Marius Neset: when you’re a sax idol, it’s good to have a bit of ego

The Norwegian saxophonist, not yet 30, is up there with the best of them for sheer inventiveness. Ahead of his trip to Bray, to talks about living the dream and the expectations that come with success

Thu, May 1, 2014, 01:00

“I like being a soloist, or whatever it’s called. So yes, I probably do have an ego. I think it’s good to have a little ego, but too much is not good. I also love the contrast, to give the others space. It’s a band, and you give and take. There’s a lot of freedom in my music as well. It’s becoming more and more like a good conversation. I think the best is if the band can be one big ego.”

Choice of projects
His choice of projects suggest a musician following his own muse. His latest release, Lion, is a collaboration with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. “This was an album where I had composed the music specifically for the ensemble, so it’s not so much about me as a player. Of course I’m playing as well, but my aim was to compose for the [orchestra]. They’re all very different musicians, and it’s very interesting when people from different backgrounds can get together and sound like a band.

“The difference from now and three years ago is now there is a lot of different opinions about what I should do next. But I can only listen to where the music takes me. It’s not exactly pressure, but I can feel that when I’m making a record now, there are some expectations around it. But I’m not thinking about it when I’m writing. And I’m definitely not thinking about it when I’m playing.”

Marius Neset plays Bray Jazz Festival on Saturday


Bray is the little jazz festival that could. Running a festival of contemporary improvised music is a quixotic affair at the best of times, but to keep an artistically credible boutique festival going for 15 years is an impressive feat.

This year’s line-up features a small but stellar list of international improvisers, and the festival also creditably finds room for some up-and-coming local acts. Down the bill, there is a strong world music flavour, and there’s a jazz trail bringing the festival out into the streets of Bray.

Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Vinicius Cantuaria, who played drums with Tropicália maestro Caetano Velosa in the 1970s but now fronts his own deliciously grooving quartet on guitar, opens the festival at the Mermaid Arts Centre on Friday night.

Supergroup This Is How We Fly make an appearance on Saturday evening in Bray Town Hall, before Marius Neset takes the stage at the Mermaid for his Irish debut with a finely honed quartet featuring pianist Ivo Neame and drummer Anton Eger.

Trumpeter Dave Douglas and pianist Uri Caine, both giants of the fertile New York downtown scene, bring their collaboration to the Mermaid on Sunday night. The last time Douglas played Bray, he left with a live recording under his arm, which he subsequently released as Moonshine (2007).

He will also deliver a free workshop on Saturday afternoon. This clashes with the festival’s Contemporary Jazz Showcase matinee, featuring guitarist Hugh Buckley’s hard-swinging band; Dublin-based multinational group Kavorka, hot on the heels of their debut album release; and singer Edel Meade’s Joni Project with guitarist Dick Farrelly.

Bray Jazz Festival is on from tomorrow until Monday, May 5.

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