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Live Reviews

Suoni per il Popolo Festival 2007, Montreal

By Published: August 11, 2007
In comparison, the Sten Sandell Trio was less radical sound-wise and remained closer to the tradition of European free improvisation. Yet, the 65-minute set performed by pianist Sandell, contrabassist Johan Berthling and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love was a constant amazement. All musicians shone throughout. Nilssen-Love, especially, was at his most convincing. By not requiring a full-blown assault, the trio's attention to dynamics allowed him to be loud and active at times but also restrained and sparse at others. His work with small cymbals was a nice complement to Sandell's piano. Still, apart from such individual contributions, the trio as a whole really stood out for the flow of ideas, integrated in that cohesive and imaginative way characteristic of a great band on a great night.

In a totally different register, The Ex' two concerts were also highlights of the festival. Now a quartet, The Ex played an 80-minute concert that included new songs, three from 2004's Turn and two classics originally recorded with the late Tom Cora: "Hidegen fújnak a szelek and "State of Shock." These two concerts proved once again that The Ex is one of the best live acts around. Seeing them on the small stage of La Sala Rossa had to be nothing less than magical for the feverish, responsive 200-something crowd.

It goes without saying that a few concerts were less conclusively successful. However, these were too few to taint the positive impression one got from attending Suoni per il Popolo. Indeed, the 2007 edition was definitely the best yet as well as one of the most satisfying events presented in this city in recent years. The dates of the 2008 Suoni per il Popolo should be circled on the calendar of music aficionados—if only to to serve as a reminder of an event not to be missed.

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