Jakob Draminsky Højmark

Bass clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Jakob Draminsky Højmark is best-known for the lovely lines he played for a decade alongside French pianist Pascal Comelade. But he also enjoys an active career as a composer, mainly in the fields of electro-acoustic music, improvisation, and opera. Based in Barcelona, Spain, since 1990, he has released a string of albums on his own label MultiSounds.

Højmark is born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is mostly self-taught on both his instruments, but attended many workshops by Danish musicians in his formative years, thus studying shortly with Pierre Dørge and John Tchicai, among others. A six-month stay at the Holstebro Music School in 1976 introduced him to the music of John Cage and sparked an interest in creative music, yet the young reedsman preferred to first take a shot at success. From 1977 to 1986, he got involved in many projects — jazz-rock combos, Balkan folk, salsa music groups, party bands, studio work — that kept him alive and fed. In need of a new beginning, Højmark moved to West Berlin in 1986 and tapped into the free improv scene there, playing with Peter Hollinger, Sven-Åke Johansson, and Wolfgang Fuchs, with whom he further developed his mastery of the bass clarinet.

Back in Copenhagen, he formed the noise-improv duo Tzarina Q Cut with guitarist Jørgen Teller. Mainly active in the late '80s and early '90s, the unit toured Denmark, Germany, and Spain, where Højmark decided to remain. In Barcelona, he began to develop an interest in computer music. Dreamjingles (1990), his first solo CD (following two self-released cassettes), focused on computer-enhanced saxophone and clarinet pieces. At around the same time, he started writing operas with acoustic and/or electro-acoustic scores. "Turandot" (1993) initiated a lasting collaboration with librettist Peter Lausegen. En Landsoldats Dagbog (1995) and Memory (1996) found their way onto CD in 1997. Since 2000, the ambitious acousmatic opera installation/concert "aN eMPTY sPACE?" has been presented in Denmark, Spain, Italy, and Japan.

In the early '90s, Højmark got drafted in the Barcelona version of French naïve composer Pascal Comelade's band (the Bel Canto Orquestra), alongside Mark Cunningham, Pierre Bastien, Oriol Perucho, and Gat. He first appeared on one of the pianist's recordings in 1993 (Danses et Chants de Syldavia) and left a mark on most of his albums up to and including the 1999 Live in Lisbon. His last live performance with Comelade happened in 2000, but he continued to play with his bandmates, namely with Cunningham's group RAEO. Most of them appear on the Comelade-influenced CD For the Birds (2001), Højmark's lightest solo record to date. ~ François Couture, Rovi