Si Tu Veux
Katzen Kapell played in the San Francisco area in october 2007.This article was published in San Francisco Chronicle. Katzen Kapell Squeeze box is front and center in diverse Swedish band whose experimental sound is inspired by Piazzolla, Zappa and Stravinsky Derk Richardson Thursday, October 11, 2007 Catharina Backman has a great excuse for playing the accordion. \'They forced me to,\' says the founder and leader of the eclectic Swedish band Katzen Kapell. \'I played the piano but was touring with a small circus, and they said, \'You won\'t have this job unless you learn the accordion.\' \' In 1986, after a couple of seasons with Varieté Vauduvill, Backman got together in Stockholm with a few former fellow music students and formed Katzen Kapell. (The name was inspired by the Katzenjammer Kids comics but also derives from the Swedish words for cat and ensemble.) By then, Backman had changed her tune about the squeeze box. \'I didn\'t even like the instrument,\' she said in a recent midnight telephone conversation from Sweden, \'until I heard the bandoneon player from Argentina, Astor Piazzolla.\' Upon listening to the master of tango nuevo in 1984, Backman recalled, \'I just thought, \'I\'m in heaven.\' The music was so beautiful, so tender, so aggressive, so humoristic, so rhythmic. It really appealed to me. I couldn\'t copy it, but I\'m really inspired by it.\' In Katzen Kapell, Backman\'s passion for Piazzolla plays against keyboardist-composer Magnus Andersson Lagerqvist\'s fascination with Frank Zappa and Igor Stravinsky. Add a classical violinist (Eva Lindal), acoustic double bassist (Gustaf Hielm), rock-influenced drummer (Erik Hammarström), and jazz-inspired vibraphonist and percussionist (Kjell Nordeson) and you have a band that Backman says appeals to \'mixed audiences, from teenagers to very old people.\' In an e-mail exchange, vibist Nordeson, who divides his time between Stockholm and San Francisco, noted that Katzen Kapell plays \'all kinds of venues - jazz clubs, art venues, contemporary music series, concert halls, rock clubs. I have the impression that audiences can easily relate to our music in many ways.\' Nordeson joined the group in 1991. He has his own ambivalence about the instrument he plays. \'I have some kind of love-hate relationship with the vibraphone,\' he said. \'I love it's potential for creating melody and harmony, but am often frustrated by it's unchangeable pitch. That feeds a need to override the instrument and avoid it's idiomatic cliches.\' Katzen Kapell has proved a perfect vehicle for such experimentation. \'The band manages to stay away from too academic an approach, and nourishes a closeness to an alternative prog-punk tradition,\' Nordeson said, \'despite the fact that Catharina has gone through seven years of university studies in classical composition.\' With three CDs to it's credit, including the new \'Si Tu Veux,\' Katzen Kapell is only now making it's U.S. debut - four shows in the Bay Area pivoting around an invitation from Other Words, the fifth annual San Francisco International Poetry Festival. At the Swedish American Hall Sunday - and Wednesday at Stanford University\'s Wallenberg Hall - the band will accompany actress Sara Lindh reciting lyrics by Swedish poet Bodil Malmsten. Katzen Kapell\'s compositions and improvisations now draw on dance hybrids from North Africa, the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent, as well as European folk music and modern film scores. The sound should play well in San Francisco, birthplace of groups like Tin Hat and Tango No. 9, because, as Backman said, \'the music fits in everywhere and nowhere.\' - Derk Richardson, 96Hours@sfchronicle.com This article appeared on page G - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle.