Live reviews

Suedtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige 2022 (Italy) – Part 2

Suedtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige 2022

(Festival Round-Up and iPhone snaps by Alison Bentley – Part 2 of 2)

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Honey Sparks in the Dark

This festival excels in matching gigs with venues- it’s all part of the experience. In the open air amphitheatre at Bozen/Bolzano’s Parco Semirurali, it’s difficult to compete with the overwhelming mountain backdrop. In Honey Sparks in the Dark, (Jun 27) multi-instrumentalist Kristijan Krajncan led a Slovenian quartet playing for a group of four dancers- it was the perfect setting for them. He began on drums with Tomaž Gajšt (trumpet/flugel,) Boštjan Simon (sax) and Robert Jukic (bass.) They took their cue from Rilke: “We are bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hives of the invisible.”

The dancers unfolded one muscle at a time to sax/trumpet obbligato with slow Butoh-like movements. As the groove built, they grouped Pina Bausch-style; some dancers peeled away as the sax soloed. Some Eastern European rhythms were mixed in with the jazz and they could have been folk dancing at a wedding. Sometimes the band seemed to incorporate more traditional jazz and the dancing was more like mime, acting out a laughing trumpet solo. Krajncan moved to cello with equal brilliance as the dancers interpreted a pantheistic poem, before balancing precariously on rocks.(Dancers: Žigan Krajncan; Katja Legin; Bor Prokofjev; Kristyna Šajtošova)

Ville Lähteenmäki Trio

The Ville Lähteenmäki Trio (Jun 28) from north Norway had a big sound well suited to the raised stage in the Parco Cappuccini. Nicolas Leirtrø’s muscly bass reminded me of Petter Eldh, and Ville Lähteenmäki’s bass clarinet had a Pharoah Sanders-ish rasp and multiphonic squeals. Trym Saugstad Karlsen’s drums were full and free with subtle polyrhythms. As Lähteenmäki moved to flute, the sweet bluesy sound recalled Charles Lloyd- and the way the music moved between free jazz and folk elements, contrasting deep bass and fragile percussion. Albert Ayler’s Ghosts concluded, a little raunchiness in the clarinet sound over fast walking bass.

Matthias Schriefl, Johannes Bär

The festival was offering two mountain hikes with multi-instrumentalists Matthias Schriefl (Germany) and Johannes Bär, (Austria) where the duo would perform concerts in mountain refuges. The faint-hearted (or faint-footed) were offered an easier option: the duo played while leading us through the streets of Bolzano to the Filmclub. (Jun 29) From comfortable seats we could watch “Auf Tour – Z’Fuaß”, a feature-length film following Schriefl and Bär on their stunning 2020 concert tour- walking 200km in the Vorarlberg, Tyrolean and Allgäu Alps. They’re both virtuosic musicians with a huge sense of fun and the surreal, bringing traditional brass music together with anarchic jazz. We saw them doing gigs in mountain lodges, village squares and mountain tops, playing trumpet, tuba, accordion, alpenhorns and many more- all carried on the journey


, Baas-Diodati-Koenig-Rehmer

In the dark, intimate cellar at Batzen Sudwerk Ca’ de Bezzi , Baas-Diodati-Koenig-Rehmer (Jun 28) was a quartet formed specially for the festival by Italian guitarist Francesco Diodati. Austrian Lukas König’s drumming with mallets made the rivets in the cymbal sound like rain. Diodati’s ringing harmonics echoed thoughtfully as if every note counted. A restless groove built up- a rock out moment with König incorporating drum and bass into the history of jazz drumming. Guitarist Reinier Baas’ incredibly fast runs and flurries of notes had a jittery euphoria. US bassist Joe Rehmer played sensitive arco bass as Diodati played bottleneck blues. They brought together jazz and rock into free improvisation with a sense of restrained power.


Another band featuring Diodati was Italian quartet TellKujira, (Jun 30) which means “whale.” In the sun-dappled garden of Bolzano’s Palais Toggenburg, it was easy to imagine we were underwater, with trees growing up from the sea bed, and whale cries mixing with birdsong. With Diodati and Stefano Calderano on guitars, Francesco Guerri on cello and Ambra Chiara Michelangeli on violin, the instruments were blended together with electronic effects and a yearning beauty. Eastern scales and gentle patterns coalesced, till rhythmic urgency and siren sounds intruded with a slight sense of danger.Te

It was a festival of imaginative programming in wonderful venues.

LINK: Suedtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige website

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