Jacob Gurevitsch interview on Ban Ban Ton Ton

The sound of the Spanish guitar. Fingers creating intricate counterpoint. Rhythms rapped out with palms on the instrument`s wooden body. I think my interest in its music started with a teenage fascination for Spaghetti Westerns. The tales of revenge and honour spun by Sergio Leone. The films` borrowing of samurai code (it`s right somehow that I`ve ended up in Japan). This interest reinforced in the 80s by Stephen Frears` The Hit, and Paco De Lucia`s score. Hearing the Gipsy Kings` Bamboleo on a London night club dance floor, had me imagining memories of the best holiday I`d never had. Transported to a landscape of white adobe walls, framing azure and cobalt seas. There were Balearic Beats. Paco`s Entre Dos Aguas. Mina`s El Porompompero. Flamenco emotions borrowed by The Cures The Blood. The Woodentops` Why Why Why. Hijacked by Raul Orellana`s Guitarra. Integrated and transformed by The Durutti Column. The Pogues hipped me to the poetry of Federico García Lorca

En la mitad del barranco 

las navajas de Albacete, 

bellas de sangre contraria, 

relucen como los peces

Jah Wobble turned me on to the Roma Blues of El Chocolate. Songs like El Gitano Portugues` Fui A Bahia, and Peret`s Voy Voy, caused a life to flash before my eyes. One less ordinary. One full of passion. Scenes of Bennie-chewing bands in crumpled black suits. Entertaining bordellos into the dawn. Soundtracking bad deals, trysts, beatings and back-stabbings. Set to the fire of Cuban Rumba, and the clink of one more round. Skirt waving dancers, striking proud defiant poses. Arms raised high, as if dagger poised. Courtship rituals staged like a fight. Partners like toreador and bull. Switching roles between victim and prey. Heels stomping to warn of attack. Spinning closer and closer. Urged on by a clapping crowd.

One current exponent of the Spanish guitar is Jacob Gurevitsch. The Danish guitarist`s recent vinyl retrospective, An Introduction, on Music For Dreams, is a collection of cinematic love songs, sung by the instrument`s six strings. Sometimes solo. Sometimes accompanied by mariachi horns, or the jazzy arrangements of a full acoustic band. Harmonica that lends the music a Parisian air. Titles that equate beauty with genius. 

Where are you from?

A small town in Denmark called Havnbjerg.

Where are you based?

Copenhagen.

Where are your favorite places to hang out? To catch a coffee, listen to music, buy records, grab a beer, go dancing?

There’s a nice place close to my apartment called Gaarden & Gaden.

jacob gurevitsch Gaarden & Gaden

Is the local music scene lively? Are there any local bands or artists we should keep an eye / ear out for? 

Yes, I think the Copenhagen live scene is happening! Many amazing musicians. Keep a close eye on Mathias Heise, a fantastic young harmonica player. 

How long have you been making music?

I have been making music for many years. My own – with Spanish guitar – for around fifteen years.

What made you pick up the guitar? Was it a particular artist, performance, or piece of music?  

It was when I was twelve, and because my sister new more chords than I did. I had to study guitar (laughs).

Were you in any bands before releasing your solo work?

Yes, I’ve worked as a “side-man” for many years. Worked with many Danish artists and bands.

Who are your favorite guitarists? 

The french player Antoine Boyer is amazing! I also love Vicente Amigo and Pat Metheny.

What got you interested in playing Spanish guitar?

I got interested in playing the Spanish guitar through working with a legendary Danish band called Savage Rose. They`d been living in South America, and got me hooked on the instrument.

How about Flamenco?

I don`t play Flamenco myself, but I can tell you that Paco de Lucia`s Reflejo De Luna is one of my favourite Flamenco pieces. It shows Paco`s amazing skills as a solo player. Very impressive tremolo, and very emotional playing.

I love Flamenco, but know very little about it. Could you name a few artists who you think are keeping the Flamenco tradition alive in 2019? 

I`m no Flamenco professor (laughs), but I think that Vicente Amigo is fantastic, and I just got to learn of two players, called Fernando Munoz and Javier Conde, who are both really great! Also the young player Samuelito is a fantastic guitarist.

There seems to be a strong Jazz element in some of the recordings collected on An Introduction. Is Jazz an influence on what you do? 

Yes, I started of playing jazz, for many years. I absolute love Jazz, so I guess I can’t run from that, even my style today is not Jazz.

How did you hook up with Kenneth Bager and Music For Dreams?

I know Kenneth from old days in Copenhagen. When an early version of Lovers In Paris was released six or seven years ago, Kenneth contacted me and asked if I wanted to sign to Music For Dreams. I really love working with Kenneth. It was Kenneth who set up the collaboration with Phil Mison, on the Ambala project. 

What are you working on right now, and what do you have planned for 2019?

I just finished my next album In Search of Lost Time, which will be released in June 2019. These days I am working on getting ready to play some live concerts, here in Copenhagen, and practicing. Always, always trying to practice more. 

You can order Jacob Gurevitsch`s An Introduction directly from  Music For Dreams.