The internationally renowned Grundtvig’s Church, an architectural pearl on top of Bispebjerg in Copenhagen’s northwest, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The church was built to commemorate priest, poet and politician N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872), whose thoughts on Christianity, the Age of Enlightenment and democracy have been extremely influential in Danish culture. The idea of a church honoring Grundtvig originated from architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen Klint (1853-1930). The foundation stone was laid in 1921, and the church was inaugurated in 1940. Klint’s design was inspired by the typical Danish village church, for – in the architect’s own words – “the town church is the mother of Grundtvig’s Church”. Using five million yellow bricks, he combined the typical medieval village church with the market town’s gothic church and its great European ancestor, the cathedral. In perfect, harmonious dimensions and clean-cut, lucid lines he created the unique architectural vision of a crystal. The pillars, the rounded arches and the reflective light, produce a welcoming sanctuary mirroring Grundtvig’s interpretation of Christianity. The church houses no images. It is in itself an image uniting the unassuming common life on earth with enlightenment and divinity in the friendly exchange, which is the very core of Grundtvig’s ideas.
As part of the celebration of Grundtvig’s Church’s anniversary, saxophonist and composer Hans Ulrik was invited to compose music to be performed in the church and on CD – a jazz mass. Historian Henrik Jensen’s highly personal cultural critique was likewise written for the occasion. He examines history from 1940 to our time, zooming in on defining years – 1945, 1967, 1989 and 2001 – in a poetic framework. His entire text is included in the album notes paired with Ole Meyer’s beautiful photos of the church. Hans Ulrik’s contemporary historical jazz suite is composed in four movements plus prelude, sacrament and postlude and inspired by Henrik Jensen’s words as an expression of the mood of each period. THE SUITE OF TIME characterizes the period from 1940-2015, in which the 75-year old church has seen the development of the late modern society from the German occupation in the ‘40s through the reflective ‘50s, the youth rebellion of the ‘60s, the silent generation of the ‘80s to the IT boom and financial crisis. Henrik Jensen states that the chaos of two world wars shrouds the period in a shadow of latent cultural pessimism, challenging hope and political vision.
Hans Ulrik is one of Denmark’s most popular and dedicated jazz musicians. He is renowned not only for his Scandinavian sound but also for his versatility. Born in 1965, he began playing saxophone at an early age. He studied at Berklee College of Music 1984-86, and a year after his return to Denmark he started playing professionally. All through his career he has led his own bands, but his focus enables him to contribute to other’s projects without losing his own identity. His exquisite and solid playing is in great demand, leading him through a long list of freelance assignments and session jobs. These abilities combined with a genuinely professional attitude have made him one of the great saxophonists in his generation. He has proven that it is possible to make jazz albums that are modern, artistically important and inviting. In other words: Hans Ulrik has reached a broad audience without compromising his artistic integrity. Over the years he has released a string of influential albums in collaboration with John Scofield, Peter Erskine, Eliane Elias, Lars Danielsson, Lars Jansson, Gary Peacock, Eiving Aarset, Steve Swallow, as a member of Emborg/Larsen Group in the ‘90s, with Marilyn Mazur Future Song, the Danish Radio Big Band and many others.
SUITE OIF TIME is a grave work in a unique Danish mood, written by a mature and lucid artist of international format. He chose his musicians for this unusual and challenging project among the best of the best. Everyone in the band behind SUITE OF TIME is an outstanding artist in his own right, and each has made their mark – also as bandleaders.
Hans Ulrik, sax; Henrik Gunde, Fender Rhodes; Peter Rosendal, flugabone and Wurlitzer; Kaspar Vadsholt, bass; Anders Mogensen, drums; Marilyn Mazur, percussion.