Mean Mean Machine (2021) is an explosive reimagination of the contemporary jazz quintet: grounded guitar-fueled nearly-danceable jazz with a finger on the pulse and a fist in the air. A flaming response to the critical state of the world and an homage to the extreme beauty that still exists in humanity and the small things.
Teis Semey grew up in the Danish country side and the southern Swedish industrial city Malm̈o. Initially isolated and later mostly around the criminal environment, Semey was kicked out of his school at age 13 and found music through an integration project meant to help troubled youth. Since that age, Semey has dedicated his time and attention to making and performing music. After studying in Malm̈o, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Los Angeles, he is now based in Amsterdam and releasing his third album as a band leader.
Mean Mean Machine features the Teis Semey Quintet on seven tracks. All songs are original music by Teis Semey, and explore everything from his roots in punk in Sun Song to his Scandinavian background in Glue (or the Eternal Struggle of Beauty) which recalls a near- corporeal feeling of lifting slowly up above cold cliffs and beaches. The quintet takes a near orchestral shape in the atmospheric and gloomy Requiem, one of the darkest pieces on the album. In Bamboo Eyes and A Strange Absence of Birds the band takes a more indie-rock influenced character, with strong riffs being the main driver. In that vein, the album completes the journey with Monday in Turqouise and Tragedie, both songs in which you hear the band unfold their potential for interplay and let loose over exciting and unorthodox melodies, which are hard to exactly place but nonetheless feel relatable.
The band features a number of exciting musicians with particular own sounds and voices. Mixed and mastered with grammy-nominated producer Attie Bauw, the flowery, virtuous, uninhibited and imaginative composing and playing of Teis Semey and his band comes to fruition with a grungy modern jazz album worth hearing twice.
Teis Semey – Guitar, compositions
Alistair Payne – Trumpet
José Soares – Alto saxophone
Jort Terwijn – Double bass
Sun Mi Hong – Drums
Recorded November 2020 in Wisseloord Studios by Alessandro Mazzieri. Editing by Alessandro Mazzieri. Mix and master by Attie Bauw. Artwork by Teis Semey.