Plenty of your hipper bands might vary their influences list with acts like Tortoise, Charles Mingus, and the Neptunes just to prove they are cool. With the risky, sprawling, and somehow serene Jaga Jazzist, you can actually hear it. The ten-piece jazz-meets-electronics band from Norway came to life in 1994 when their main brain and songwriter, Lars Horntveth, was only 14. Two years later their debut album, Jævla Jazzist Grete Stitz, appeared, and Norwegians got their first taste of the band's combination of jazz chops and electronic quirkiness. Two years after that the Magazine EP appeared, but it was 2001's A Livingroom Hush that grabbed all the attention due to rave reviews and distribution by Warner Bros. in their homeland. Coldcut's label, Ninja Tune, picked the album up for worldwide distribution in 2002 and BBC radio listeners crowned it the Jazz Album of the Year.
The remix-based Animal Chin appeared at the end of 2002 and was followed in 2003 by Stix, an album that found the band using more electronics without the help of remixers. What We Must followed in 2005 before a five-year break took the band out of the studio and off the road. Jaga Jazzist returned in 2010 with One-Armed Bandit, featuring new recruit Stian Westerhus on guitar, though he left the group after that recording. The band's next project was its most ambitious to date: a concert recording with the 25-member Britten Sinfonia, which found the group in a sprawling, colorful collaboration with one of England's finest modern classical orchestras to present something that stretched the creative boundaries of both groups. The recorded evidence, Live with the Britten Sinfonia, was issued in May of 2013. A suite of songs based on the constellations, and how views of the stars change around the globe, the 2015 album Starfire was influenced by Horntveth's move from Norway to Los Angeles. ~ David Jeffries