Leo Genovese Trio and guests
(Passau Jazz Festival at Cafe Museum, 25 July 2023. Review by Oliver Weindling)
Starting immediately after Inntöne finishes, the local energy moves along the road to Passau for its own summer jazz festival running through to the end of August.
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The opener could hardly have been of a higher profile. With Leo Genovese, who won the Grammy for best solo last year on the final album with Wayne Shorter (Live in Detroit). But he’s a diverse pianist, having played with Christine Tobin and Phil Robson when they were in New York, and I have also heard him with guitarist Leni Stern and in duo with trumpeter Franz Hackl.
For this gig, he started with his own trio of Italian bassist Francesco Marcocci and Macedonian drummer Aleksandar Petrov, a trio which hadn’t really played so much since the launch of their album five years ago. A band out of New York but with cosmopolitan roots, which we could gather from the show, especially when Petrov started playing tapan, a traditional frame bass drum. It was a powerful set together, which ranged far and wide. Genovese has the ability to lead us on an amazing journey of virtuoso runs balanced against bluesy sophistication. It gave a strong foundation, which allowed the other instrumentalists to show their personalities. And they played tunes which even brought together styles from Genovese’s Argentinian heritage and a Balkan twist, such ‘Macedonsko’. Nothing predictable on this wild journey, but nothing out of place.
Meanwhile, for the second set, they were joined to create ‘The Anonymous Quintet’, since the previously unannounced additional musicians, Heinrich von Kalnein on tenor and soprano saxes, and Winfried Hackl on recorders. They showed that the gap between today’s jazz attitude and the music of the renaissance is infinitesimal. Musicians who have bridged this divide are not a new phenomenon – think of bassist Barry Guy – but these days there do seem to be quite a few more: Michel Godard, whom I had heard in Garana, Fred Thomas…and then there is Tom Ridout always has played at least one piece on recorder every time that I have heard him.
They didn’t just play renaissance music though, and included newer pieces by von Kalnein and Genovese, with the recorder changing the timbre from a usual jazz formation. The repertoire ranged from a saltarello through to originals by von Kalnein, who himself is one of the denizens of the Austrian scene, having had a special feature at as leader of one of the “Commissioned Works” headliners at jazzahead! this year.
This was a great chance to experience one of the best pianists out of New York on the red Steinway of the intimate setting of Cafe Museum. It is not just three major European rivers but also a multiplicity of musical currents which converge in Passau.