Anne Mette Iversen is a genius. A student at the prestigious Rhythmic Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a 2001 graduate from The New School University, Anne Mette has resided in New York City for the past several years. In addition to performing with many US-based artists, groups and orchestras she shines while leading her own groups. Her picturesque compositions cross all musical strata and shatter genre in her able hands. Her latest offering is the brilliant double disc, “Best of the West + Many Places”. Written in four movements, it is a sophisticated and profound marriage of classical music and jazz. It is, in a word, Brilliant!
BAJ: Thank you for taking a moment to speak with Bass Musician Magazine, Anne Mette! “Best of the West + Many Places” is an incredible undertaking and a marvelous work! Please describe your composing practices, and the subsequent steps before the piece takes flight? For instance, do you compose from the piano?
Anne Mette: First of all: Thanks for your nice compliments! Most of my writing is done at the piano. But sometimes I get ideas and do some writing on the bass too, often growing out of something I am practicing. Most of the times I have a concept or a specific idea with a composition, before I sit down and start writing. And even when I am writing just a simple jazz-tune, I prefer to know which instrumentation, and maybe even which musicians, I am writing for. I try to let the music grow out of the initial idea in it’s own natural way, and my experience is that when I limit my basic ideas to a few and develop those, I get a better inner structure of the piece. Also the over-all form of the composition is very important. So in a way I set up a few parameters that I can fill in with my initial idea and personal language, and as I let inspiration take charge, I try to keep in mind the bigger perspective of the composition, so it stays on a meaningful track.
BAJ: Your tone is wonderful! What instrument did you record “BotW” with, and how does it compare to your other instruments? Also, will you describe your miking and tonal concepts for the recording?
Anne Mette: I play an Austrian 5/8 double bass from around 1860, no specific maker, and I only have that one. It is a warm and dark sounding instrumentent that speaks pretty loud, especially for a 5/8 size bass. When I record I always use two mics. One placed fairly close to the F-whole and one straight in front of the bass, in level with the bridge, a couple of feet away. My tonal concept in general is to get as much of the accoustic sound as possible, you know; try to capture the actual tone that the musician has on his/her instrument.
BAJ: What does your daily contrabass practice regimen consist of? Also who are your musical influences?
Anne Mette: I normally start by practicing technique; very basic stuff with various scales and arpeggios, and I work on expanding my range and comfort-zone on the bass. Then I usually move on to practice specific “musical problems” being for instance a certain tune, soloing on difficult changes, getting inside a certain sound/voicing, a rhythmical thing or odd meter, and stuff like that. I also work on bowing control and through playing classical pieces I work on my sound and intonation. My musical influences are all from Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, etc. to all of the jazz-greats including Steve Swallow, Charlie Haden, PC, Ron Carter, Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Stan Getz; and also several Brazilian composers and musicians such as Elis Regina, Tom Jobim, Caetano Veloso.
BAJ: Since the concert with Josh Ginsburg, in 2004, have you considered another “double-bass” series? What are the different tonal considerations for playing in that environment, and does that environment appeal to you?
Anne Mette: I haven’t actually considered doing a “double-bass” series. I find that it is a very hard thing to do, and although fun and a great learning experience; I haven’t found a good concept for it that I’d like to build on. It might be something that I’d like to do more of at some later point in my career; and maybe if anything it would be a meeting between a classical player and a jazz player.
BAJ: As you are such a prolific composer, how do you approach your supporting musician role when playing with Aki Takase or Nina Natasia?
Anne Mette: When I like the music, which I totally do when playing with both Aki Takase and Nina Nastasia (and many others), then I just love being part of the group-sound and helping convey their musical ideas and personality. I don’t have a personal need to be heard or stand out in that sense; and even in my own music I seldomly take on the role as front-figure. What serves the music best is what I try to bring to the table as a player.
BAJ: Do you have time to teach, and is that part of your weekly routine?
Anne Mette: I only have a few private students on a weekly basis, but I also give single lessons when people ask me to, or if I have time during a tour; and that is both bass- and composition-lessons.
BAJ: Are you currently touring? Where are you playing?
Anne Mette: I just played the release concert for the double album “Best of the West + Many Places” at The Jazz Gallery in New York City. Currently I am looking into setting up concerts on the East Coast for the fall. Both with my quartet, the Anne Mette Iversen Quartet and with the string project that is heard on “Best of the West”. And then the plan is that we’ll be going to Europe with all this next spring.
BAJ: What do you listen to (musically)? Do make time to listen to music on a regular basis?
Anne Mette: I seldomly have time to actually sit down and listen to a whole CD. But I listen to music when I’m around the house and when driving or on the train/bus/plane. Currently I listen to classical music from the 20th century, and to organ (classical) music. And then whatever is on the jazz radio stations, older as well as new jazz music.
BAJ: Thank you for taking time with me today! Any closing comments?
Anne Mette: Anyone interested in keeping up-to-date or listen to my music are welcome to visit my website: www.annemetteiversen.com, and also to send me an email or get on my mailing list.