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REVIEW: Camilla Susann Haug & Lars Andreas Haug Bands at the Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2018

Camilla Susann Haug and Lars Andreas Haug

Camilla Susann Haug & Lars Andreas Haug Bands
(Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2018. Review and photos by Alison Bentley)

Messing With Voice: Grifoncino Rooftop Lounge Bar – Bozen / Bolzano, 2 Jul
Lars Andreas Haug Band: Felturner Hütte/Rifugio Feltuner – Ritten/Renon, 3 Jul
Haug – Mathiesen – Schriefl NOI Techpark Südtirol / Alto Adige – Bolzano / Bozen 4 Jul

This is the first of Alison Bentley’s reports from the Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2018

It was standing room only in the sunny rooftop garden for a very unusual duo: voice and tuba. How would the high, ethereal voice and deep tuba work together? They’d been playing as a duo since 2004, Camilla Susann Haug told me later. “We studied together at the State Academy of Music in Oslo. Lars Andreas was studying jazz, but I studied classical. Then I started to experiment more with the rhythmic repertoire and it got more and more natural for us to work together. Now we bring in what we have from each other’s genres. We both like to write music, and we think we can actually play anything on these two instruments.”

The gig covered quite a range of genres, united by their arrangements and sheer musicality. They opened with their own song about a Norwegian staircase with thousands of steps, the voice rhythmic and beautifully accurate on precipitous intervals. Andreas sang into the mouthpiece, growling humorously – a whole band all by himself, sketching bass arpeggios. (Haug: “I’ve developed this really soft way of playing bass on tuba – it’s not so forced.”) One piece had fluttery tuba notes over a dark bass groove in 7, with a superbly complex vocal solo. Life is Too Short had the audience beginning to dance to the funky tuba lines. A number of strongly melodic covers were threaded through the set: in God Only Knows Camilla harmonised with two tuba notes at once; Lars Andreas sang backing vocals into the tuba mouthpiece in Wonder’s Come Back as a Flower; Woodstock was in funky double time with slap bass tuba, and Joel’s And So It Goes was sung by Camilla with delicate pathos. Camilla: “I try to just do what I feel. I don’t think: I’m a jazz singer so I have to do this; I’m a folk singer so I have to do this. I try to mix everything together.”

Lars Andreas Haug Band
The Festival always finds breathtaking venues to match the music. A dizzying cable car ride to the top of a mountain and a 30-minute walk led us to Lars Andreas Haug’s band, spread out on the grass. The Haugs were joined by six other musicians to play Lars Andreas’ compositions. The band has grown from a trio since its inception in 2005, adding trumpeter Gunnar Halle and drummer Knut Aalefjær – Lars Andreas has played with them since jazz summer camps in the 90s. The band had the relaxed feel that comes from working together for a long time. Some pieces were from their new album Conrairo, the title track featuring superb Serbian accordion player Jovan Pavlovic and restless, complicated lines. The harmonies used voice as one of the instruments. (Camilla: “I actually listen more to instrumental music than to singers.”) Sinrairo had a choral feel, while in January the drummer hit a ceramic cup, evoking dripping ice. The Balkan grooves of Sarplaniac were like dancing on hot coals – you never knew where they would land in the bar. The tuba rooted everything along with Steffen Schorn’s clarinet. (Lars Andreas: “It can look very hard on paper but hopefully it’s not so hard to listen to it!”) As thunder rolled round the mountains, Festival Director Klaus Widmann lamented the ‘high-risk’ weather,’ which cut the gig a little short. At 2046m the music felt as elemental as the rain.

The next day’s gig was in total contrast. Lars Andreas Haug with German trumpeter Matthias Schriefl and Danish drummer Kalle Mathiesen brought anarchy and fun to the shiny new tech park building in Bolzano. “When we do concerts like this,” Haug told me, “it’s about always having a balance, so there’s not going to be too much clowning, but also some serious stuff. I think the best way to [arrange that balance] is when you’re onstage. And to think like a composer and arranger when you’re there.” They introduced themselves in comic three-part vocal harmony with classic rock riffs. Mathiesen’s anarchy was very visual – he drummed on the audience’s chair legs, played a cymbal with a brush attached to a drill, and squealed with toy pigs. The audience laughed out loud. A quieter piece had Haug on sweet soprano, with Mathiesen on electric bass. In others, Schriefl was on alpenhorn droning in unison with tuba, riffing as if laughing at each other’s anecdotes. Later, Haug played an Armenian bass clarinet, bought on eBay because it looked interesting. He thought it was an old instrument, but the seller asked him: “Please be patient my friend – I have to make it first!” It was worth the wait, with its rich timbre, and what Haug called “gliding and sliding” notes. The trio marched round the audience, New Orleans style, then returned to massive applause to create a “rock song” from scratch, as Mathiesen drummed on his bare stomach: huge fun allied to serious musicianship.

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