FESTIVAL ROUND-UP: Jazzdor Berlin 2017 (Part Two)

Kalle Kalima at Jazzdor Berlin 2017 

Jazzdor Berlin Festival 2017
(Berlin, Kulturbrauerei/ Kesselhaus, Berlin. May 30 – June 2, Review, photos, DrawNotes(*) by Henning Bolte)

Our round-up of Jazzdor Festival in Berlin is in two parts. Part One dealt with a new multinational supergroup confiuration and six mainly French configurations (LINK). This part deals with the music around four striking characters: Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima, French guitarist Marc Ducret, French clarinetist Louis Sclavis and German drummer Dejan Terzic. Respectively: a Finn from Berlin teaching in Switzerland; a Parisian from Paris teaching in Denmark; a Lyonnais from Paris whose groups function as launchpads for strong upcoming talent. a Serb born in Bosnia, grown up in Germany and teaching in Switzerland. 

Kalle Kalima (b. 1973)

Guitarist Kalle Kalima’s world is a world full of inimitable dry, shrewd twists with a humorous knack making use of a broad range of the electric guitar. He seems to have inexhaustible resources of ideas at his disposal to transform stuff which are known into things which are both pleasant and strange. (review of his recent Western&Country album High Noon ).

Kalima is not so much operating in macro perspective triggering those wide panoramic views like his colleague Bill Frisell. It is the sum of his twists and turns on micro level that make his mildly ‘beefhearted’ music charming and provocative. He has been part of the Berlin scene for quite a while and acting in eleven groups he is one of the most prominent guitar voices inn Germany at the moment.

Kalima, fond of classic cinema, has made a couple of albums inspired by movies of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Luis Bunuel and Finn noire like Kaurismäki, Niskanen and the inspector Palmu films of the 60s. At the core of these films is a characteristic melange of sad and funny sentiments. It is a refreshing kind of inventive anachronism at work here nourished by Kalima’s Finnish heritage and childhood memories intertwined with deeper Berlin moods and sentiments. “This town was also the reason how this Fenno-German group came together in the first place. There is a certain roughness in Berlin that goes along with the dark Finnish pictures”, as Kalima puts it himself (more over the way of inspiration you can find here  ). The Klima Kalima trio with the two famous Berlin Olivers, bassist Oliver Potratz and drummer Oliver Steidle, started more than 12 years ago and up to now made four albums: Helsinki on my mind, Chasing Yellow, Lorn and the already mentioned album Finn Noir.

Klima Kalima teamed up with French trombonist Yves Robert. Yves Robert is the strongest wild card of Philippe Ochem, the inventor and artistic director of the Jazzdor concept. Robert is a joker that literally always works when you bring him in at the right places. In the case of Finn Noir it revealed as a great match. Robert’s strong and shiny contribution was not only filling up or filling in. It counterbalanced and intensified the Klima Kalima made sound. The guitar-trombone combination offers a lot of strong possibilities. Within this special Klima Kalima world it revealed as a great combination carrying the music to a higher level.

Marc Ducret

Marc Ducret (b. 1957)

Marc Ducret is an uncompromising sharp-edged guitarist of clear musical visions. His music is a sophisticated scattering of a diversity of musical elements radically stripped to its very essences. His guitar functions amongst others as flamethrower, shredder and magnetiser. Piloted from a higher level/plan a vigorous force is emanating from it. With its high dynamics it causes (controlled) chain reactions providing cohesion, coherence and unity. Contraction and expansion, scant and rich, restricted and unrestricted, fast forward and lingering, are the poles between which the music unfolds and fuses. One of the strongest bases of his music is Ducret’s trio with eminent bassist Bruno Chevillon and magnificent drummer Eric Echampard. Métatonal is an expansion of this guitar trio by an equal number of strong horn players namely trumpeter Fabrice Martinez (Thomas de Pourquery Supersonic), Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser and stunningly energetic saxophonist Christophe Monniot. The debut album of Ducret’s guitar trio + 3 dates already back to two years ago but the music is of high urgency and right in time now.

Ducret appeared to be in bright mood and the group in top condition. He connected to his musician and the audience in a highly decisive, outgoing and inviting way that did not miss its effect on the music. Clear highpoints of the festival’s highlight were the pieces “Inflammable” and 64. In 1964 Bob Dylan’s album The Times They Are A-Changin was released. Ducret’s “64” included a 53 years after Date echo of it and of “Wigwam”, Bob Dylan’s only instrumental piece dating from 1970 (Ducret was seven respectively 13 years old then).

Whereas the music was already recorded live in 2014 the Berlin concert was a fully matured, sharp edged version where everything fell into place and the group outgrew itself. It revealed as a killer band, a sledgehammer thing that made the blood run faster, aroused all spirits and left deep memory traces. It was clearly something you experience every once in a while.

Louis Sclavis
Photo Credit © Mathieu Schoenahl

Louis Sclavis (1953)

Louis Sclavis has become a central towering figure of jazz in France. He has achieved this stable position by a clear but constantly changing focus/theme of his music and consequently by an adequate (re)combination of musicians for the realization and development of each focus/theme. More than other musicians he went for the themes and as a consequence there has been a constant and quick change of personnel of his line-ups through the years. By working with varying combinations of differing temperaments, ages and instruments he secured the clear (rhapsodic) character and the openness of his music ( review  ). It also helped to escape its fossilization and to prevent losing ground and getting lost in abstraction. Sclavis is a musician that draws deep furrows and digs deep thereby shaping the music in real time. He is far enough away from beaten tracks and close enough to the inculcating. Distilled traces of theme related music styles always resonate in the music in a clear but not superficial or obvious way.

Drawnote by Henning Bolte

His groups seem to function as a kind of geyser (or cadre factory) for strong upcoming French talent. Besides the two long time companions violinist Dominique Pifarély and pianist Benjamin Moussay the Loin dans les terres quintet comprises two profiled and worthy musicians of the younger generation, drummer Christophe Lavergne and bassist Sarah Murcia. Drawing deep furrows takes time and for listeners the group sometimes might have escaped in the depth of the field. Happily they re-appeared more forceful leading the music into still richer emanations and stronger reach.

Quatuor IXI & Dejan Terzix Melanoia
Photo Credit © Mathieu Schoenahl

Dejan Terzic (1970)

The world of German drummer Dejan Terzic is a world of a special use of Balkan rhythms, characterized by overlapping rhythmic cycles rotating around each other. The music is passing through contrasting or more continuously shifting modes and states of motion. There are straightforward propelling parts/pieces but also lingering ones, engorging parts/pieces as well as slowly crumbling ones. It is a varied and layered world of perpetual motion given shape by Terzic’s Melanoia group (comprising pianist Achim Kaufman, guitarist Ronny Graupe and saxophonist Hayden Chisholm) and his Axiom group – see the LJN review of his last year appearance at Jazzdor with his Axiom quartet comprising reedman Chris Speed, pianist Bojan Z and bassist Matt Penman (reviewed) , documented also on the group’s recent CamJazz album Prometheus.

A daring next step is the inclusion of a string section fully engaging in that world and thus able to handle the complex time signatures and to deeply debouch into the groove. Teaming up with French string quartet Quatuor IXI comprising first class jazz musicians Théo Ceccaldi, Régis Huby, Guillaume Roy and Ashushi Sakaï was an apt and obvious choice then. It is a good example of the expansive continuity of the collaborations initiated by the festival. It is a collaboration also documented on a just released excellent album Red on noted Hungarian BMC label.

It’s a fascinating world of instruments and musicians with a beautiful record out. In the concert concluding the festival much of it came together. There were bright and colourful moments and decent contrast and interlocking of parts. The strings were operating on the cutting edge and Berlin saxophonist Christian Weidner, last minute subbing for Hayden Chisholm, brought in a full value new voice to it. The subtleties and the sophistication of the transitions were sometimes lacking a bit. It revealed that this kind of large ensemble work is a slowly growing organism also for these musicians.

The atmosphere during Marc Ducret’s performance
Photo credit: Patrick Lambin


The Jazzdor program reveals how jazz music is created and performed in and through a network of connections between (groups of) musicians. It resembles very much the functioning of nerve systems with its knots, synapses connections and strengthening firing activity. Jazzdor is doing more than just setting up some nice momentary transnational connection between musicians. Mostly it goes with a wider perspective: in branching steps and by stimulating the firing activity analogous to the evolvement and strengthening of connections in nerve systems. This way nerve system can also interconnect (and feed into each other). Good choices – based on familiarity with and deeper insight in networks – are essential to achieve that. Jazzdor has contributed to this – in coordination with other cultural activities – to a considerable extent. In making it the core of a festival Jazzdor is still giving direction to the field as a well working model. Interest and engagement have to be mutual, substantial and continuous in order to really set something in motion.

(*) DrawNotes are made synchronous with the performance as a mnemonic tool

Categories: miscellaneous

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