FESTIVAL ROUND-UP: Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2017 (1 of 3)

Suedtirol 2017 featured artist Ben van Gelder with Reinier Baas
Photo credit Ralf Dombrowski

Round-up: Mon. 3rd July Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2017. 
(Bozen/Bolzano.  3 July 2017. Report by Alison Bentley)

Marraffa-Chientaroli-Govaert Bozen/Bolzano Filmclub
Francesco Diodati Yellow Squeeds +2 Parco Semirurali, Bozen/Bolzano
Anne Paceo “Circles” Batzen Sudwerk Ca’de Bezzi, Bozen/Bolzano

How does what we see affect what we hear? This festival always emphasises the importance of location, and in the mountains of Suedtirol the venues can be spectacular or intimate.

How do images or sounds, put together randomly, create film and music? In the late 90s, Austrian filmmaker Gustav Deutsch put together clips from film buried in archives for the last 100 years- he called the result Film Ist. The effect was at times beautiful, surreal or comic: a nightmarish Cocteau world. The three musicians improvised to what they saw on screen as well as heard from each other. Italian Eduardo Marraffa’s sax squalled as bouquets flew into a woman’s hand. A woman’s terrified face on screen even seemed to be responding to the sax. As steam from a train appeared to blow back on to the trio, Nicolas Chientaroli (Argentina) created high, sliding piano harmonics. Onno Govaert’s (Netherlands) bass drum dropped bombs as images of war appeared. The stylised expressions of silent screen actors created narrative, just as the arcs of the trio’s sounds created spontaneous music.

Francesco Diodati’s Yellow Squeeds
Photo credit: Alison Bentley

Sometimes the location creates a sense of dislocation. The Semirural Park where we heard guitarist Francesco Diodati’s Yellow Squeeds (plus 2 guests) was only semi-rural; the wildness of the mountain backdrop reminded us nature can’t be fully tamed.

Diodati’s Italian band played his intriguing compositions with a sense of wildness written in. It was as if the horn lines were extrapolated from the voicings of his electric guitar, which started restlessly, rockily, lurching deliriously from chord to chord, behind Francesco Lento’s crunchy trumpet solo (Diodati’s arrangement of Brilliant Corners.) Another piece had the weight of dark riffs (Glauco Benedetti, tuba and Filippo Vignato, trombone) and quirky rimshots (Enrico Morello) holding in the avalanche of notes. Everyone seemed to be soloing at once, but with carefully-directed sections. A breathy sax-led ballad (Ben van Gelder from the Netherlands) had Fender Rhodes (Enrico Zanisi) and harmonised horn lines lapping at the melody. Another piece had seemingly random Hendrix-ish guitar chords which suddenly made total sense as the horns joined up the notes and created a groove. This was brilliant writing and improvising: semi-elemental.

Photo credit: Alison Bentley

In the deep, dark cellar at the Batzen brewery, French drummer Anne Paceo’s French band Circles were improvising with instruments and pedals, as their own had been lost in flight. They hugged each other before going on, and the trust between the band members created a sense of intimacy that filled the cellar. The music was mostly from their 2016 Circles album. Sunshine had contrasting grungy funk beats from Paceo’s expressive drumming, and sweet breathy vocals from Leila Martial. Tzigane (a reference to Paceo’s ancestors) had circling gypsy sax/vocal lines and a big groove with bass lines from Tony Paeleman’s keyboard. Christophe Panzani’s plaintive soprano solo was full of angular, liquid lines. The dreamy, melodic Hope is Like a Swan stirred into Toundra, with its African beats filling the space between long vocal and sax lines. Martial broke into a wild glossolalia rap with rock energy. Perfect late-night jazz-funk with a meditative heart.

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