Recorded in January 1999
Released in January 1999
Dacapo Records DCCD9440



Peter Wessel / Cuadernos De Jazz (Danish)
Peter Wessel / Cuadernos De Jazz (Spanish)


  • 01
    Stranger than Jim
  • 02
    Lullaby For Tchicai
  • 03
    Lilli Goes To Town
  • 04
    Song For The Swan
  • 05
  • 06
    Abe Teyata
  • 07
    Baton / Lonely Woman
  • 08
    De Fructa Oris
  • 09
    Hawk Meets Sun Ra
  • 10
    Baby Gorilla Walk
  • 11
    To You S.A.
  • 12
    Something Else



  • John Tchicai (vocal, soprano & tenorsax)
  • Achille Succi (bass clarinet)
  • Josefine Cronholm (vocal)
  • John Ehde (cello)


By Arno Victor Nielsen, Danish philosopher

The giraffe was the favourite animal of the French Surrealists. You can´t see a giraffe without smiling The giraffe is an emblem of the infinite absurdity of existence. Children all over the world know innumerable stories about how it got its long neck. The giraffe is so grotesque and meaningless that we have to find an explanation, knowing full well that we will never find the definitive one. And that is what is so liberating about the animal. The giraffe is a crux for thinking. It doesn´t observe any of the rules of beauty and harmony, yet no one would dream of calling the animal ugly.

When we are confronted with the giraffe, all our notions af function and beauty break down. Of course, anyone can see that the animal is perfectly designed for living on the African savannah and eating the leaves off trees. But why does it have ti look like an ostrich on four legs? A giraffe looks like no other animal and yet it is a bricolage of other animals. On its head it has antlers - sometimes as many as five. The tail comes from an ox, the fur is a panther´s. The eyes - oh, those big eyes! It must have got them from a large, beautiful bird.

In an encyclopaedia you can read that the giraffe is unusual, striking, peculiar, strange, immense. In short, the giraffe puts us in a state of happy, liberating wonder. If the giraffe is real, anything is possible.

The giraffe purges the eyes the way Pierre Dørge´s New Jungle Orchestra wants to purges the ears. Their music too hangs together not because of, but in defiance of all good sense. Just as the giraffe is composed of lots of other animals in the most surprising way, the New Jungle Orchestra´s music is composed of rythms, keys, styles and themes from several continents and from the history of music. In the jazz context, instruments as different and strange as the cello and the tarogato increase the "alienation effect". The music is at once wholly original and yet so familiar. And when you hear it, you can only smile.

Julius Caesar brought the giraffe to Europe. Pierre Dørge and his New Jungle Orchestra have brought "World Music" to Denmark and spread it all over the world again. This year (1998) the orchestra turns 18 and thus reaches the age of majority according to Danish law. The orchestra has grown up, become more retrospective and perhaps less dadaistic. The tight opening number Stranger Than Jim is dedicated to the film director Jim Jarmusch, but is also a nod to Ellington, who along with Ornette Coleman is one of the Orchestra´s two mentors. Coleman´s Lonely Woman is also quoted here in a vocal version. In the title number Giraf and not least in Hawk Meets Sun Ra we feel transported to good old New Orleans. The freer the jazz is, the more enthusiastically it seems to confirm its roots.

For me, Abe teyata, which is Mandingo and means "it is good" contains the essence of the New Jungle Orchestra´s version of World Music. There is no cult of ethnic here. Everything is transformed into raw material for the free expression of the members of the Orchestra. And into fuel in a music machine that is also a time machine. We begin in Africa and after a trip to Sweden we are back in Africa, where the jungle drums sound exactly as in the Tarzan films

The through-composed De Fructa Oris was inspired by Henry Purcell (1659-1695), while To You S.A. was inspired by the lifeless voice in the telephone thet tells you that you have the wrong number. Nothing is too low, and nothing is too high to be used as building material in the Orchestra´s unpretentious, cheeky, genetic engineering of music. And the result is musical mood pictures that range from a Persian market in Lullaby for Tchicai to the heart-rendingly beautiful lament in Song for the Swan by and for the composer and friend of the orchestra Helmer Nørgaard, who died this year.