Live reviews

REVIEW: Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2018 (3)

 Immediate Music
Photo credit and ©: Mick Destino

Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2018 
(Bolzano and Castelrotto. 4 July 2018.  Review Part 3 by Alison Bentley)

Immediate Music- NOI Techpark Südtirol / Alto Adige – Bolzano / Bozen
Stefan Pasborg- NOI Techpark Südtirol / Alto Adige – Bolzano / Bozen
Natalie Sandtorv & Eirik Havnes- Batzen Sudwerk Ca’de Bezzi – Bozen / Bolzano
Maria Faust Sacrum Facere- Stone Cave Lieg – Kastelruth / Castelrotto

This is Alison’s third report from Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2018 

The Festival likes to put on gigs in new buildings as well as old. Down the mirrored steps, in the black-painted basement in the shining new NOI Techpark building- were Finnish trio Immediate Music. Each year the Festival focuses on musicians from particular countries- this year, it’s the ‘Nordic connection.’ ‘Let’s jump into the stream and see where it takes us,’ said drummer Olavi Louhivuori. It took us through electronic whoops and whorls from Teemu Korpipää’s table of electronic wizardry, Pekko Käppi’s jouhikkos (bowed lyres) adrift in a storm of electronica. His jouhikkos played exquisite laments, with folk inflections. One was painted with a white skull; the other with a pentagram, and the heavy metal references were not only visual: Käppi’s vocalisations even recalled Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan at times.

Pekko Käppi’of Immediate Music
Photo credit and ©: Mick Destino

The volume increased as acoustic sounds became electrified, in an exciting rush of sound- music can be disturbing as well as consoling. But the detail, especially in Louhivuori’s fine drumming, was often lost in the over-loud amplification. Ötzi the prehistoric Iceman was once preserved in mountains close by, and now rests in a Bolzano museum. If he came back to life, I think this is the music he would be playing.

Stefan Pasborg
Photo by Alison Bentley

At the top of the building was a huge glass atrium. The impersonal space was transformed by Danish solo drummer Stefan Pasborg, who seemed merged with his drum kit. Perhaps Antonio Sánchez’ solo drum score to the film Birdman has allowed us to hear the kit in a new way. The glass made a perfect sound chamber, and Pasborg’s textures resonated round the room like reflections. The different drum timbres began to sound like melody, especially when Pasborg used elbow on tom to vary the tone. Metal bars played on the floor were like a gamelan; the volume increased; mallets shimmered on cymbals in an enthralling performance.

Natalie Sandtorv & Eirik Havnes
Photo by Alison Bentley

Back down to another basement: in the subterranean Batzen Sudwerk Ca’de Bezzi were Norwegians Natalie Sandtorv and Eirik Havnes, a vocal and guitar unlike any I’d heard before. Havnes, surrounded by a magic circle of pedals, created enchanting soundscapes around the voice. Sometimes played with a bow or metal bar, his sweeping sounds, clicks and crackles were like drops in a fantasy forest. Sandtorv’s vocals, dripping with reverb, could have been in Tolkien’s Elvish, with Bjork-esque cries. She drew on free vocal jazz, sometimes reminiscent of Maggie Nicols. Her voice could be as gauzy as her dress, then unnervingly powerful.

In a quarry: Maria Faust’s Sacrum Facere
Photo by Alison Bentley 

High up a mountain, in a quarry of rosy porphyry stone, surrounded by mountains and trees, was a perfect setting for Maria Faust’s compositions. Practical questions (like, how did they get a grand piano up a mountain?) faded as her music unfolded. Faust comes from Estonia, but studied music in Denmark, and made it her home. Her music is inspired by Estonian folk culture, and Kristi Mühling’s kannel (a kind of zither) brought an otherworldly quality to the ensemble.

‘All my songs are about women,’ she’s said, and Epp and Tui were Estonian girls’ names. Some minimalist classical influences, (John Adams?) some luscious orchestration, with sometimes jumpy time signatures- tuba (Swedish Olof Jonatan Ahlbom) and sax (American Edward Deane Ferm) in delicious harmony. A superb solo from Swedish trumpeter Nils Tobias Wiklund recalled Christian Scott in its ferocious energy. In the hymn-like Lydia, Italian Emanuele Maniscalco’s free piano solo hooked beautifully into the rhythms of the melody. It was if he was quarrying the notes from the crags above the stage. Sparrow Song, about birds in the streets where Faust grew up, was as syncopated as bird movements. Contrapuntal clarinet (Italian Francesco Bigoni,) bass clarinet (Danish Anders Banke,) trumpet and tuba lines jumped around like- sparrows. ‘My album is about destinies of women and on how women have been sacrificed in history – and this is still the case today,’ Faust has written. Her compositions were at times serious and delicate, but also strong and full of life and the energy of free jazz.

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