Live reviews

Jazzdor Budapest 2023

Jazzdor Budapest

(Budapest Music Center. 22 to 25 March 2023. Festival report by Tony Dudley-Evans)

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Sanne Rambags / Vincent Courtois/ Julius Sartorius. Photo credit Balint Hrotko / BMC

Jazzdor Budapest 2023 is a collaboration between Jazzdor Strasbourg, one of  Europe’s top jazz festivals with over 30 years of programming, and the Budapest Music Center (BMC), an impressive music centre that is celebrating its tenth anniversary and the presentation of over 2000 concerts in the areas of jazz and classical music. 

This was the first Jazzdor Budapest festival and is part of a planned three year programme. The festival took place in the attractive Opus Club, BMC’s jazz club.  The impressive centre also has a large venue and a number of recording studios, all seemingly with excellent acoustics .  Its extensive catalogue of Cds covers a wide range of European jazz. 

Two trios featuring a vocalist were particular highlights.  The opening set of the festival presented Dutch singer Sanne Rambags with Vincent Courtois on cello and Julius Sartorius on drums, a Dutch/ French / Swiss collaboration. Rambags, who has toured the UK with the Under The Surface trio, performed powerful vocals in English and Old Dutch, plus wordless pieces, and has a strong and engaging stage presence. The trio is, however, one of equals with inventive solos from Courtois and great interaction between Sartorius and the other two members of the trio.

The Ann O’Aro Trio, from Reunion, the French territory in the Indian Ocean, has O’Aro on vocals, Teddy Doris on trombone and Bino Waro on percussion.  O’Aro’s vocals are mostly sung in Creole, and are therefore incomprehensible, even to native French speakers, but their strength and drama as she sings of issues of violence against women, and abuse from her own father do nonetheless come across powerfully.  Doris’ straightforward solos on trombone fit the vocals extremely well, and Waro’s percussion adds a basic pulse.  In many ways, the music is quite simple, but at the same time it has a complexity coming out of the situations it describes.

Ann O’Aro. Photo credit Balint Hrotko / BMC

To describe these two sets as highlights is not to deny the excellence of many of the other sets.  Sylvain Rifflet’s Aux Anges quartet presented their latest project that brings together strong, repetitive melodic lines mixed in with drones from a kind of harmonium, and inventive rhythms from percussionist Benjamin Flament and guitarist Palotai Csaba.  The result is one of the most successful attempts to bring together jazz energy with the melodic repetition of minimalism that I have heard.

Hans Lüdemann’s Transeuropeexpress has a new project arising from a residency of Lüdemann’s in Rome where he often met up and played with Italian accordionist Luciano Biondini.  Accordingly, the evening began with an attractive duo set from the pair, before presenting a new set of music for the full octet, also arising from the residency.  This main set came to life with a powerful extended solo from alto saxophonist Silke Ebehard followed by a fine solo from Yves Robert on tromboneA composition by saxophonist Alexandra Grimal called “Ashura”, inspired by a Buddhist figure in a Japanese temple, featured solos by most members of the octet, each one accompanied by Dejan Terzic on specific large or small gongs, or small percussion instruments.  This brought out very effectively the distinctive character of each soloist.

O.U.R.S is a French group led by violinist Clément Janinet; their name stands for Ornette Under A Repetitive Sky (and also a play on the French word for a bear), and their set was infused with the spirit of Ornette Coleman’s music .   They and also Lüdemann’s Transeuropeexpress have recorded albums for the BMC label, and the collaboration between Jazzdor Strasbourg and the Budapest Music Center was, for this first edition of the festival at least, with European groups that have recorded for the BMC label rather than with Hungarian bands. 

The one Hungarian band that did appear was the Gábor Gadó – Harcsa Veronika Sextet; they performed a rather mystifying set that moved between rather dry classical compositions from Gábor which included operatic singing from Harcsa, and into some high energy free improvisation.  For me, the transitions between the two were difficult to take in and to appreciate.

Sylvain Rifflet (centre) with Yoann Loustalot (L) and Csaba Lajos Palotai (R). Photo credit: Balint Hrotko / BMC

Tony Dudley-Evans was the guest of Jazzdor

LINK: Jazzdor Budapest full details


Categories: Live reviews, Reviews

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