Borderlands Trio // Ben LaMar Gay // Supersonic Orchestra

The fully improvised excursions of New York’s Borderlands Trio lead into polyglot songs of Chicago cornetist Ben LaMar Gay. Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen closes the night with his high-octane big band, a raucous ensemble that doubles as the who is who of cutting-edge Scandinavian jazz.

Collage with the Borderlands Trio, Ben LaMar Gay, and the Supersonic Orchestra

Borderlands Trio // Ben LaMar Gay Ensemble // Supersonic Orchestra

© Jimmy Katz, Alejandro Ayala, Harald Opheim

Past Dates


Borderlands Trio: “Wandersphere”

(US, CA)

Pianist Kris Davis, bassist Stephan Crump, and drummer Eric McPherson are three of post-bop’s most exalted musicians. Within elastic compositional frameworks, they all create cogent solos that grab a listener’s focus while simultaneously strengthening the ensemble’s narrative thrust. But when they gather as Borderlands Trio they improvise from scratch and while countless musicians have embraced that practice, few improvised working groups have developed a personality and vision as singular and powerful. The four pieces on their sublime 2021 double CD “Wandersphere” range between 20 and 41 minutes, but each moment feels exquisite, blending a striking sculptural approach to sound and an abstract narrative quality that feels genuinely cinematic. Crump—perhaps known best for his work with pianist Vijay Iyer—sees the symbiotic relationship of wild fungi and forest life as an apt metaphor for the multi-pronged sound worlds he conjures with Davis and McPherson, the latter of whom reveals a masterful side as colourist and pure sound wielder. The music they make together is connected by their shared investment in jazz tradition, but they leave any idiomatic notions behind as they paint finely etched landscapes, both wild and serene, in sound.


Stephan Crump contra bass
Kris Davis piano
Eric McPherson drums



Ben LaMar Gay Ensemble: “Open Arms to Open Us”

(US, IT)

Regardless of what instrument he’s playing, what style he’s deploying, or even if he’s using his voice or not, Ben LaMar Gay is a storyteller. Although he’s well known for his forceful, lyric cornet playing, almost anything can be a music-making tool for him. He’s a member of Chicago’s AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) and he spent several years drinking up the sounds and culture of Brazil, but it seems like whatever place he goes to he absorbs its sonic essence, enfolding within an ever-widening aesthetic. He delivered a stunning survey of his work on last year’s “Open Arms to Open Us”, forging an alchemic blend of post-bop, soul, gospel, Carnival music, blues and more that can’t be meaningfully parsed. There’s something unique about his deceptively conversational admixtures. Nearly every track on the album features different groups of musicians, built around the needs of each tune, yet those 16 disparate excursions feel of a piece. For his Berlin debut LaMar Gay has assembled a quartet of close co-conspirators that promises to distill his vision even further.


Ben LaMar Gay cornet, synth, vocals
Edinho Gerber guitar
Matt Davis tuba, vocals
Tommaso Moretti drums

See the Video interview with Ben LaMar Gay in the Digital Guide “Outside Traditions”



Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra: “If You Listen Carefully the Music is Yours”

(DK, NO, PL, SE)

Drummer Gard Nilssen cemented his standing as one of jazz’s great contemporary bandleaders—after already serving extended stints in Puma, Cortex, his still active trios Bushman’s Revenge and Acoustic Unity—with this ebullient big band. The group’s 2020 album “If You Listen Carefully the Music is Yours” builds on a brawny yet soulful aesthetic he’s honed for more than two decades, transporting the fire and rhythmic velocity of early free jazz into the present. The album title says plenty about Nilssen’s investment in music as a lifeforce and that energy and celebratory vibe shines through the brash arrangements, even at their most charged. It’s hard to resist a medley like “Bøtteknott /Elastic Circle”, which somehow pays joyful homage to Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath and early Jan Garbarek in one swoop. Nilssen was aided in the writing and arranging by Acoustic Unity saxophonist André Roligheten and they have doubled or tripled up many of the band’s instruments, with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Ole Morten Vågan and Petter Eldh all playing bass, and the leader complemented by Hans Hulkbækmo and Håkon Mjåset Johansen on drums. But with the fire power of this horn section and the space carved out in the arrangements, the decision makes plenty of musical sense. Nilssen’s themes tend toward the anthemic in this project, providing additional lift. At this year’s Jazzfest Berlin, the group will give its Berlin debut.


André Roligheten saxophones, bass clarinet, percussion
Otis Sandsjö saxophones, percussion
Kjetil Møster saxophones, percussion
Maciej Obara alto saxophone, percussion
Mette Rasmussen alto saxophone, percussion
Per “Texas” Johansson tenor saxophone, contrabass clarinet, clarinet, percussion
Signe Emmeluth saxophone, percussion
Thomas Johansson trumpet, percussion
Goran Kajfeš trumpet, percussion
Guro Kvåle trombone, percussion
Erik Johannessen trombone, percussion
Petter Eldh double bass, percussion
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten double bass, percussion
Ole Morten Vågan double bass, percussion
Hans Hulbækmo drums, percussion
Håkon Mjåset Johansen drums, percussion
Gard Nilssen drums, percussion
Jørgen Brennhovd sound design