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Kristian Borring

Out of Nowhere

by Ian Mann

October 21, 2021


A typically classy, intelligent & sophisticated offering from Borring. Excellent playing combines with a wealth of harmonic & rhythmic complexities, these cloaked inside Borring’s gift for melody.

Kristian Borring

“Out of Nowhere”

(Cool It! Records – Symphonic Distribution CAT545420)

Kristian Borring – guitar, Rick Simpson – piano, Mick Coady – double bass, Jon Scott – drums

Kristian Borring is a Danish guitarist and composer currently based in Perth, Australia, where he holds a teaching post at the Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts. He has also immersed himself in the local jazz scene, performing with the bands Number Junky, Canto Brazil and The Awakening Ensemble among others.

Previously Borring spent a number of years in London, remaining in the UK after completing a Masters Degree at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama 2006.

After establishing himself on the London jazz scene he released his début album “Nausicaa” in 2011, made in the company of a British quartet featuring Arthur Lea (piano), Spencer Brown (bass) and Jon Scott (drums) and featuring a guest contribution from saxophonist Will Vinson, a British musician now based in New York City.

The excellent “Urban Novel” (2014) saw Borring maturing as a musician and composer and featured a quintet line up including Lea, Scott,  Irish born bassist Mick Coady and vibraphonist Jim Hart.

Another impressive album, 2016’s “Silent Storm” built upon this success and was recorded with the quartet of Lea, Coady and Scott.

All three of the above albums are reviewed elsewhere on The Jazzmann.

In 2017 Borring released the digital only concert recording “Live at The Vortex”, documented at a 2016 appearance at the London venue by a quartet featuring Scott, pianist Rick Simpson and bassist Dave Whitford.

Borring has also recorded in a duo format with pianist Bruno Heinen, the pair releasing the album “Postcard To Bill Evans” in 2015. Review here;

During his London days Borring also recorded two albums with the organ trio Acrobat, featuring Will Bartlett on Hammond B3 and Pat Davey at the drums. The second of these, 2019’s “Make Your Stand”, is reviewed here;

Borring has also worked prolifically as a sideman on the London scene working with vocalists Monika Lidke and Sara Mitra and with saxophonist Tommaso Starace among many others.
I was lucky enough to see him play live with Starace’s quartet in Shrewsbury back in 2011 and was highly impressed with his contribution and by his virtuoso, but understated, technique. My review of that Shrewsbury show can be found here;

This latest addition to Borring’s catalogue was recorded in London in 2019, prior to the pandemic, and features a quartet of regular collaborators, Rick Simpson on piano, Mick Coady on double bass and Jon Scott at the drums.

The programme features six original pieces from the pen of the guitarist, plus arrangements of Charlie Parker’s “Bloomdido” and the Johnny Green title track, a song dating all the way back to 1931.

The album commences with “Five to Six”, ushered in by Scott at the drums, his neatly structured intro leading into a blues tinged melodic theme. Pat Metheny is an obvious touchstone for Borring and the Dane exhibits something of the American’s melodic gift, in addition to a similarly pure and warm guitar sound. Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder and Brad Shepik have also been cited as influences on Borring’s playing and Borring himself has also credited both Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall.
There’s a Metheny like fluency about Borring’s playing here as he combines effectively with Simpson, while Coady and Scott provide intelligent and flexible support. Borring and Simpson share the solos on a track that epitomises Borring’s delicate strengths. He’s definitely a virtuoso, as my only live sighting of him to date at Shrewsbury revealed, but never a show off.

“Epsilon Eridani” is an episodic composition that is reminiscent of Metheny at his best, passing through several distinct phases, with Scott’s drums sometimes coming to the fore. Borring takes the first solo, followed by the impressive and inventive Simpson. The interplay between the guitarist and pianist is also impressive, as is the contribution of the consistently excellent Scott.

The title of “Three Rivers” was inspired by Borring’s visit to the beautiful German city of Passau, en route to performing at the Inntoene Jazz Festival in Austria. This is opened by a delicate and lyrical passage of unaccompanied guitar but the music subsequently becomes more urgent as Simpson takes over the soloing duties, stretching out in invigorating fashion. The contrast between the exuberant Simpson and the more laid back Borring is fascinating, but the two also combine highly effectively as part of a well balanced and interactive quartet that has been working together for a number of years. Borring’s own solo features some of his liveliest playing of the set and Scott again features strongly.

“Palace Fever” was inspired by Borring’s move to Western Australia and the combination of its solid backbeat groove and airy melody are reflective of the relaxed Antipodean lifestyle. Borring solos with an easy fluency, followed by Simpson on one of the album’s most accessible and engaging cuts.

The title track sees the group pared down to a trio as Borring, Coady and Scott address the venerable standard in contemporary fashion, while staying true to the spirit of the original. Borring’s low key virtuosity comes even more into focus here and there are also features for Coady and Scott, both of whom excel throughout.

Simpson returns for the lyrical ballad “What You See is All There is”, which unfolds in unhurried fashion during the course of its near seven minute duration. The piece incorporates elegant solos from Borring and Simpson while Coady and Scott provide sensitive rhythmic support, with the drummer deploying brushes throughout.

“Hipster” finds the quartet revisiting a tune that first appeared on the “Urban Novel” album back in 2014. The personnel is slightly different this time round but the piece remains busy and urgent, reminiscent of the London environment that inspired it. Coady and Scott handle some complex rhythmic configurations as Borring and Simpson deliver restlessly inventive solos, these followed by a feature for Scott towards the close.

Finally the quartet tackle Charlie Parker’s bebop standard “Bloomdido” with gusto, throwing off the shackles with Simpson soloing in a manner that has evoked comparisons with such greats as Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. Borring’s own contribution adds some lithe, slippery bebop lines while the rhythm section combine to form an ebullient presence throughout, with Scott also featuring with a series of effervescent drum breaks.

Following in the wake of his previous quartet / quintet recordings “Out of Nowhere” is a typically classy, intelligent and sophisticated offering from Borring.  Although largely deliberately unflashy it features some excellent playing from all the musicians involved, plus a wealth of harmonic and rhythmic complexities, these cloaked inside Borring’s gift for melody.

It may all be a little low key for some, but Pat Metheny’s legion of followers are likely to find much to enjoy here, particularly fans of the early stuff. Borring favours a clear, orthodox jazz guitar sound and has thus far resisted the temptation to wander into the world of synths and synclaviers.

The UK’s loss is very much Australia’s gain.

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