The Prize Winner 2001
Marilyn Mazur | Photo |

Marilyn Mazur (DK) – dancer, percussionist, drummer, bandleader, vocalist and composer - b. January 18, 1955.

At the JAZZPAR Concerts 2001 Mazur preformed with two of her established groups - Future Song and Percussion Paradise - including a number of JAZZPAR Soloists: Aina Kemanis, Hans Ulrik, Eivind Aarset, Elvira Plenar, Klavs Hovman, Audun Kleive, Lisbeth Diers, Benita Haastrup, Birgit Lykke LArsen, Palle Mikkelborg, Anders Jormin, Josefine Cronholm and Fredik Lundin.

Mazur is no newcomer to the JAZZPAR Project. She performed at The JAZZPAR 1994 Event and she has been nominated for The Prize in 1998 and 1999. Among her many releases "Circular Chant" (Storyville) with her Pulse Unit specially assembled for the JAZZPAR Event 1994 is one praised documentation of her art.

Mazur, born in New York, has been living in Denmark since she was six. During the introductory period of her career she studied classical piano and danced ballet (Creative Dance Theatre in 1971). Later she took a degree specializing in percussion at the Royal Danish Conservatory. But by and large she is self-taught on the very many instruments she command and she is inspired by music from all over the world.

As composer and pianist she formed her first band, Zirenes, in 1973. From 1975 she worked as percussionist, drummer and singer with various groups. She became the colorful percussionist and composer of Six Winds with drummer Alex Riel and she led the all-women-music-theatre-group Primi Band. In 1983 she received the Ben Webster Award and the same year she initiated a quartet with saxophonist Uffe Markussen.

During those formative years Marilyn Mazur played and/or recorded with John Tchicai, Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra, Thomas Clausen, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Jon Balke, Bobo Stensson, Rena Rama, Palle Mikkelborg, Kenneth Knudsen, Irene Schweizer, Lindsay Cooper, Peter Kowald, Arild Andersen, Andreas Vollenweider, Charlie Mariano, Jesper van't Hof, Rita Marcotulli, Lena Willemark and many others.

One peak in Mazur’s career came up in 1985, when Miles Davis hired her as the permanent percussionist of his band. For long periods between 1985 and 89 Mazur toured with Davis through most of the world. In 1986 she also went on the road with Gil Evans’ Orchestra. In 1987 before leaving Davis definitely, Mazur did a world-tour with Wayne Shorter’s group. These top-ranking jazz artists have all valued Mazur's pervasive, penetrating percussion.

In 1989 Mazur chose to resettle in Denmark. She wanted to concentrate on some new creative concepts of her own, to write music and to front a new international seven-piece band Future Song. This American-Danish-Norwegian-Yugoslavian musical alliance has survived to the present with intact personnel and frequently does special concerts that involve i.e. dancers and choir.

Since 1991 Mazur has toured all over the world with Jan Garbarek Group and they have recorded three CDs released on the ECM label.

Developing her own unorthodox and swinging style, the drums have gradually become Marilyn Mazur’s main instruments. She has been focusing more and more on directing her own groups and on composing. An hour-long suite, "City-Dance", for a 40-piece mixed orchestra and a church concert, "Sofias Stemmer" ("Sophie's Voices") for three voices, children’s choir, percussion and organ are two examples of her realized projects. Mazur's suite for the Brande International Music Workshop 96/97 was nominated for the Nordic Music Award 98.

In 1999 Marilyn Mazur played at the first Biennale de Percussions in Guinea. She toured with Marilyn Crispell, Maria João, Eliane Elias and Marc Johnson. She wrote a suite, "Den Kuglerunde Jord" ("The ball-shaped Earth"), performed by about 200 children and herself at a cultural-friendship-festival in the area where she lives.

Mazur likes when music is telepathic, surprising, emotional, warm and alive, to reach from the softest lyrical touch and mysterious grooves to powerful wild energy. Her music contains jazz, rock and ethnic elements, but it is none of them - and does not try do be.

Mazur's compositions utilize dramatic combinations, for instance when she fuses warm intimate voices with cold metal percussion and electronic distorted sounds. Mostly her exceptional dance-like music is beautiful, warm, transparent, obliging or even seductive. Sometimes her inclination goes towards so-called free jazz or modern compositional music. Dreaming and suggestive music or violent and dirty as a reflection of a more unpleasant reality, she is always generous with her energy and magic sounds, a dull moment never occurs.

Look Marilyn Mazur up in references and on the Internet and you will repeatedly find phrases like this: "known as the colorful / flamboyant percussionist on the Danish scene". It is true that Mazur has many abilities to employ when she is speeding around an burgeoning array of multi-ethnic metal, wood and clay instruments. "Marilyn is like the wind. An elemental force", says Jan Garbarek.

Mazur always seems remarkable honest and devoted with her art - the rich colors of her music and her performances are never the result of gimmicks. She has involved herself in daring projects based on musical curiosity and personal friendships rather than fast turnovers and easy life.

At the JAZZPAR Concerts 2001 we experienced some different constellations showing various aspects of Marilyn Mazur. Instead of a cornucopia of orchestras and equipment it was important for this Prize Winner that all musicians participating would be given space to show what they could and what they had most at heart.

The American magazine Down Beat selected Mazur as a "talent deserving wider recognition" in their critics poll 1989, 1990, 1995, 1997 and 1998. She has been nominated twice prior to now winning The JAZZPAR Prize in 2001. A major intention of this prize being to encourage jazz artists who are specially deserving of further acclaim.

Marilyn Mazur definitely deserves wider recognition

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