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Simon Toldam & Prügelknabe by Simon Toldam

An aural workout of free jazz, with snippets of melodic lines enmeshed in chaotic, open improvisation by an eclectic nine-piece orchestra. The music is sometimes haunting, sometimes whimsical, always clever.

Simon Toldam is a young Dane who attended a local music school at the age of 7 and formed his first "orchestra" a piano trio at the age of 9. According to the bio posted on his record company’s website, he was to have graduated from Copenhagen’s Rhythmic Music Conservatory, a specialist school in contemporary music, in 2006. His training suggests that his free jazz compositions on Simon Toldam & Prügelknabe are purposeful and structured (although not obviously so).

To get an idea of the music on this release, here is a descriptive clip from the press kit: The orchestra ".... brings the music nowhere and anywhere simultaneously, telling stories you know you haven’t heard before. Improvised aggressive parts abrupted [sic] with semi-classical textures goes hand in hand with two Swedish female vocalists, sometimes making sounds, sometimes lyrics."

Indeed. The music here is often a-melodic but still oddly accessible. For example, the opening track, "kapgang eller jogging," begins with an assertive, repetitive piano run down partial chromatic scales with random drums and trumpet improvisation on top.... but then eventually slides into a sparse, almost melodic section with voice, strings, and piano. The second tune, "frossenpind," is a kind of whimsical tragedy-comedy, and would perfectly fit a Cirque du Soleil performance as contemporary circus music (even with its interlude of disjointed percussive sounds). "istap#1" makes a fairly clear thematic statement and is held together by a repetitive left-hand piano arpeggio, and it flows into the similar but more energetic "istap#2."

Then there is "ipos - for headphones." This is really just aural exploration by mixing a variety of sounds together to see what kind of color they create - long sustained drones on strings, then trumpet, with an occasional punctuation of what sounds like the noise of a wooden chair scuffling briefly on a wooden floor.

Free jazz fans should like Simon Toldam & Prügelknabe for its freshness; it is also a somewhat less risky step into free jazz for anyone whose tastes are evolving in that direction.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Simon Toldam
  • CD Title: Simon Toldam & Prügelknabe
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: ILK
  • Tracks: kapgang eller jogging, frossenpind, baby butterfly, istap#1, istap#2, kolo, ipos – for headphones, kønsroller, ruberto vågner
  • Musicians: Simon Toldam (piano), Graig Earle (bass), Anders Provis (drums), Qarin Wikström (voice), Josefine Lindstrand (voice), Heliane Blais (viola), Alexander Kraglund (violin), Emma Nordlund (cello), Thomas Caudery (trumpet)
  • Rating: One Star
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