Akvariet Trio – drawing jazz and free improvisation

Fig.1 Akvariet Trio playing live at Theatre Unterm Dach.

Jazz is not my bag, usually I find it too conflicting and it becomes just noise to me rather than identifiable music. The Akvariet Trio though, are different, they work under the ‘jazz’ label but they are not jazz as I define it. The music is hypnotic and intense and there is a definite musicality which feels like its surrounding you as the set becomes more fervent.

Akvariet Trio present themselves as “deeply rooted in jazz and free improvisation”, making “music full of melodic beauty, rhythmic intensity and exuberant joy of playing” and you feel it. The potency of their music flows up and swirls enveloping the room and everyone present seems under the spell. Including the three musicians, who huddle over their instruments to a point where it’s difficult to know where one begins and the other ends.

So this is where my final piece was conceived, my end goal for my first project was to report on a live event and include some of my explorations of sound into my image. The venue is small and intimate and also quite dark. I found the best position for me in the room so that I would be out of the eye line of the audience and settled in. The music and performance were intoxicating. A fog machine belched out white breath which seemed to gather in the crouched form of Rieko Okuda, the piano player, who rocked back and forth on her stool, each time releasing a plume of fog which looked like it carried the notes she was playing with it toward the lights above.

The bass player, Antti Virtaranta  hypnotized me. His hands moved up and down the strings so deftly as he held the instrument like a lover, he plucked the strings and bowed them, rubbed the belly of the instrument and tapped and created sounds from a double base I never new it could emit. It felt at times we as an audience were watching a private intense moment, and then, suddenly it becomes light and we can look away.

Wieland Moeller on the drums played the rhythm like he was dancing, it is no surprise to discover he is also a contemporary dancer. Such a gentle sound came from these kettles and cymbals and once in a while a slow build gong flowed over the audience.

This was the perfect performance for my piece with repetitive rhythm allowing me time to build the image in ink and capture movements and more importantly to visualise the sound. Researching reportage and sound regularly brought me back to the work of Jenny Soep (who I have mentioned in a previous post) who ‘Draws the Experience’. She began drawing live gigs around Dundee Jazz festival in Scotland back in 2000 while studying, and has developed into a respected reporter and finder of new musicians and bands. She uses anything to make a mark even human hair and the results are energetic and lively compositions caught in the moment. Making notes in the drawing of important lyrics or comments she hears.

For my piece I wanted to not include side notes as she does but to just mark the sound and using my inks to create a fluidity that reflected the music. My process involves painting sections – for this image the first stage was making the black backdrop –  using water and dropping the ink in which causes a very fluid looking effect as the ink finds its way to the edges. I set this aside to dry and begin some pencil sketching to get a feeling for the music and movement of the musicians. I also began making experimental marks for how the sound looks to me. This process is repeated, inking, allowing to dry, sketching and repeat until I have the full stage set-up as I want it. The hardest part for me was putting the marks of sound over an image I was quite happy with, but this was the goal. So I bit my lip and closed my eyes and followed the sound with my pencil.



Akvariet trio website biography  http://akvariettrio.tumblr.com/biography

Sketching the Scene – Jenny Soep – The Scotsman, Lifestyle (August 2008) https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/sketching-the-scene-jenny-soep-1-1086917

Jenny Soep: Drawing the Experience   http://www.jennysoep.com/





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