Ferenc Snétberger - Anders Jormin

Anders Jormin, Ferenc Snétberger © Gábor Valuska
Anders Jormin, Ferenc Snétberger © Gábor Valuska

Hungarian guitarist Ferenc Snétberger and Swedish double bass player Anders Jormin are now a duo and, without doubt, represent one of the most fortunate, musically original and energizing encounters between two outstanding musicians and personalities of contemporary music making.

They first met on a small concert tour before going to Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in 2015 to record the successful ECM trio album Titok with drummer Joey Baron: a warm and involving album, with an emphasis on intensely melodic improvisation and interaction which gently draws the listener into its sound world. Here the rapport between Snétberger and Jormin is evident from the outset, as both guitar and bass explore the contours of Snétberger’s compositions.

In 2019, Snétberger and Jormin gave their first duo concert in Biasca, Switzerland, and it was literally a musical “coup de foudre” for both (and for the audience, too), for it was a performance of at once poetic and dynamic magic. And now they are embarking on a new journey in duo - for good. Actually no wonder, for the two ECM recording artists have a lot in common:

Besides being internationally acclaimed masters on their respective instruments, they have both distinguished themselves for their very individual playing technique and absolutely unique and immediately recognizable sound; they are both much dedicated to composing in multiple genres informed by various music cultures, which they have naturally made their own in their very own distinct idiom, and at the same time they are masters of impromptu improvisation and osmose-like interplay; and besides their busy concert activities both have been generous music pedagogues to many young generations.

The concert repertoire, initially mainly consisting of Ferenc Snétberger’s tunes composed for the trio album Titok, is to grow and widen and will very soon also include more compositions by Anders Jormin, but, in any case, moments of wondrous improvisation will always be a guide.

When performing their repertoire, attentively listening to each other, Ferenc Snétberger and Anders Jormin continuously enrich and surprise each other (and themselves and the audience), and conjure up a cornucopia of extemporaneous ideas and directions. Offering their rich, manifold and yet distinct experience as musicians, together they have created a new poetic musical world made up of warm (and yet crystalline) chords and melodies informed by many of the genres, styles and encounters that have shaped their respective very own musical language.

 

Ferenc Snétberger was born into a family of musicians in Northern Hungary. After learning the guitar from his father and initially influenced by jazz and Brazilian music, by Django Reinhardt and later by Egberto Gismonti in particular, he continued to study classical guitar, later jazz guitar at the Béla Bartók conservatory, Budapest, to discover his unbounded ever-lasting love for Johann Sebastian Bach.
 
Ever since, Ferenc Snétberger has been internationally hailed by critics and audiences as one of the few genuinely distinctive voices on contemporary guitar, a border-crossing virtuoso of a rare kind, “a musical cosmopolitan” (Die Welt), who has developed an individual personal style between classical and jazz music, influenced and informed by native gypsy tunes, flamenco guitar techniques, samba rhythms and, of course, by Bach.
 
Besides writing music for film and theatre productions, Ferenc Snétberger has been leader, co-leader or sideman on numerous albums and tours all over Europe, Asia and the United States, along with many outstanding musicians of international fame. He has also recorded and performed with trumpet player Markus Stockhausen, and in trio with Arild Andersen & Paolo Vinaccia (Nomad).

His ECM debut solo live album In Concert (2016) was followed by the successful trio recording Titok (2017) with Anders Jormin and Joey Baron. His latest album Hallgató, wonderfully recorded with the illustrious Keller Quartet, was released on ECM New Series in 2021.
 
He has performed solo-works such as Luciano Berio's Sequenza XI, and concertos with orchestra by Vivaldi, Rodrigo and John McLaughlin. In 1995, on occasion of the 50th year from the end of the holocaust, he composed his own Concerto "In Memory of My People", informed by his gipsy roots. He has performed it with chamber orchestras in Hungary, Italy and Germany and also at the New York UN headquarters (2007) and (a solo version of the 1st movement) at the European Parliament in Brussels (2022).

Snétberger is also the initiator and artistic director of the Snétberger Music Talent Center. Founded in 2011, it is an international music school in Hungary for socially disadvantaged but musically highly gifted children and teenagers; most students are of Sinti and Roma origin.
 
Ferenc Snétberger received the Hungarian Order of Merit in 2004. In 2005, he was awarded the Liszt Ferenc Prize in Budapest; in 2010, the honorary citizenship of Budapest; and in 2014, the Kossuth Prize, the most prominent cultural award in Hungary. In November 2020 he received the German "Bundesverdienstkreuz" (Federal Cross of Merit), and in April 2022 the German Jazz Prize in the category ‘Guitar’.

 

Anders Jormin was born in Jönköping, Sweden, in 1957. After intense musical studies, he left Göteborg Musikhögskolan with diplomas in Double Bass and Improvisation as well as in Pedagogy in 1979.

Considered one of the most influential and original bassists in improvised music,
hailed by Down Beat as “a treasure - everything a bassist should be”, AJ has been given several prestigious prizes such as the Jan Johanson Award, the Swedish Radio Prize Guldkatten and the Swedish Royal Academy of Music Big Prize. He is also five times winner of the Swedish "Grammy” for best jazz recording.

For almost 40 years, AJ has been teaching Double Bass and Improvisation at Academy of Music and Drama (Gothenburg University), where he had a leading role in building up a strong Improvised Music Department, which he is still the artistic leader of today. AJ is also a most requested lecturer at master-classes and workshops all over Europe.

In 1995, AJ was given a professorship at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki; in 2001 also at Academy of Music and Drama of Sweden. In 2004, AJ was given the title of "doctor honoris causa" together with maestro Esa-Pekka Salonen and Grigory Sokolov by the Sibelius Academy, Finland. In 2014 also by Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn. He presently holds a guest supervising professorship at LMTA in Vilnius, too.

Bassist-composer AJ has recorded and internationally toured with many jazz legends such as Gilberto Gil, Lee Konitz, Don Cherry, Charles Lloyd, Mike Manieri, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, Albert Mangelsdorff, Tomasz Stanko, Dino Saluzzi, John Surman, John Taylor, Marilyn Mazur, Arve Henriksen, Mark Feldman, Paul Motian, Joey Baron, Jon Balke, Vertavo String Quartet, Norma Winstone, Lena Willemark, Trio Mediaeval, Craig Taborn, Marilyn Crispell, and Ferenc Snétberger. For many years, AJ was also a front figure of Entra, one of Scandinavia’s foremost ensembles. AJ leads his own trio/quartet Trees of Light/Pasado en claro and he has been a longtime member of Bobo Stenson Trio.

Besides touring all over Europe, USA/Canada and Japan, he has also performed and studied ethnic music in Cuba and Mozambique and done pioneer teaching of improvisation at DPRK in North Korea.

AJ is an ECM recording artist and an established composer in frequent demand for commissioned works in the fields of symphonic works (e.g. the album Symphony of Birds) as well as choir music (e.g. Ama) and contemporary jazz. His two solo albums Alone and Xieyi have been praised worldwide. AJ's music for modern big band featuring the Japanese koto, Poems for orchestra (2020), won the critics poll in Sweden. His new album for ECM, Pasado en claro, will be released in early 2023.