Ljubljana's 56th Jazz Festival is fast approaching (starting on 1st of July), so it's only right to give it a bit of attention. Amongst all of those who will make an appearance at this celebration of jazz music, I'm especially looking forward to see Mette Rasmussen and Chris Corsano. Never heard of this duo? You're missing out. Mette Rasmussen is a pretty tiny lady, but when she starts playing the sax, her energy explodes to a powerful aura around her. She is full of unconventional musical ideas with which she expands the potential of the saxophone. The American jazz magazine Down Beat even called her "a young Scandinavian saxophone sensation". She's been playing all around Europe, US and Russia, collaborating with names like Tobias Delius, Rudi Mahall, Wilbert de Jode, Alan Silva, Alex Dörner … Mette and Chris met each other in 2011 in Norway, but the trailblazing duo was born a few years later in the US. Chris, to many known as former Björk's drummer, is a veteran on the field of free improvisation and avant-rock. He was collaborating with Joe McPhee, Akira Sakata, Evan Parker, Jim O'Rourke, Sir Richard Bishop and many others. Many critics state that of Mr. Corsano live shows guarantee a real delicacy of highly accomplished improvisation and soaring energy levels. I had a little chat with Mette and Chris about their music background, perspectives and their current work. Enjoy!

Hi guys! How are you doing today, what's been on your schedule lately?

Chris: Right now, we're touring in Canada. Last month we did 19 shows in 18 days around Europe. Then we've got some more gigs coming up around the Ljubljana, so it's been a busy time!

Mette: We had the new release "All The Ghosts at Once" out in may, which was released on Relative Pitch Records. Good to have it out and great having it with us on tour.

How did you two get into jazz music? Were there any specific influences leading to that decision?

Chris: My brother made me a tape of Ornette Coleman's "Live at the Golden Circle." Then I went out and bought a copy of "Free Jazz." Like so many other people, I owe a great debt to Ornette's music.

Mette: After picking up the saxophone, I think a natural curiosity for jazz started. I went to the local library and looked under jazz and picked stuff randomly, first jazz record I ever took home was Expectations by Keith Jarrett with Dewey Redman on saxophone. I still like that album. It took a while before I discovered Ornette Coleman. Almost by chance I started in a trio where we would practised a lot, trying out different approaches to free improvised music and writing tunes around it as well, this made a huge impact on me and on my playing. Earlier on I played a lot of Big Band music like Basie and Ellington.

When and why did you pick up your instruments (saxophone, drums)?

Chris: My older brother was (and still is) a drummer and I always looked up to him. So when I was 14, I got a set of my own.

Mette: I was early on heavily drawn to the saxophone, so I enlisted at the nearest music school which then allowed me to rent a saxophone fairly cheap. I think I must have been around 13. Before this I played piano.

You two are just the best: Mette amazes us with powerful outbursts and unstoppable energy, and Chris, you excel in extremely playful and superior drumming. What's your story, where did you two meet?

Chris: Thanks for the kind words! We played in different bands on a double bill in Norway at the end of 2011. A couple of years later, Mette got in touch when she was coming to the U.S. and set up a recording.

Mette: Thanks! Yes, we played as a duo first time in NY in 2013 at a place called JACK and did a recording the same day.

I've heard some musicians talk about approaching their instruments as a tool, like an external object, yet others say that they think of their instruments as an actual part of their body. What are your thoughts on that, how do you perceive your "tools"?

Chris: I'd say that with drums maybe the tool-analogy works a little better. Maybe it's different with saxophone, I can't say. At times the drums feel like tools. Other times they feel like something to fight against. Actually, for me it really works in reverse - you spend so much of your life playing and thinking about drums and sound in general, that now you can't help but see things in the "outside" world (like tools, or pot lids, or scrap wood) for their potential to be used with the drums.

Mette: I spend an enormous lot of time with my instrument, practicing and playing, and I end up carrying my horn around a lot, it's strange to take a bus or fly without it, feels like I forgot something life essential. I would say that when I work on exploring new approaches for sound I may look at the saxophone from a more technical point of view, but when I play I experience everything as a whole.

I'm always fascinated about how a particular environment can influence one's work. Does living in a certain environment or the overall atmosphere of a certain place have any particular effect on your playing or thinking?

Chris: Well, you're always responding to the acoustics of the place you're playing and, if it's a live show, the energy and atmosphere of the crowd really affects me. But that changes from venue to venue, night to night, of course. Right now, I live pretty far away from any big city and I don't live near many people to play music with. So that means that when I'm at home, I concentrate more on solo playing, which then influences what I do when I get to play with other people.

Mette: I think while touring I am influenced by what goes on around me, and things happen on stage that would never happen while practicing at home. New ideas and approaches evolve while on tour which then inspires me when I'm back home in my daily practice. On stage, like Chris says, the atmosphere of the crowd inspires you and likewise you hope to be able to inspire the audience.

You'll be performing at the Jazz Festival in Ljubljana really soon. What can we expect to hear from you?

Chris: It will be totally improvised from start to finish, so it's a little hard to predict, but I think at all the shows we've done so far, we've always tried to bring a lot of energy while still paying attention to details and spontaneously-created structure.

The duo's debut album All The Ghosts At Once was released earlier in May 2015 by Relative Pitch. You can hear them live on the 4th of July at Ljubljana's Jazz Festival @Cankarjev dom. Don't miss out!



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