photo by Dmitrij Matvejev
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (b. 1971, Oppdal) – studied Jazz at the Music Consevatory in Trondheim, Norway (1992-1995) under the tutelage of bassplayer Odd Magne Gridseth. When one listens to the great bassists in modern jazz history, a striking thing (though it may not be immediately arrived at) is that greatness is reached through open-mindedness and diversity. William Parker, Malachi Favors Maghostut, Peter Kowald, Wilbur Ware, Bertram Turetsky, Buell Neidlinger – all of these bass players have embraced a lifestyle of playing all sorts of music and the breadth of each musicians’ technique is a testament to those experiences. Norwegian bassist and composer Ingebrigt Håker Flaten is also a musician whose experience is both geographical and aesthetic. While the fertile Scandinavian new jazz scene offered a vast amount of opportunities to work in different bands with musicians whose concepts are as individual as the grains in a reed, Flaten has found home and on-the-bandstand education in places as far flung as Chicago and his current residence Austin, Texas. A muscular player whose tone and attack run the gamut from Paul Chambers to Buschi Niebergall, his sense of both openness and control serves ensembles as diverse as The Thing, Free Fall, Atomic, Scorch Trio and the Kornstad/Håker Flaten Duo. In addition to his own Chicago Sextet and Austin-centric Young Mothers, Flaten has also recorded and performed with Frode Gjerstad, Dave Rempis, Bobby Bradford, the AALY Trio, Ken Vandermark, Stephen Gauci, Tony Malaby, Daniel Levin, Dennis Gonzalez and numerous others. Flaten studied at the Conservatory in Trondheim (1992-1995), turning professional shortly afterward, yet his hunger to play in new situations with new musicians – schooled or amateur, frequently recorded or just starting out – puts him in a rare class, that of a truly broad-minded artist. That mettle has served him well, living and developing the music under his own steam and drawing from influences as diverse as Derek Bailey, George Russell, Chris McGregor, filmmakers Ingmar Bergman, contemporary pop melody and gritty punk music as well as everyday sights and sounds. There is a calmness and self-assuredness that imbues all great artists, in that the diversity of their work comes with very little ego. Flaten’s artistry is often in collective, leaderless ensembles and in fact, following a decade of professional musicianship it wasn’t until 2004 that his leader-debut was released – Quintet (Jazzland, followed in 2008 by The Year of the Boar, and a Sextet recording is upcoming). This latter fact is partly due to the necessity of a copacetic situation – in an interview in 2010 with the Austinist he noted that “I use people where I’m located. It’s inspiring to have your own band to write for, but you have to make sure that people feel free and not limited by the music; the compositions should lead the way to a player’s open mind, and that is a challenge.” Certainly not every bandleader/composer thinks this way. In 2011, he formed another ensemble, The Young Mothers, which includes drummers Stefan Gonzalez (Dallas) and Frank Rosaly (Chicago), trumpeter/poet/rapper Jawaad Taylor (New York), saxophonist Jason Jackson (Houston), and Jonathan Horne (Austin) on guitar. It’s a group of varying levels and influences and as it grows organically, will be another excellent lens through which to view Flaten’s aesthetic, philosophy, and musicianship. The next few years see him in a position where established ensembles can steep and spread their influence, while experimenting with and nurturing a wide range of new relationships.