ROUND-UP: 29 and 30 June at Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2016

Jazz Labs 

– Ulrich Beckerhoff, Glauco Venier, Rosario Bonaccorso, EURAC
– Anna Widauer& Matthias Legner, Parklaurin Hotel
– Jazz Labs, Exhibition Centre
– Kompost 3 and König both at Hotel Four Points by Sheraton
– Diodati, Kinzelman, Stemeseder, Museion Passage
(Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2016. 29 / 30 June 2016. All venues in Bozen/Bolzano. Review by Alison Bentley)

At the Suedtirol festival getting the venue right for each band is important. The EURAC research centre was holding a conference: Culture Meets Economy. One of the questions posed was: how can music change your sense of place?- and vice versa.

Wednesday 29th June

In the austere, modern conference room, Italians Glauco Venier on piano and Rosario Bonaccorso on double bass were joined by German trumpeter Ulrich Beckerhoff (also artistic director of Jazzahead.) All have played with an array of famous musicians, but to hear them together was special. Bonaccorso’s compositions had a joyful feel- he scatted beautifully along with his bass, (Mister Kneipp) and sang lyrics to Storto, recalling Toninho Horta. Beckerhoff’s phrasing was Chet Baker-like, bending his long flugel motifs across the bars of the fast-moving chords. Venier’s Troll’s Party (he’s recorded this with Norma Winstone) had a Monkish feel and effortless swing. A slow ballad had piano notes like water drops, and plaintive flugel arcs. The room had been transformed into a very beautiful place by the music, full of feeling. In the Parklaurin Hotel in the early evening were local musicians Anna Widauer and Matthias Legner with delicate vocals and subtly swinging vibes. Time slowed down as they unfolded their fresh take on standards. Widauer brought an intense focus to the lyrics of Nature Boy, Almost Like Being in Love, Skylark, with understated jazz phrasing and scatting. Her voice was pure, with a slight Bjork-like throatiness. Legner spelled out the harmonies with a few well-placed notes, creating a serene place in the garden.

‘Jazz Labs’ was where sixteen musicians, mostly from Austria and Italy, formed new groups for just the one gig. The musicians were playing with their regular bands elsewhere in the Festival, but what would come out of this new experimentation? In a huge exhibition centre in Bozen/Bolzano’s industrial area a magical space had been created with ethereal lighting. Each group played for about twenty minutes; some were working from written parts, while others seemed completely improvised, like the first group: Francesco Cusa, drums; Mirko Pedrotti, vibes; Joe Rehmer, bass; Giovanni Benvenuti sax. From time-no-changes swing, an In a Silent Way feel developed, with a gorgeous tenor tone.

Next were Benjamin Schäfer, keyboard; Matteo Cuzzolin, sax, and Anna Widauer, showing a more improvised side to her voice than in her previous gig- with strange syllables and creaks They created chords from each other’s notes, sax and voice intertwined.

Matthias Schriefl, resplendent in ironic green lederhosen to accompany his alpenhorn, was with Francesco Diodati, guitar and Max Andrzejewski, drums. Diodati strummed wavering chords, at one time even detuning his strings, which sounded like an electronic effect. Andrzejewski crouched over his drums as if listening out for what they were about to do- they were thundery, then eerie with bow on snare. Schriefl played euphonium and alpenhorn simultaneously- part of the luscious layers of sound.

In these miniature conversations, some seemed to be more talkative than others. Peter Evans on trumpet and Elias Stemeseder both played very physically, with cascades of notes, crashing chromatic chords and wild free phrases. There were exciting, convoluted unison lines at high speed. The audience loved it.

The last quartet played three pieces with varying textures, with Dan Kinzelman, sax; Mario Rom, trumpet; Siegmar Brecher, bass clarinet and Tobias Hoffmann, guitar. The horns in harmony and tremolo guitar slowly overlapped notes, and the chords changed imperceptibly, like stage lights changing colour. The last piece was especially fine, with bubbling clari bass notes, a free trumpet/guitar duet and skittish sax. The experiments were a resounding success.

‘Follow the candles,’ someone said. They led us on a path through the impersonal, deserted walkways of the Centre- typical of the subtle attention to detail you find at the Festival. We arrived at the Sheraton Hotel’s retro bar. (Remember smoking?) The quartet Kompost 3 were grooving in the corner, while the audience spilled out of the hotel’s entrance into the warm night, some dancing in the street.

Lukas König on drums and Manu Mayr on electric bass were creating a fab club groove behind Benny Omerzell’s squishy synth sounds and (real) Fender Rhodes- emphasising textures rather than solos. More often, the beat had a funkier feel, sometimes with Hammond sounds, like Soulive. Martin Eberle’s small trombone and trumpet cut through distantly and brilliantly, like Miles Davis in You’re Under Arrest. König’s drum rolls were as light and delicate as moth wings. Time signatures shifted (10/8, 7/8) but were always dancey. These were grooves to be measured by Geiger counter rather than metronome.

Lukas König (aka König) upped the anarchy in his solo set of drums, samples and rap- with fluorescent lips, dayglo colours and humour too. ‘Welcome to my world!’ he said- a musical world of his own imagination. His rap recalled some of Casey Benjamin’s vocoder work with Robert Glasper. A big backbeat was lightened by unbelievably fast sticks on cymbals- I had to look twice to see if it was really happening. He played driving funk to a sampled Ornette Coleman solo- and sang along to it. You felt Ornette would have approved.

Anna Widauer (R), Matthias Legner (L)

Thurs 30th June

There was just time to catch the first half hour of Diodati-Kinzelman-Stemeseder in the high, cool atrium of the Museion Gallery. Elias Stemeseder, in more meditative mode than the previous day, plucked the high strings inside the piano to introduce Satie-like chords. One of the gig’s pleasures was the timbre created by the unison lines between piano and Francesco Diodati’s guitar. The guitar trailed sublime lines behind repeated piano notes and Dan Kinzelman’s angular tenor lines- a perfect blend of staccato and legato. They picked up each other’s phrases and strolled dreamily with them. There were big rushes of sound, subsiding into the harmonics of Kinzelman’s bass clarinet.

Do Culture and Economy meet? The Festival is a wonderful experience, not least because there’s enough support from regional organisations and businesses to allow it to happen.

Categories: miscellaneous

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