HE’S Danish, he lived in London for 12 years and now he’s moved to Perth.
Some days jazz guitarist Kristian Borring must wake up thinking he’s in witness protection and ask himself “Where do I belong?”
There’s an element of that in his new album Earth Matters, which has a searching, restless quality with lots of twists and turns and no sign-posted chord progressions.
The end result is a slightly unsettling listen; you can hear a catchy melody but something unusual is bubbling away underneath, perhaps reflecting his recent life-changing move from London to Perth.
“My kids were young when we arrived [in Perth] and my wife pregnant, so I took some time away from playing and focused on them,” Borring says.
“I like what the lifestyle Perth has to offer (who doesn’t) and I love going down to the Southwest too.
“Coming from London it was a nice change of pace, but I did keep going back to Europe for work. When Covid hit, that was probably the hardest because I started to feel isolated. Then again, the isolation of Perth gave us far more normalcy than most places and not being able to travel made me connect more with the scene here, which has been good.”
Borring says he was inspired to write the title track Earth Matters after taking his young kids to an exhibition about Earth at Scitech.
“The exhibition was about innovations and solutions towards helping our civilisation adapt and create a more sustainable future through compassion and science,” he says.
“I think a lot about the future of our planet and the harm we are doing to it, and I try to contribute to watching over our planet in my daily life with a green mindset, which I also teach my children.
“We need a change in mindset at the top. We have so many clever and forward-thinking minds out there with ideas and initiatives that needs to be supported and rewarded.”
Featuring a mix of Borring compositions and reworked Charlie Parker tracks, Earth Matters features Borring on guitar, Zac Grafton on double bass and Peter Evans on drums, collectively knows as Number Junky.
There’s also a few songs that feature the New York-based pianist Fabian Almazan, who was in covid exile in Perth at the time of recording.
The advantage of a trio is that you can really hear the nuances in the playing, and is that evident on the beautifully recorded Earth Matters.
Peter Evans’ drumming really stands out; full of shimmering cymbal work, subtle tom-toms and deft rudiments on the snare drum, it is reminiscent of the musical approach from legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette.
Borring has a lovely warm tone on guitar and you can tell he honed his craft in Europe playing with top musos; his phrasing is assured and he effortlessly picks out melodies with great fluency and intonation.
Borring says he is inspired by the “chordless” ensembles of Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins, as well as piano players like Bill Evans, who revolutionised jazz with his rootless chord voicings and altered harmonies.
“While we’re challenging ourselves rhythmically – which creates an interesting tension – we’re looking to tell stories that are shaped by rich harmony and full of melodic contour,” Borring says.
“We honour and reference the jazz tradition from the bebop masters, (in some case directly with interpretations of a couple of Charlie Parker compositions) to the modern day, but we strive to bring a fresh angle to a tradition that is so much about rhythm and groove.
“Although I’ve always been fascinated with exploring rhythm, the importance of a lyrical melody is always close to me.”
Music runs in the family and Borring is married to Aussie percussionist Genevieve Wilkins, who he met in London, where they played together with Canadian pop artist Karen David and later in the band Dekata Project.
Both now teach at WAAPA and continue to juggle their international music careers.
Earth Matters will be released on August 26 at kristianborring.com
By STEPHEN POLLOCK