Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2009
Percussionist wizard Marilyn Mazur and her Celestial Circle of John Taylor (piano), Anders Jormin (bass) and Josefine Cronholm (vocal) completed the trilogy of concerts held at Det Kongelige Bibliotek. Taylor is perhaps one of the most underrated pianists of our time and his complex harmonies graced the hypnotic chant of Cronholm and the strange sounds generated from Mazur's many instruments. An almost otherworldly sphere of sound arose that perfectly matched the name of the project with the music moving in celestial circles.
If the concerts at The Black Diamond gave an impression of jazz as high art mostly suited to quiet concert halls, the concerts held at the venues Jazzkælderen (The Jazz Cellar), LitteraturHaus, Råhuset, Borups Højskole and M/S Staubnitz showed jazz in all its wildly eclectic, youthful splendor.
Bassist Thommy Anderson performing at Jazzkælderen.
Jazzkælderen hosted one of the most interesting new labels in Danish jazz: Barefoot Records. Like its more famous big brother, ILK, it is a collective of young Scandinavian musicians, who make music across generic boundaries. Some of the mainstays of the label are bassist Adam Pultz Melbye and drummer Haakon Berre, who have just released a mind-blowing album with free jazz legend Peter Brötzmann entitled A Tale of Three Cities (Barefoot Records, 2009). The concerts at the venue showcased a variety of the label's many talented musicians in different constellations, including pianist Morten Pedersen, bassist Thommy Anderson and saxophonist Maria Faust. It must be said that some of the music, with its frequent mixture of abstract electronics and free excursions, isn't easy listeningit wasn't a coincidence that at one point, a child started crying, and another one shielded his ears, but, nevertheless, most of the time the acts managed to get the approval of an audience, who was open to musical challenges.
The Venue M/S Staubnitz as seen from the outside.
During the festival, M/S Staubnitz was both literally and figuratively a flagship for the new Danish avant-garde. Performing at the old ship was a Who's Who of the Danish underground. Everyone from Kresten Osgood to members of the experimental label collective yoyooyoy was present. Yoyooyoy is also a label whose impossible name alone seems to suggest that they don't care much about the commercial distribution of artand rightly so.
The concert, with some of the most prominent members of the collective, saxophonist Johannes Lunds and trombonist Marie Bertel, who work together under the moniker Gud Er Kvinde (God Is A Woman), assaulted the senses with an extreme wall of sound. The noise of the brass instruments occasionally became further enhanced by a row of guitar and bass pedals, creating a massive carpet of noise and feedback, throwing the audience into a state between fascination, joy and terror. Mix the wails of Peter Brötzmann and Albert Ayler into a giant bowl of industrial noise reminiscent of Sonic Youth at their most extreme and an idea begins to emerge of the sound of this radical duo, but the music is best sampled at the label yoyooyoy's website.
Blowing everything to pieces. Johannes Lunds and Marie Bertel of Gud Er Kvinde.
Inevitably a project like Gud Er Kvinde will divide the waters. Fortunately, a lot of the bands present at the M/S Staubnitz, in spite of their experimental nature, were more accessible. Thus, one could encounter, among many other things, the consistently beautiful music of guitarist Jakob Bro's trio with drummer Jacob Høyer and bassist Anders Christensen, jazzy post-rock from Grammofunch and the atmospheric electro-jazz of Emil de Waal and Spejderrobot. The main attraction, however, was a marathon concert with multitalented drummer Kresten Osgood's project Hvad Er Klokken? who made their concert into a veritable feast. Encompassing everything from free jazz and rock to the funky soul-jazz of Stanley Turrentine, the band invited the audience on stage to participate in the concert. One of the climaxes of the concert was a totally spaced out version of the Danish national anthem and this, in a way, underscored the nature of the music of Osgood and his friendsit's both accessible and experimental, bodily and intellectual, national and transnational, playful and seriousin short, impossible to pinpoint.
It could be easy to forget the other avant-garde venues with so many exciting things taking place at M/S Staubnitz, but especially LitteraturHaus, where the Danish experimental guitarist Mark Solborg premiered new material with the trumpeter, Herb Robertson, and Råhuset provided good alternatives for the curious mind.