Alison Bentley is looking forward to going back to Suedtirol/Alto Adige….
“Jazz keeps the continent together,” says this year’s festival, with modern jazz and improvised music from all over Europe. In each of the last 10 festivals, a country or group of countries has been featured. This year, to celebrate their 40th anniversary, they bring together highlights, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, UK, Austria, Italy, Benelux, Scandinavia, Iberia and regions along the Danube. 42 of the 56 gigs are in or near the beautiful old town of Bolzano/Bozen, which has stunning mountain views from every street. (Suedtirol is in Italy, but all names are in both German and Italian.)
The festival is always loyal to its musicians, and on 24 June the opening “Europa” concert in Bolzano/Bozen’s Parco Cappuccini/Kapuzinerpark involves those who’ve been featured previously. For a flavour: the UK’s Soweto Kinch and bassist Ruth Goller (well-known in the UK but here representing Italy, as she comes from Suedtirol); improvising French singer Leïla Martial; Dutch guitarist Reinier Baas; Slovenian vocalist/percussionist Kristijan Krajncan; Italian resident, US saxophonist Dan Kinzelman; Austrian drummer Judith Schwarz, and Finnish saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen.
The park is the “base camp” for other gigs featuring these musicians in other formations; on 25 June the UK pianist Dan Nicholls and Irish singer Lauren Kinsella join Reinier Baas in Killing Popes; on 26 June you can hear Leïla Martial duet with Swiss singer Andreas Schaerer.
The festival likes to introduce talented newcomers to experienced musicians, and on 27 June, young British drummer Jas Kayser is in duo with Soweto Kinch. On 28 June, Kristijan Krajncan and 28-year-old Slovenian singer Ana Čop “create a mesmerizing combination of drums, voice, cello and effects.”
The series of late night concerts in Bolzano’s Batzen Sudwerk/Ca’ de Bezzi takes place in an atmospheric cellar. It starts with the Italian duo of pianist Simone Graziano and dancer Claudia Caldarano (“Embracing: Piano Solo Corpo Solo”) and finishes with Reinier Baas in The Return of The Enormous Wizard Zendor, a mysterious “sound cocktail.”
From museum tours to jazz hikes in the Dolomite Mountains, the festival always matches gigs to venues with imagination and tremendous organisation. On 2 July, five duos accompany a tour of Dietenheim/Teodone’s Folklore Museum. On 3 July French Qt SARAB (acoustic) bring their Arabic influences to the LUMEN Museum of Mountain Photography, Kronplatz/Plan de Corones.
From 27-29 June, the talented and highly entertaining trumpeter Matthias Schriefl and tuba-player Johannes Bär lead jazz hikes with two overnight stays, three open-air concerts and a plethora of instruments. On 30 June, Kinch performs his White Juju, “on the history of the Anglo-African community in England, the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic” at a secret location in Bressanone/Brixen.
It’s a wonderful festival, with a very welcoming atmosphere thanks to all the helpful people around to get you where you need to be, either by shuttle bus, public transport or on foot. There are intriguing places to buy food and sample the delicious local wines. Don’t just take my word for it, have a look at the website and go and experience the festival for yourself.
LINK: Festival website