(The Ark, Dublin. 11 and 12 December 2019. Report by Tony Dudley-Evans and Oliver Weindling)
The Jazz Connective is a year-long, EU-funded project which brings together promoters and musicians from seven cities in six European countries and runs conferences and showcases each of the seven participating cities.(More detail in LJN’s launch report). So far these have taken place in Ljubljana in Slovenia, Łodz in Poland, Helsinki in Finland. To come are events in Birmingham, London (March 2020) and Lyon (June 2020).
Shane Latimer, Linda Frederiksson and Steve Davis. iPhone snap by Oliver Weindling
Each event combines a number of seminars with an evolving discussion on current issues in jazz more from a venue perspective and showcases for artists and bands from the countries participating in the project. The seminars in Dublin were particularly stimulating with a focus on the effectiveness of different types of venue and a vibrant discussion involving promoters and musicians from all parts of Ireland on the ingredients of a successful jazz scene. As ever, there were different opinions about the merits of a jazz club venue as compared with a more formal multi-purpose concert hall or alternative spaces such as galleries or churches. A special atmosphere could come at quite a high financial cost. There was general consensus that any jazz scene needs its own home, that is a venue where the jazz community can have a hub, perhaps owned and run by a coordinating body representing the scene in that city or country.
There was also a focus on the role of jazz in projects for young children and a visit to the very impressive venue The Ark, Dublin’s Childrens’ Cultural Centre where we witnessed a performance by String Play, with musicians performing for a group of children between the ages of 5 and 12. It was fascinating and encouraging to see the very positive reaction of the children to a show that included a strong element of improvisation.
The showcase programme highlighted the Irish, British and Finnish scenes. One strong impression is that the Irish scene, though small in terms of numbers of participants, is very creative. On the first evening pianist Izumi played with violinist Cora Venus in a stimulating and charming improvised music set, and Shane Latimer on guitar and electronics played in duo with drummer Steve Davis. This latter duo perhaps failed to reach any heights, but on the second day the two collaborated with saxophonist Linda Frederiksson from the Finnish Mopo band in what was for us the highlight of the concert programme. Steve Davis’ subtle rhythmic drumming pushed both Frederiksson and Latimer into long fluent lines of improvisation. Let’s hope that this success will lead to further collaboration between the three of them. Mopo’s own set with Frederiksson on alto and baritone sax, Eero Tikkanen on bass and Eeti Nieminen on drums was dynamic and lingering. Compared to one hearing several years ago, their music has strengthened, and become tighter and somehow grittier.
Vula Viel. iPhone snap by Oliver Weindling
The UK contingent featured solo sets from Laura Jurd on trumpet and Elliot Galvin on piano. This was the first outing for Laura as a solo artist and it was full of dramatic and unique passages, but occasionally lacked coherence and a smooth transition from one idea to the next. The need to adjust the pedals interrupted the flow of the music. Elliot, on the other hand, has had plenty of experience as a solo performer and played a set that moved seamlessly through a range of creative ideas, presented in a series of short pieces. The showcase concluded with Vula Viel, led by Bex Burch on the gyil, a West African xylophone, and featuring Jim Hart on drums and Tom Herbert, depping for Ruth Goller, on bass. The trio created an exciting mix of percussive minimalism and jazz.
Tony Dudley-Evans/Jazzlines and Oliver Weindling/Vortex are participants in the Jazz Connective project.LINK:Jazz Connective website