Festival Da Jazz: St Moritz 2013

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Special mention must go to Groovin' j5, the band which played on the Saturday and Sunday nights. Strictly speaking this was the Groovin' j4, as the trumpet player was unable to make the gigs. The band had a winning formula—hard bop and groove jazz from the '50s and '60s played with skill, conviction and a real feel for the vibe of the music. Dave Freusi proved to be a engaging front man as well as a tenor saxophonist with excellent dynamic and tonal range and a fine beard.

Groovin' j5's Saturday night performance, with tunes like Bobby Timmons
Bobby Timmons
Bobby Timmons
1935 - 1974
piano
' "Moanin,'" Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
's "The Kicker" and a storming take on Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
1938 - 1972
trumpet
's "Sidewinder," was almost an "All Star" set of classic tunes. It got almost the entire contingent of visiting journalists on their feet, throwing some shapes and generally grooving well into the early hours.

The band was augmented for its second Sunday night set by Kennedy, Boyle and Stavi, fresh from their Dracula Club gig. Kennedy was as irrepressible as ever, joining in with Grooving' j5's set, improvising some fiery violin solos and encouraging his fellow players with shouts, cheers and, of course, much bumping of knuckles.


The Festival Da Jazz offered many of the same great musicians to be found at 2013 festivals the world over—after all, the jazz festival circuit is a busy time for musicians. There's a very distinct character about this event, however. The alpine scenery has to be some of the most dramatic in Europe and it forms a superb background. The Alps are also readily accessible from many points around the town and its outskirts—cable cars run all year. So alpine walking and mountain biking are on offer every day. This might just be the only jazz festival that gives fans a chance to leave physically fitter and healthier than they were when they arrived.

Most of all, a true Unique Selling Point, is the Dracula Club. At the end of a great evening of music, walking out of the club past the Count and his coffin, into the night air as wood fires burn, bats swoop and dart and the Alps loom large and mysterious, there's a real sense of somewhere rather magical. Just keep the silver bullets and the garlic handy.

Photo Credits

Page 2, Page 3 (Top): Matthias Heyde

All Other Photos: Bruce Lindsay.

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