Jazz Migration Showcase (YOU, NoSax No Clar, Kepler, Nefertiti)(La Dynamo, Pantin, 3 December 2019. Report by Oliver Weindling)
The Jazz Migration scheme, organised since 2002 by the French jazz promoter organisation AJC (previously AFIJMA), is not just a reward for 4 bands each year but also a mentoring and support programme lasting 2 years. The musicians therefore benefit from a vital support mechanism similar to the Northern Line scheme of Jazz North in the UK. The French members of AJC guarantee to book at least one of the bands over the next year, so giving all of them the chance to mature fast through playing live.
Another feature is that the selection process is such that bands can come from all members across France. So, for example, the bands at the 2019 showcase were recommended from Nantes and the Pyrenees as well as Paris. After initial nominations and creation of a shortlist, all AJC members have the chance to vote for their preferred options. Listening to the bands, one has to look forwards and at the potential of many of the groups. Still ‘work in progress’ in many ways. This is the beginning of their two-year journey as part of the Jazz Migration scheme.
Nefertiti at the Jazz Migration Showcase. Photo courtesy of AJC
This year’s cohort, though all very different in conception and influence, nevertheless shared a great awareness of how sounds balanced together.
YOU is a bassless trio of voice, guitar and drums
NoSax NoClar work mainly with just two clarinets or saxes
Kepler consists of piano/keyboards and two saxes
Nefertiti as the only line-up that would be fully expected in a jazz context – saxophone, piano, bass and drums.
Kepler took the most dramatic route away from the expected. Part of the Onze Heures Onze collective, they were thoughtful and ruminative. And it can be really conceptualised as ‘slow music’, drawing in the audience, though running the risk of slowing to a stop!
A complete contrast to the quartet of Nefertiti, which energetically played the compositions of pianist Delphine Deau. Sometimes perhaps overthoughtful, they played a carefully wrought set.
NoSax NoClar travelled the world of their instruments both technically and stylistically. Using extended techniques, circular breathing and multiphonics Julien Stella and Bastien Weege sometimes emulate the sounds that might be created by Evan Parker. They mesmerised in their musical dancing around each other. Meanwhile musical influences moved between North African, classical and jazz. As they play more in more diverse surroundings over the course of their period in Jazz Migration I am sure that they will warm audiences more and more.
YOU involved the singer Isabel Sörling, originally from Sweden and known in the UK for her work with Leafcutter John and, for me, the macabre Soil Collectors when they performed at Match and Fuse. She comes from a new generation of singers which include the likes of Lauren Kinsella and Sofia Jernberg who are constantly looking at ways of moving vocals onwards and outwards. In this group, she interplays imaginatively with the guitar of Guillaume Magne and drummer Heloïse Divilly. By the judicious work of drums and guitar, pure bass lines were never missed. And they frequently created soundscapes which lift one into another dimension
So, as ever, it was great to hear some of the new bands and musicians coming out of the French scene, and give a thought-provoking chance to assess how broadly the term ‘jazz’ should be considered.
Oliver Weindling was representing the Vortex at the Rencontres AJC. The Vortex is an external member of AJC.