In 1978, Danish percussion master Marilyn Mazur founded the bold, innovative Primi Band, an all-female music-theater ensemble that drew from a deep well of primal energy and experimental audacity. Four decades later, Mazur reinvents the core concepts in an adventurous new fashion with Shamania, a gathering of ten of Scandinavia’s most inventive and respected female musicians.
Whereas Primi Band culled its members from risk-taking but non-professional musicians, Shamania comprises ten highly respected (but equally daring) artists from the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian avant-jazz scenes. Their stunning debut album is a vivid combination of primeval forces and virtuosic musicianship, fiercely original imaginings and deeply organic emotions, communal energies and singular voices.
Regardless of any categorization, the ten musicians that make up Shamania are a remarkable gathering of artists, with a decades-spanning age range from 28-year-old drummer Anna Lund to Mazur, taking on elder stateswoman status at 64. Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker was an original member of Primi Band, and has since gone on to perform with such esteemed improvisers as Craig Taborn, Sylvie Courvoisier, Fred Frith, Gerald Cleaver, Ikue Mori, Marilyn Crispell, Tim Berne, and countless others.
Award-winning Swedish vocalist Josefine Cronholm and Danish percussionist Lisbeth Diers are both frequent collaborators of Mazur’s, including as part of the now-defunct quintet Percussion Paradise. Japanese-Danish keyboardist Makiko Hirabayashi has also enlisted Mazur for her own trio as well as working in several of Mazur’s other ensembles.
The remaining members of Shamania are largely new acquaintances for the veteran percussionist. Norwegian vocalist and saxophonist Sissel Vera Pettersen has brought her experimental approach to the music of composers like John Hollenbeck, Theo Bleckmann, and Chick Corea, while trumpeter Hildegunn Øiseth (also from Norway) offers the unfamiliar sound of her hand-made goat horn to Shamania’s already wide-ranging palette. Lis Wessberg is one of the leading trombonists in Denmark, where she’s played with such world-renowned artists as Randy Brecker, Ray Charles, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts.
Norwegian bassist and singer Ellen Andrea Wang blends genres in new and unprecedented ways, merging jazz and pop elements with a unique balance of the lyrical and the rough, the acoustic and the electric, creating a unique sound with her own trio as well as the critically acclaimed indie-jazz band Pixel. Swedish drummer Anna Lund is the founder of the uncategorizable indie-jazz band Hurrakel.