In 1996, Norwegian jazz pianist and composer Bugge Wesseltoft formed New Conception of Jazz, a project which endeavoured to integrate improvisation on acoustic instruments with dancefloor beats and electronics. Because no other music labels were showing any interest in his own music, the musician set up his own imprint that year – Jazzland – in an effort to introduce a new and distinct sound which was both different from traditional “straight” American jazz and from a European jazz characterised to date by the contemplative aesthetics of the German-based ECM record label.
Since 1996, Jazzland has been promoting artists as diverse as Mari Boine, Beady Belle or Eivind Aarset and between 1996 and 2008, New Conception of Jazz has released four studio albums, one live album and a box set compilation with additional material, alternate versions and remixes. During those years, the project has also spawned several eclectic live collaborations with French electronica artist Laurent Garnier, Tunisian oud player Dhafer Youssef or American guitar player John Scofield among others.
Almost 15 years after its release, Moving (2001) still strikes a perfect balance between the acoustic and the electronic and stands out as a classic electro-jazz record. Adopting an ambient/dance/techno approach, long and expanded songs (five of the six tracks on the album are over 10mn long) slowly build up from a simple piano or Fender Rhodes introduction into a hypnotic groove and short subtle improvised keyboard phrases over an electronic, sampled or live beat.
Bugge Wesseltoft samples and loops his own voice on the blissful Nu jazz anthem “Change” and apart from Håkon Kornstad’s plaintive saxophone on the superb “Yellow is the Colour”, he remains the main soloist throughout on grand piano, Fender Rhodes or synthesiser. “Gare du Nord” displays a great interplay between beats, live drums and percussions while the association of electronic beats with the live double bass of Ingebrigt Håker Flaten works wonders on “Lone”.
All the music is of the moment, maybe that’s why it has that edge, music that is developed on the spot. “Change” and “Yellow is the Colour” have simple melodic forms, while “Gare du Nord,” “Lone,” “Moving” and “Heim” are just moods we created on the spot. All of us together in the same room, playing live, gave us that communication we have on stage and so we could develop and improvise forms on the spot. Jazz music, if you ask me! Bugge Wesseltoft