Change My Game Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado
- 1I Used To Love You03:51
- 3Change My Game04:58
- 4Holler n Moan04:42
- 5Hard Time04:07
- 6Long Gone05:13
- 7Hold My Lover Tight04:07
- 8Maybe It's Alright04:25
- 10Lay My Burden Down05:22
- 11City Of Love04:59
Info for Change My Game
Talk about a tough act to follow. Back in 2014, Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado released Too Many Roads: the award-winning ninth album that saw the golden-voiced frontman and his seven-piece lineup showered with global acclaim. For the fans who had followed the Copenhagen band since their formation in 2003, it felt like a career-best release.
But we were wrong. With Change My Game, Thorbjørn has raised the stakes once again. In a world where most bands are content to tread water, here’s an album that breaks new creative ground, explores fresh musical directions and delivers a bold batch of songs that are at once catchy and immediate, but rich with deeper meaning.
Released in January 2017 on Ruf Records, Change My Game is not just an album title, but also the guiding ethos that has driven this band from the start. Since making their first impact with 2006’s From The Heart, Thorbjørn and his all-star lineup have dodged media pigeonholes and broken down the boundaries of genre, their confidence to experiment growing with every year spent together on the road. Now, on this 11th album, their musical leap is greater than ever before, with dynamic arrangements sent through the roof by the band’s musicianship and Thorbjørn’s electrifying vocal.
Change My Game finally achieves the studio sound that Thorbjørn has always heard in his head. For the first time, the eight musicians decided to self-produce and mix the entire album, and the result is a visceral production that showcases their best material to date. Rock-influenced songs like Dreamland are hard, fiery and ferocious. Ballads like lead-off single I Used To Love You have an aching emotional power. Meanwhile, for the fans who love the Tornado’s fresh take on classic blues, there’s Train, which opens with a locomotive sound, a lone vocal and an acoustic guitar – before the band turn up the heat and bring the song to its horn-driven climax.
At a time when technology rules the music industry, Change My Game is an album that runs on human chemistry, and that’s testament to the 800-plus shows that this lineup has played together in 21 countries from Canada to India. Firm believers in the power of live music, Thorbjørn and the band will take Change My Game out on the road in 2017, with a touring schedule that will see them raise roofs across the planet and convert countless new fans to the cause.
Fourteen years into their career, these are high times for Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado. Perhaps you thought they’d peaked with Too Many Roads. But with Change My Game, the only way is up…
Thorbjørn Risager, vocals, guitar
Emil Balsgaard, piano, organ, Wurlitzer
Peter Skjerning, guitars
Kasper Wagner, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax
Hans Nybo, tenor sax
Peter W Kehl, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, sousaphone
Søren Bøjgaard, bass, baritone guitar, syntheizser
Martin Seidelin, drums, percussion
Miriam Mandipira-Mumba, background vocals
Pia Trøjgaard, background vocals
Mads Lumholdt, background vocals
Recorded at The Medley Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark in January and August 2016
Recorded by Henrik West and Lars Andresen – Medley Studios and by Søren Bøjgaard – 107C Studios
Mixed by Søren Bøjgaard
Mastered by Mikkel Gemzøe @ Studio C4 and Varibeat Mastering
Produced by Søren Bøjgaard, Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado
In the blues world, a big voice is often accompanied by a big ego (or at least a medium sized one…)
But the Danish singer Thorbjørn Risager, praised for his rough and strong voice by an unanimous choir of critics from a growing number of countries – 15 the last time we counted them – is a soft-spoken gentleman off stage. He is the leader of his seven-piece band mainly for practical reasons – to bring any little issue into a group discussion can be quite time-consuming. He is also composing most of the band’s music, and during the performance he is the obvious center of attention, even if the band has a charming way of passing round the task of introducing the songs between them, so that each musician gets his word in.
And this is a real smooth organization, who has divided all practical tasks such as web master, CD sales on gigs etc between themselves. Which makes life easier in the midst of their heavy touring schedule. Since the start, they have played in 15 countries, and only from Feb – Aug 2010 they have concerts booked in 11 European countries.
But the 38-year-old Dane had other plans for his life. He studied to be a school teacher, and worked in this profession for some years, before he decided to let the music take over. He studied at the Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen, a quite unique education where many of the teachers are jazz- or rock musicians, and where the emphasis is on Rhythmic music of all genres. In 2003 he started his band, selected musicians he liked both musically and personally, and the fact that up until today only one of them left and was replaced, at an early stage of the band’s career, proves that the choice was excellent.
But of course Thorbjørn’s musical interest started long before this. He played the saxophone from the age of 12, then guitar – but the singing was more of a coincidence at first. He was exposed to the blues through a neighbour, a middle-aged gentleman who was friends with his parents, and who started playing blues records to the young Thorbjørn. That’s how his life-long love story with the blues started, with B B King as his biggest hero. Ray Charles is one of his other obvious influences, but today, with almost 40 recorded songs from his own pen, he has definitely defined his own sound and style.
His mixture of genres is something that is sometimes mentioned by critics, who are looking for something of more homogenity. But this is Thorbjørn’s deliberate choice. To hear a band that plays one shuffle after another, or only jump blues through an entire CD or concert, might please some critics but there’s definitely a risk that the audience will get bored.
And this is why Thorbjørn and his band have created their specific sound by other means, especially his characteristic raunchy voice and the band’s typical sound, with its horns, solo performances and rolling, almost big-band-like grooves. So he weaves threads of soul, gospel, rock, R&B and funk into his music, to create a variety and keep the audience interested, something that the band succeeds with on each single gig.