North Sea Jazz Festival Ahoy Rotterdam, The Netherlands July 6-8, 2012
The city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands seems ideal for a jazz festival. It's a large enough metropolis to hold things of interest for any touristarts, culture, architecture, fine eateries, interesting activitieswhile at the same time being friendly, laidback and manageable. Toss the mammoth North Sea Jazz Festival into the mix and you really have something.
It's also an easy hop to Amsterdam via train for vacationers. So what's to stop jazz fans from getting there, even if they have to cross the Atlantic? Thirteen venues within the awesome Ahoy venuemost of them indoorsand performers in 2012 that included saxophonist Joshua Redman
The answer to the question posed earlier is: nothing really should stop jazz fans who can combine vacation with one of the world's best jazz festivals. No venue-hopping. One ticket gets access to all the stages inside Ahoy. It's impossible to see everything a person would want to see, but attendees can still grab a plentiful taste of some of the best musicians on the planet, and discover many new performers to boot.
Running down the proceedings at North Sea Jazz is a task. Friday and Saturday each featured 49 sets of music, and that didn't count a DJ stage and a room where artists were either interviewed before a live crowd or gave clinic sessions. Sunday, which ended earlier, "trimmed" down to 47 sets.
But with all the running around, sets by James Farm
dubbed Miles Smiles, stood above a tremendous amount of fine music.
James Farm is one of the great bands on the circuit and was absolutely on fire. Joshua Redman was a man possessed, lighting up fiery, inventive and soulful solos on tunes like "Coax," written by the band's fine bassist Matt Penman
playing delicate arrangements during which one of them would solo. The entire lot showed that Redman is truly one of the finest saxophonists out there, as well as a noted composer, and deserves even more credit than he already gets.
Christian Scott's group has been working a long time and shows that kind of familiarity where they know how to take chances together. The music was intense, with the extremely underrated Kristopher Funn playing bass like it was his last day on earth, and drummer Jamire Williams
was so steady and fit so well; he made his stirring solos seem easy.
And Scott knocked it out of the park, with his bold playing and great sound. He was always motivated and reaching. His compositions, often inspired by unpleasant events in the U.S., were strong foundations for these young players to build inspired moments.