Published Jan 01, 2006Collective organizing. We North Americans tend to shun the concept, but team spirit and individual strengths often form a killer combo. Take Jazzanova, for example. The six men of this Berlin-based production collective came together through a shared passion for older jazz, Brazilian, African, Latin, folk and hip-hop sounds. Five years, three beautiful singles, and a whole whack of remixes, Jazzanova's members have discovered that their connection has only deepened.
"It's not that there's complete understanding between us or that we're the most peaceful brothers who stick together 24 hours per day," chuckles DJ-producer Claas Brieler. "But we definitely share something in what we hear, and in the feeling that we try to put into the music. The music is a completely common thing, but we all have different main subjects, let's say. We each prefer certain sounds, colours, or parts in the whole creation. So there are two who are the beat masters, two who mainly focus on the harmonies and the song's feeling, and the others are very much with the arrangement.
"Collective also means that in addition to the music itself, everyone has other main things to do," continues Claas, citing the three who travel as the Jazzanova DJ crew, and others responsible for promo, studio gear research, radio shows and more. Wisely, Jazzanova have extended this philosophy further, investing in a studio and forming partnerships to create both Jazzanova-Compost Records and Sonar Kollektiv, a separate label that functions as an alliance between, and resource for, likeminded Berlin producers.
"Here is the real collective," says an excited Brieler. "Say we meet someone who has the right spirit. From that moment, we are completely willing to give what we have here. Everyone connected can use everything, from the studio to the telephone to all our connections and help it's a completely open resource."
His enthusiasm is as genuine as Jazzanova's vision is refreshing. It's little wonder that the crew brings so much warmth to the music they create, including their painstaking reworkings of tracks by colleagues such as 4 Hero, U.F.O., Incognito and Ian Pooley. Jazzanova: The Remixes 1997-2000 brightly demonstrates that the collective cares to climb inside the musical worlds of those they remix, respecting each artist's spirit. They understand clearly that different visions and colour palettes can be shared to make a more vibrant whole. "There you are exactly at the point!" exclaims Claas. "We still don't have the exact definition for it, but that is Jazzanova."