REPORT: Second night of the 2015 Berlin Jazz Festival (and a taxi-ride)

Sebastian writes:

Here are a few more jottings and iPhone snaps(first night here) in advance of a round-up review I’m writing. [UPDATE: My round-up is now published on Telegraph online]

I finally made it to the tiny A-Trane Club in Pestalozzistrasse (sign above) for Giovanni Guidi’s Trio with Thomas Morgan and Joao Lobo (Adrian Pallant reviewed their CD for us and they will also be part of the Jazz Line-Up stage in the EFG LJF). The concentration of the audience who were packed into this tiny club was extraordinary. The presence of a Steinway in the club helps too….This group seems to suspend time over long stretches, they traverse effortlessly from pulse to pulse and from mood to mood. Guidi has a predilection for creating sustained textures with tremolando fills, and for building intensity with long arches and concentation spans.  The perfect intonation, the power, clarity and authority of Morgan’s bass playing are everything you could ever want. I am definitely late to this party, but Guidi’s trio absolutely deserve to be heard live.

Achim Kaufmann (fourth from left) receiving the Albert Mangelsdorff prize

Earlier in the evening the quietly spoken German pianist Achim Kaufmann had received the main prize of the Union Deutscher Jazzmusiker, also proudly funded by the German collection agencies, the Albert Mangelsdorff prize. He was born in Aachen in 1962, and studied in Cologne, Banff, Amsterdam, and with Steve Lacy in Paris. Kaufmann performed a short set with charismatic and inventive drummer Christian Lillinger, singer/reciter Gabriele Guenther and the fine bassist from Pablo Held’s trio Robert Landfermann.

Keith Tippett (second from left) acknowledging the warm applause in Berlin

The first set on the main stage of the Haus der Festspiele was Keith Tippett’s Nine Dances of Patrick O’Gonagan. We did a podcast interview with him ahead of the World Premiere in the summer of 2013, and it was good to see this work gain a wider airing. This Berlin audience took its time to familiarize itself,  and to warm to unfamiliar music (perhaps it needs more explanation/ narrative/scene-setting?), but the succession of rhapsodic interludes and folk-inspired dances, and some inspired soloing, particularly from Fulvio Sigurta and James Gardiner -Bateman wove their magic. So, by the time Julie Tippetts (nee Driscoll) came on to deliver her number, the “Stimmung” in the room had warmed considerably.

There was less warming-up required with Miguel Zenon’s quartet with Luis Perdomo, of whose set I saw just the opening skirmishes. Zenon is a high-energy, fiery, fluent improviser, and he and his group just launched straight in. They hit the traps in an energetic punchy angular fast 5/4.

The end of my evening brought a chance encounter which made a connection with jazz of a different kind.1 I met a genuine, committed, completely absorbed and knowledgeable fan. The Iranian-born Berlin taxi driver who took me to Friedenau was playing a CD by Till Brönner in the cab, and our conversation got going. He always plays jazz in the cab, he told me. He is a complete devotee of Berlin Jazz Radio– except on Friday and Saturday nights, he told me, when the “electro-jazz” is somewhere beyond his comfort zone. He had listened and read interviews with Richard Williams in advance of the festival, had made sure he had got in good and early, and had bought his tickets for the Charles Lloyd / Tigran Hamasyan concert tonight, and was looking forward eagerly to hearing both. As, needless to say, am I.

Categories: miscellaneous

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