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

“Like musical speed-dating” – Jazz Labs

Round-up:  Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2017
(Bozen/ Bolzano Wed. 5th July.Report by Alison Bentley)

Rawfishboys, EURAC
Jazz Labs and Warped Dreamer, Messe Bozen/Fiera Bolzano
CLOD! Hotel Four Points by Sheraton

Lodged in among Suedtirol’s mountains are modern buildings, with large white rooms, like blank canvases for the musicians to work with. The EURAC research centre was holding a conference: Artists on the road – Paths and boundaries of travelling. The Rawfishboys’ music (from their album Fengling) led us on a journey through high double bass harmonies, (Brice Soniano) where the bow bounced across the strings, along with free bass clarinet (Joachim Badenhorst.) Repeated arpeggios recalled Phillip Glass, but with more harmonic movement. The White Starline had the ardent timbre of Klezmer from Badenhorst, while another piece gave us bluesy lilts and a Dudu Pukwana feel – imaginative and beautiful music.

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Brice Sonianao and Joachim Badenhorst of Rawfishboys

On the outskirts of town, three stages had been created in the simple white space of the Exhibition Centre- no distractions- just the music. The Jazz Labs ‘experiment’, where 14 musicians from 6 countries improvised together for the first time, was like musical speed-dating. Duos and trios, and finally two larger groups, were given 7 1/2 minutes before the sound of a giant gong moved us on to the next group.

Lightning sketches: Filippo Vignato’s gravelly trombone conversed with the rumbly crashes of Onno Govaert’s drums; Leila Martial chattered in the imagined language of childhood over Reinier Baas’ rough-edged guitar; the metallic creak of Pascal Niggenkemper’s double bass pushed against Francesco Diodati’s insistent guitar chords and Manuel Hermia’s melancholy, growling sax.

Sylvain Darrifourcq‘s drums ticked like a clock to the underwater multiphonics of Joachim Badenhorst’s bass clarinet; Laura Perrudin’s rich-toned chromatic harp chords blended with Ben van Gelder’s breathy sax and Eisikur Orri Olafsson’s melodic trumpet. Valentin Ceccaldi’s dark rock cello tones grooved with the molasses sound of Joris Roelofs’s bass clarinet. It was like experiencing many different phases of the same long piece. Warped Dreamer took us into a dream sequence to delight and disturb. Arve Henriksen’s trumpet sounded like a wooden flute (he’s studied the Japanese shakuhachi as well as Norwegian willow flute from his own country)- the effect was ethereally beautiful. A nightmarish section broke out, with Hawkwind-like electronic sounds. Blistering trumpet and primal drumming (Teun Verbruggen, Belgium) sounded as if they might rouse another Iceman Ötzi from the mountains. Slow wave sleep followed, with pastoral trumpet and energised restraint from Verbruggen, recalling Eric Harland’s work with Charles Lloyd. There was another ferocious phase, as if all your favourite heavy rock bands had visited your dream at once, then gentle guitar, from Norwegian Stian Westerhus, a little like Nguyên Lê. Pulsing keyboard sounds from Jozef Dumoulin (Belgium) faded into guitar played with a violin bow; Henriksen’s delicate falsetto voice in a hymn-like song brought an ecstatic innocence to the dream’s end- superb musicianship in an amazing variety of moods.

A door slid aside and we were suddenly, dream-like, in a hotel bar, with Netherlands-based young band CLOD! grooving as the cocktail-drinking audience spilled out on to the warm street. There seemed a strong link with Black Market-era Weather Report, with a funky backbeat from Mark Schilders’ drums, a pleasingly distorted keyboard sound from Koen Schalkwijk– and strummed guitar from Dario Trapani. A slower piece with vibes-like keyboard, and Brecker-ish tenor (Nicolò Francesco Ricci, ) brought us close to 90s Steps Ahead- but for a new age with elements of punk and drum & bass. Sometimes Alessandro Fungaro’s electric bass set up a groove, but the drums took it in a completely unexpected direction, interlocked in unsettling, complex beats. A superbly-played, original and modern take on classic jazz funk.

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