About Thorbjørn Risager
Thorbjørn Risager is a hard-swinging Danish blues musician and songwriter whose singing voice sounds cobbled from one-part Ray Charles, one-part Bob Seger, and one-part Joe Cocker. Also a fine guitarist, he leads Black Tornado, an octet he founded in 2003. A fan of Southern soul, roots rock, and Chicago blues, Risager fused these sounds with jump jazz for his acclaimed debut Live 2004 on the Cope Records label, run by his trumpeter Peter Kehl. After seven full-length recordings -- including the award-winning From the Heart in 2007 and the charting Dust & Scratches in 2012 -- he signed the band to Ruf Records, where they have remained, issuing internationally regarded albums such as Change My Game in 2017.
Risager was born in Copenhagen and studied at the Rytmisk Music Conservatory. In 2003 he founded Thorbjørn Risager Blue7. They played festivals in Denmark and surrounding countries. Following their debut album, Live 2004, the group changed its name to Black Tornado. The newly named outfit issued the studio offering From the Heart in 2006. Celebrated by radio DJs and journalists, it took home the German Critics' Prize for Best Blues Album. A year later, the follow-up Here I Am appeared, and as the band's popularity spread -- as much for their intense live show as their recordings -- across Europe, they toured relentlessly. Their sound shifted to bring in more roots rock and rockabilly, wedding it to vintage Muscle Shoals-esque R&B. After 2009's woolly, ragged Live at the Victoria, Risager and Black Tornado re-entered the studio and delivered Track Record, which was also distributed in France by DixieFrog. The latter recording showcased the band's meld of swampy, hard-driving blues rock in their originals and a horn-drenched, funky cover of "Baby Please Don't Go." By the time they issued 2012's Dust & Scratches, funky soul and jump blues had entered the main body of their sound. A year later they issued the digital-only ten-year anniversary compilation Between Rock and Some Hard Blues: The First Decade as a download on Risager's website, and later made it available for streaming.
They started to attract international attention from as far away as the United States and Canada, and to that end the band left Cope for Germany's Ruf Records because of its ample worldwide distribution, particularly in America. The live Too Many Roads was released that year to international acclaim. It was followed by Songs from the Road, a live audio and video disc package, in 2016. It too won the PdSK (German Critic's Award). Risager's first studio outing for the label was 2017's Change My Game. Cut in Copenhagen between January and August of 2016 (between touring runs), the set was engineered by Henrik West and Lars Andresen, and mixed by Søren Bøjgaard. Thanks to some serious road dogging across the pond, it was Risager's first album to register first in Canada and the U.S. before hitting the charts at home. In January of 2019, Risager and Black Tornado re-entered the Viktoria Studio with engineer Peter Iversen. Adding elements of psychedelia and the influence of J.J. Cale, they wrote and recorded as time permitted and finally finished in October. On January 10, 2020, exactly a year after they began recording, they delivered the title track single "Come on In" to streaming; the full-length followed on January 31. ~ Thom Jurek
BORNMay 19, 1971