Iversen: Danish Female Jazz Bassist

The Danish Jazz Scene:


by Eric K. Williams

(New York) — Women who play the Bass, Saxophone, or Drums in popular music are a rare breed, indeed. New artists on the scene, like the noted Jazz and pop drummer, Kim Thompson, are in high demand. Then there are bolder female musicians, who like many musicians in general, struggle for recognition. The Swedish Jazz Trombonist, Gunhild Carling, and the American Saxophonist, Virginia Mayhew, are two examples who come to mind. They are terrifc at their craft but, remain largely unknown outside of Jazz circles. One bold and rising star on the Jazz scene in New York is Bassist, Anne Mette Iversen, whose new CD may help to jump-start wider notice.

Iversen, who hails from Aarhus, Denmark, spent a short time in the Copenhagen Jazz scene more than ten years ago. She is trained as a classical music pianist and says, she was influenced by the music of Brahms and Beethoven.

Citing numerous influences among Jazz artists, she lists noted Bass players such as Ron Carter and Charlie Haden among her favorites. One can hear those influences in her current CD titled, THIS IS MY HOUSE. It features eight separate tracks and represents a compilation of her latest works. In the nine years she has called the U.S.A. home, Iversen has been a featured player on several recordings among New York’s vast community of Jazz musicians. She has recorded a total of three CDs in recent years but, THIS IS MY HOUSE, is her second release as a band leader.

Iversen has called Brooklyn her home over the last four years and, she is among several prominent figures in the Brooklyn Jazz scene. Part of that scene is a newly created loose group of music makers known as, the Brooklyn Jazz Underground. Formed in late 2005, the Jazz Underground is a grouping of primarily ten Brooklyn-based band leaders who, in Iversen’s own words, “help to create recording and performance opportunities” for the burgeoning music scene there.

The formation of the Jazz Underground and, Iversen’s creation of this new work took place in and around the same time. Although, she said, one was not because of the other.

Leading the way on Bass, Anne Mette Iversen’s current CD features John Ellis on Tenor Saxophone; Danny Grissett on Piano and, Otis Brown III, on Drums.  They have performed together as a group for over 3 years. A recent performance at Brooklyn’s TEA GARDEN café, Iversen used Guitarist, Mike Moreno in large part because, the venue does not have a large enough space to accommodate a piano. Such are the challenges for musicians on the Brooklyn scene.

All eight of the compositions on the new CD, Anne Mette Iversen penned herself. They are a soft and mellow grouping for relaxing or, just plain chilling out. Yet, it would be a mistake to categorize her works as mere ‘background music.’

The CD’s first track, WHERE TO PLACE THE HOUSE, opens with a short drum solo that immediately grabs your attention. Far from jolting, Otis Brown’s licks suggest right away that you’re about to take on a different kind of Jazz journey. Grissett’s piano on this, and the rest of the tracks, vary with the color, phrasing and texture. It is a strong but, soothing sound. While the sound of John Ellis’ Saxophone suggests a strong influence of the pre-avant garde John Coltrane, with the lower ranges he hits, forms a counter point to Iversen’s Bass. The music never clashes on this first track and, the same is true on the rest. In short, track one here forms a theme of what one can expect to hear the rest of the way.

LOISAIDA, the CD’s fifth track, is a play on the name of New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood. The track opens with Ellis’ bluesy saxophone riff where Iverson gives him room to stretch his sound. And that is what the listener will find refreshing with this recording, a band leader who allows her band members to stretch.

Iversen’s LIVE concert appearances and, session work have slowed down in recent months. She is a new mother of a six month old boy. Nilo Iverson-Ginsburg has kept his mother busy since the release of this CD. It is her first since ON THE OTHER SIDE, which was released in 2004.

While 2007 has been an adjustment to new role as mother, the second half of the year she said, will be busy in other ways. It began with work in the Summer of 2006, where she recorded with her band and, a string quartet, a suite in 4 movements. The works she composed were for a jazz and string quartet, with members of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra pitching in. That album/CD will be titled “Best of the West“. The plan is to release that album in the fall of ’07. Iversen said in addition, she is composing a new set of work for a second CD project featuring her quartet in the Fall. That effort will follow a short European tour at the end of September.

( Snippets and other information of Iverson’s work can be seen, read and heard on the following web site:  www.annemetteiversen.com )

Eric Williams is a staff reporter for Den Danske Pioneer and, is also heard on Pacifica Radio’s WBAI-FM in New York City