OSLO — Mathias Eick has a simple explanation for his iconic style of music: “I didn’t see any future in repeating what’s already been done.” That kind of thinking is the essence of jazz, and that kind of thinking has produced Eick’s almost indescribable surprising, haunting, harmonic, rocking jazz sound. (To hear this sound, click on the image above.)
“I grew up with a lot of standard jazz — mainstream, Dixieland — a really traditional background jazz-wise,” Mathias told me after a concert at The National Jazz Scene in Oslo. “My father used to play that kind of music all the time when we were in the car and at home, and my mother used to play classical music and sing classical pieces all the time.
“So I was surrounded by classical and jazz all the time,” he said. “At a certain moment when was I was 16 or 17 years old, I had this vision that I wanted to do this when I grew older but I didn’t see any future in repeating what’s already been done. I had this idea that maybe some beautiful day in the future, maybe I could bring a lot of the tradition into the contemporary time and try to look forward In the compositions and the improvisations and the rhythmic choices and harmonic choices.”
Mathias’s departure from traditional jazz came at a price: “All of this came after a vision so to speak,” he said. “It started with the idea of sadly in some kind of way saying goodbye to my father and everything he stood for in the swing jazz tradition and moving on to try to make something new and something that was my own.”
Mathias has come by his mastery of his instruments and his compositions honestly. And while he might have said goodbye to his father’s musical styles, he owes the beginnings of his mastery to his father’s early “encouragement”.
“I spent it mostly on candy at first, but actually I saved my money and I bought my first trumpet when I was 11,” he said. “And then my father and my mother and my grandmother and everyone chipped in and we bought the trumpet I was playing on tonight. And I’ve been playing that trumpet ever since I was 11. I’ve been thinking about that lately — there aren’t many professional trumpet players I meet who are still playing on their first instrument!”
All of the choices Mathias made have resulted in a style of jazz that is very hard to describe. It’s almost spiritual and ethereal. But other times, he and his quintet explode with raw, pounding energy. Sometimes Mathias plays his trumpet, other times a keyboard, and sometimes he uses his own voice to create a lyric-less vocal sound.
We talked about what might be influencing his compositions. “I’m really fascinated by Buddhism and by the way designs and music can be inspired by this tradition,” he said. “I’ve been reading a lot about Buddhism these last years … if you adopt some of those ideas — that the simplicity can be so much stronger than the opposite if you do it the right way and if you do it with honesty and with emotion.
“I’m really, really, really into these ideas,” he said. “I hope those ideas come across in the music. It’s not intentional, but it’s the stages I’ve been going through and the books I’ve been reading and the thoughts I’ve been having over the last few years. I’m really fond of simplicity both in design and in music. I’ve been trying to bring those elements together in an elegant way.”
One of Mathias’s most elegant pieces is the song he often uses to close his concerts as the encore song: “For My Grandmothers”.
“It’s a love song called ‘For My Grandmothers’ because it’s about my grandmothers. It’s about family and close relationships and time going by and generations and all the love you can have if you’re happy and born into a family with a lot of love for kids and for each other,” he said.
“A lot of people relate to that,” he said. “After concerts, I get phone calls and emails and people come up to me. Also when we play that song, I can hear people start to get emotionally touched by it. That’s a really wonderful thing for me to experience — That people are connecting with my emotional state in writing the music and communicating it and reaching the people.”
Learn more about Mathias:
Mathias Eick website: https://www.mathiaseick.no
Mathias Eick on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathias_Eick
Mathias Eick on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCph5VxqGHD7fNvUFejl7whA
Mathias Eick on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6emZIO62oAXpIGiplDApwJ
Mathias Eick on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mathiaseicktrumpet/
The National Jazz Scene
Address: Karl Johans gate 35, 0162 Oslo, Norway
Phone: +47 23 89 69 23
This is a CLASSIC jazz concert venue. It’s a combination of a theater and a bar. But the difference between a bar and The National Jazz Scene is that people are there to LISTEN! For Mathias Eick’s quieter songs, you could have heard a pin drop. That’s how intent the audience is on focusing on the music. It’s tight and close and feels very legit. The second level balconies are especially cool and the bar that runs almost the entire right side of the theater is gorgeous.
For concerts like Mathias Eick, you’ve got to buy your tickets early AND get there early as the seats are not numbered so it’s first-come, first-served. I highly recommend getting a seat down front as you’re practically in the performer’s laps and get to see the intensity and physical expressions of the musicians as they perform.
The National Jazz Scene is a real treasure and well worth a visit. Their musical line-up is always top-notch and when the show is over, you’re right in the middle of Oslo with all sorts of after-show options for food and drink.