Live reviews

FESTIVAL ROUND-UP: Inntoene 2018 (Diersbach, Austria)

L-R: Soweto Kinch, Nick Jurd and Will Glaser at Inntoene 2018
Photo credit and © Ralf Dombrowski

Inntoene Festival 2018 
(Diersbach, Innviertel, Austria. 18-20 May 2018. Review and photos by Ralf Dombrowski(*))

The feeling – of bafflement – was mutual. Just as parts of the audience were overwhelmed by the wave of concentrated, somewhat esoteric urban music burning towards them from the stage, Kamasi Washington and his seven-man touring team must have wondered quite how on earth they had landed up in this barn in the middle of rural nowhere in Europe. And yet everyone seemed to take it in good part, and soon it turned into fun, and what resulted was a powerful, two-hour-long festival finale. Nevertheless, this concert did also highlight some of the limitations of Inntoene, not just the technical demands of putting on large-scale shows, and it also opened up the question as to whether there is a real compatibility between personal taste and the unusual setting in which it is to be experienced.

Kamasi Washington at Inntoene 2018
Photo credit and © Ralf Dombrowski

And that is because of the artistic brain which shapes the programming, that of trombonist, culture manager and organic farmer Paul Zauner. He clears out the Buchmannhof farm in Diersbach once a year with the help of an army of volunteers from the Innviertel region, and presents an assortment of acts which is both intuitive and eclectic. Once again this year the barn stage hosted projects representing a sound – and also a point and a message to convey – that is as young and as creative as they come, and in some cases political. Bands such as Sons Of Kemet, whose stance overtly challenges the monopoly on creativity held by the old guard, sets itself against political structures based on racism, and proceeds to blow away both with its mixture of an energy release and a multi-ethnic mixed bag of styles.

Chris Sholar from Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence
Photo credit and © Ralf Dombrowski

Or there are projects like “Transcendence” from drummer Jaimeo Brown, who cloaks his improvisations on Black Music with video projections portraying symbols of the beauty of nature and a context of spiritualism. There was the jazz of the old (ex-avant-garde) school à la David Murray or Bobby Watson, which was referencing the America of the Afro-American fathers. And then again there were European anthems of complexity such as the music of saxophonist Anna Lena Schnabel in which she juggles in a self-referential way her own cosmos of abstraction. And then there were the bands with effective communicators such as the powerfully grooving trio of saxophonist Soweto Kinch, or the classical modernism of saxophonist Julian Siegel.

Julian Siegel and Gene Calderazzo
Photo credit and © Ralf Dombrowski

Chanda Rule at Inntoene 2018
Photo credit and © Ralf Dombrowski

Voices are important to Paul Zauner as well. This time he presented the young singer and songwriter Alexis Morrast, who – at the age of 16 – already has more chutzpah than many a long-serving star. Or the soulful and swinging Chanda Rule from Chicago, a highly experienced performer whose savvy, glamour and radiance brightened up even the darkest recesses of the barn’s hay-loft.

Florian Weber (L) and Anna Lena Schnabel at Inntoene 2018
Photo credit and © Ralf Dombrowski

All these acts fitted more or less perfectly into the distinctive homespun ambiance of this unusual festival. Except for Kamasi Washington, who seemed to have landed in the Sauwald from a distant star. His system of spiritual pathos and instrumental ecstasy, far removed from traditional jazz discourse, has its roots more in hip hop and urban Black Music than in jazz and is actually a music for big-city-nerds who like to indulge themselves with a little intellectual escapism. However, he and his musicians understood this asymmetry of the worlds of imagination between Diersbach and Los Angeles, so what they did was to embark on a power concert celebrating the energy aspect of music above all, and using familiar material.

Inntoene is such a down-to-earth festival. Its audience is open to everything, but has definite leanings towards the agrarian-bohemian, and doesn’t care that much for big-city attitude. Washington & Co were able to adapt to this, and therefore it was a brilliant finale –  even if it did show two worlds colliding with each other.

The “agrarian-bohemian” at Inntoene 2018
Photo credit and © Ralf Dombrowski

(*) Ralf Dombrowski’s original German text in the Jazzzeitung

Categories: Live reviews

3 replies »

  1. It was pleasing that the programme this year had three groups from UK – Sons of Kemet, Soweto Kinch and Julian Siegel Quartet – all of whom fitted into a programme that was exceptionally strong on saxophonists. Indeed you could also get to hear Bobby Watson, David Murray, Kamasi Washington, German Echo prizewinner Anna Lena Schnabel. Singer Alexis Morrast was a real find. Sassy, charismatic and still only 16. Meanwhile, this year the pianists as sidemen were stunning – Kirk Lightsey with Chanda Rule (another singer to listen out for), Florian Weber with Schnabel, Liam Noble with Siegel (of course), Kryzstof Kobylinski with Erik Truffaz, and Lafayette Gilchrist with David Murray. This year the whole festival was really spot on, in that the weather was just right to enjoy both the music, the food and the ambiance.

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