An espresso with…
Maxime Bender

Image Credits: Maxime Bender © Maxime Bender

February 12, 2019

Universal Sky

We interviewed Maxime Bender, saxophonist, author and Luxembourg bandleader who told us about the Universal Sky project.

> Ivano Rossato

How was Universal Sky project born?

U.S. was came about from my desire to bring a new sound and instrumentation together. I used to play in a traditional setting: piano, bass, drums, saxophone. I wanted to change something and explore a new path. Putting together organ & guitar, not the traditional jazz style is an interesting idea and a combination. It really fits. I’ve know the other musicians for a long time. I used to play with Manu Codjia in a band together with Anne Paceo. I knew Jean-Yves from the work he is doing on piano in Bireli Lagrene’s Band and I played with him many times before in trio settings. Jerome Klein, the drummer of the band, is half French, half Luxemburger like me and we both grew up in Luxembourg. We played together a lot in the past and I like his approach of playing drums and his understanding of music. He is also an amazing composer and pianist. For me these three wonderful musicians and people just fit perfectly together.
What approach do you have at the writing, arranging, and recording of the songs?
For me writing and arranging is a long process. I think a lot in melodies. It’s important for me that you can sing what you hear. In this particular case, I tried to write in a more modern way. Less chord progressions and more strong & simple melodies. More like a good rock/pop song. Often times, unfortunately, recording is something done too quickly. You have a very short amount of time to do everything. Sometimes that’s good because you don’t have to think too much, but when I compose I love to have time to get into details.
What degree of freedom did the other members of the quartet have in defining the final sound?
They are the major part of the sound. They have defined the core of this album through their style of playing. I love to get input from the others; but, the complete vision should already be in my head, precisely, so that ther’s not many questions. Anyway the sound of the band is a constant evolution.
What are for you the biggest differences and challenges in conducting a quartet versus an orchestra?
There is not much of a difference music wise. Like said before, it all has to be clear in my head before going to studio. Of course there is more individual liberty in the songs, improvisation being key. But the biggest difference is the organization. It’s easier to organize calendars for 4, then for 20 musicians!
What are the future plans for the Universal Sky quartet?
We are planning a new recording at the end of 2019, which will come out in 2020. And for sure we want to play and tour more around the globe.

An espresso with…  Maxime Bender copyright Jazzespresso 2019.
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