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Guitarist Jakob Bro Reveals His Route Through a New Trio Soundscape on 'Uma Elmo'

Jakob Bro
Astrid Dalum
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Musician Jakob Bro

The Danish-born guitarist Jakob Bro first caught the ear of the global jazz community 15 years ago, on an ECM release by the Paul Motion Band. He's now a highly regarded ECM artist himself: his new album, Uma Elmo, documents a unique and shifting interplay from a new trio, with trumpeter Arve Henricksen and drummer Jorge Rossy.

Recorded last August and September in Lugano, Switzerland, Uma Elmo finds these captivating improvisers at their lyrical best. Though they had conversations before the session, the musicians did not rehearse or perform together before entering the studio. And in a further effort to capture a spark of discovery, Bro composed the tunes only days before the session, sharing them with his trio mates only minutes before the engineer was ready to hit record.

WBGO's "Let Me Tell You 'Bout It" w/ Greg Bryant & Guitarist Jakob Bro

The resulting soundscapes will feel familiar to fans of Bro's earlier recordings, like Balladeering — while also allowing for moments of individual brilliance, in the tradition of Bro's recent string of stellar ECM trio albums. Throughout Uma Elmo, titled after the middle names of his two young children, Bro and his group offer empathetic support for each other's musical statements, always upholding the sound and mood of the whole.

In our conversation on Let Me Tell You 'Bout It, Bro talks about his new trio and the circumstances around its creation; the influence of guitar idols Jimi Hendrix and mentor John Abercrombie; and his key experience with Paul Motion’s Electric Bebop Band.

Greg Bryant has been a longtime curator of improvisational music. At the age of 3 in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, he was borrowing his father’s records and spinning them on his Fisher Price turntable. Taking in diverse sounds of artistry from Miles Davis, Les McCann, James Brown, Weather Report and Jimi Hendrix gave shape to Greg's musical foundation and started him on a path of nonstop exploration.