‘Upper Styrian Big Band Folk’ focuses on the interrelation of the music of a contemporary jazz big band and the traditional Folk songs of a distinct alpine area by the name of ‘High Styria’, located in the heart of Austria. This area with its beautiful landscape is certainly a mystical one, being the birthplace for a bunch of ski world champions and Nobel-Price winner Elfriede Jelinek, as well as home for several innovative techniques during the 19th century heyday of the European steel industry.
The unique characteristic of ‘Upper Styrian Big Band Folk’ refers to the confluence and juxtaposition of two diverse ensembles based within the alpine area of High Styria: The vocal group ‘The Pfeilstoeckers’ has become a trademark for interpreting traditional Folk songs and their intimate way of ‘Jodeling’ for some 50 years now, and the ‘High Styria Big Band’ comprises a younger generation of internationally trained musicians with a contemporary, energetic musical approach.
The ‘High Styria Big Band’ comprises over 20 musicians, most of them with university degrees in jazz and classical music. All of them care about their alpine roots and are eager to express their socio-cultural background within the sophisticated sounds of a large jazz orchestra. ‘The Pfeilstoeckers’ represent Austria’s musical roots – traditional melodies, which have influenced even our well-known classical composers such as Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.
The project ‘Upper Styrian Big Band Folk’ involves a series of new compositions by the pianist, composer and music scholar Dr. Michael Kahr and a combination of the talents of both groups in a single show. The lyrical melodies by ‘The Pfeilsteockers’ will be elevated by the driving energy of the rhythm section and the vocal calls of characteristic ‘Jodler’ will be developed by expressive solo improvisations and the powerful work of the brass and woodwind sections, just to provide a glimpse of the whole musical picture.
The confluence of jazz and Folk is not new; one might think of saxophonist Jan Garbarek’s Scandinavian aesthetics, Luis Sclavis’s ‘Folclore Imaginaire’, or various successful attempts to combine the odd meter rhythms of the Balkan with jazzy improvisations.
Now, ‘Upper Styrian Big Band Folk’ creates a new, original contribution to the use of the globalized language of jazz for the expression of locally shaped musical and extra-musical contents by considering alpine aspects.
Hear where Mozart would be going if he was still alive… Be surprised…