Are you ready for a jazz explosion? I'm talking about the explosive mix that includes the Budapest power trio Jü and the extraordinary Norwegian Kjetil Møster. When they join forces in the ecstatic jam only they can deliver, your brain will definitely be blown! The rough and ferocious Jü consists of Adam Meszaros on guitar, Ernö Hock on bass and Andras Halmos on drums.They say that when they first heard Kjetil playing it quickly became obvious to them that their collaboration is only a matter of time. Mr. Møster contributes to their free jazz and guitar-driven hard rock with his amazing baritone sax skills, stretching the melodies freely over their moody and spacious music. These four fearless musicians will showcase their expertise through roaring sounds at Ljubljana's Jazz Festival. Enjoy the lovely chat I had with Adam from Jü!
Hi Adam, how are you? What has been on your schedule lately?
Hey, all cool! Thanks! As a trio we've been pretty far from having a busy schedule lately since Erno and I have wrapped up our former lives and left Budapest for Berlin, and Andras, while still having Budapest as his primal base, has spent much of his time in Tanzania and Iceland in the last couple of months. We are enjoying the fact that playing together is more like a special occasion these times and this situation clearly has some benefits regarding our music too.
Could you give us a little background on the group? How did you power jazz cats meet and come together?
As established musicians in the Hungarian music scene we had known each other for a while when we realized that we shared a common interest in certain aesthetics of music. We welcomed this like-mindedness since these aesthetics were not so common among many other musicians we knew in Hungary, so we started developing a musical language which was excitingly fresh for all of us. Our desire to collaborate with Kjetil became obvious when Andras showed us a recording of Kjetil's combo's highly inspirational performance that he saw in Norway a couple of years before.
How did you guys get in contact with jazz or with music in the first place?
Of course each of us has his very own story but I'll try to focus more on what is common for all of us. All of us became music enthusiasts at a young age by listening to all kinds of stuff that was around. Later this obsession got us to the point where listening could cover just a part of our desired connection to music, so it was the natural next step to redefine and deepen this connection by making music. The great thing about being involved with music at a young age is that you have time to evolve as a listener and the better listener you are the better musician you can be. First we had a background mostly in rock music and then the spectrum was broadened by jazz, folk music mainly from Africa and Asia, hip hop, electronic and classical music and so on thanks to the bottomless ocean of great music that's available.
The album that you did together last year, "JÜ Meets Møster" is amazing. The music feels like strolling through misty soundscapes and dangerous rapids of progressive melodies. How do you see the album?
Thank you! Happy to hear that! Basically the album sums up our first period as a band but Kjetil's presence fired things up and put those songs into a new context, so it was way more than putting an end to a period. Actually it was like telling the same story but in another narrative and different aspects, so it finally ends up as a different story. Let me take the opportunity to add that the guys at our label were incredibly supportive and we can't thank them enough for that.
What is your favourite track from that album and why?
Well, that's a tough one. I think we caught a good vibe with Hassassin but I also like Kjetil's bari work over the polyrhythmic of Bhajan and his soulful playing in Morze. Both took those songs to a next level.
I've read somewhere that the key to your collaboration is open-mindedness. What are your thoughts on that? Does willingness to do something different lead to adventure and success (at least in music)?
Talking about stories again I believe that a story speaks to you the best only if you haven't heard it a thousand times before. In this era of information overload and the white noise of material published every day you have to understand that the last thing that the world needs now is another record or another band. This can give hard times to musicians who are forced to make their living by music. But this is only the commercial or business side of the game. I personally try to keep a distance from this kind of business speculations. I believe that if you have your own truth to tell and you choose the right way and the right tools to communicate it then that's it. It still doesn't mean that people will pick your things up nor you will make it in the music business. I believe that people should think of their music not as a tool to make money or fame (or whatever success means to them), but more like religion, a kind of ritual and a great device of self-explanatory and a miraculous way of communicating with each other. It sounds naive, but I'm ok with that.
You represent quite an interesting musical vision that covers free jazz and guitar-driven hard core rock. How do you merge these two?
Freely improvised music is always one hell of an excitement and challenge with its in-the-moment settings and it's also a wonderful way of communication. You just never know what's happening next. It's a great exercise of living in the moment. The aesthetics of being loud, harsh and distorted comes from punk and hard core and it's more like an attitude for us. But our new material that we're working on now shows a different language which is less aggressive. We don't feel like punching everybody in the face right away any more. Or at least not nowadays.
What's currently on your playlist?
I'm really into underground hip hop and 20th century string quartets (mainly Shostakovich, Bartók and Ligeti). Erno digs Mingus, Red Norvo and I'm happily rediscovering some choir works that he used to sing in elementary school choir. Andras listens to Thelonious Monk, Soeur Marie Keyrouz and to a lot of traditional music. And all of us enjoy the Sublime Frequencies catalogue! But ask us again tomorrow and you'll get totally different answers.
If you had to pick a jazz player from any era to collaborate with, who would you pick?
For me it would be nice to at least experience the presence of Sun Ra or Miles Davis. Erno's picks are Louis Armstrong and Eric Dolphy, while Andras could imagine a nice joint with John Coltrane.
You'll be performing at Ljubljana's Jazz Festival soon. What can we expect to hear from you?
It will be so much fun playing with Kjetil again and we are really excited about being in such a great company! Our set will consist of a mixture of songs from the album and some new material as well. We are looking forward to it!
What are your plans for the future?
We'd like to make a strong trio record that we are currently writing new material for and our goal is to release it in the fall of 2016. We still have some unreleased stuff that we recorded with Kjetil which is waiting for the right time to be released. One long track with over 30 minutes of heavy conceptualised music. The slowest music we've ever played. It was recorded in a foundry museum in Budapest. The place was incredibly inspiring both sonically and spiritually. It was a great experiment and we are happy with it. It still has to find its right form to be published but hopefully that will happen soon. We are eager to present it as soon as possible.