Stockholm Jazz Festival 2010
The gloomy Friday weather did not deter a large crowd from enjoying every second of the elegant afternoon set by Erik Lindeborg Trio. The Stockholm-born pianist and composer drew upon his broad jazz repertoire for trio rather than his new large ensemble recording Time (Stockholm Jazz Records, 2010). Drummer Robert Ikiz told AAJ that he was so happy that Erik Lindeborg got the chance to play with his trio formation at the festival, saying "he really deserves it and he is no doubt one of the main future jazz musicians from this country. With his touch, feeling and great compositions, Europe and other parts of the world will be waiting for him soon, too!"
The second day of the festival also saw Courtney Pinebring a splash of color to the proceedings with a lively and entertaining hour of rootsy jazz. His energetic approach and lovable personality were ever-present and everyone seemed to enjoy his walk among the public during a solo. Things turned wonderfully mystical with the arrival of the Avishai Cohen Aurora project. The bassist has clearly progressed as a bandleader since his time with pianist Chick Corea, and he has forged a personal form of fusion, at once intriguing and exciting. The Aurora sound was one of folkloric Moorish elements overlaid with Ladino-style Spanish, Hebrew and English lyrics; going on the enthusiastic crowd reaction it didn't disappoint. The Nils Landgren Funk Unit is the stuff of festival legend in Scandinavia, and a huge crowd turned out to see the famed trombone player strut his stuff. While spared recitals of his recent album of funky versions from the ABBA catalogue, festival goers were treated to the presence of funk royalty in the shape of trombonist Fred Wesley. With a two-trombone frontline, the NLFU carried the party along with renditions of classic tunes by saxophonist Maceo Parker and some originals.
When guitarist John Scofield strolled out on stage on Saturday, June 11dressed in an unremarkable shirt and a rather large jackethe could have easily been mistaken for an old university professor. Judging from the welcome he got from the crowd ("the students," if you will), they wanted to thank him dearly for the inspiration he'd been so eager to pass on to them. It could also be said that this tour finds the now grey-bearded veteran on a special teaching mission.
The ensemble Scofield was presenting was called The Piety Street Band, named after the street in New Orleans where the guitarist recorded Piety Street (EmArcy, 2009). With the help of this great backing trioamong them, legendary bassist George Porter Jr.the jazz-fusion master seemed determined to display his roots. Any skepticism there might have been about this project (we don't want our blues to sound academic do we?) was quickly swept away.
The professor has just the right amount of nuttiness to pull it off, approaching each solo with a passion that made it clear that school was out and a more spiritual place was in. The band played rocking versions of old gospel and blues tunes like "Let the Good Times Roll" and "Walk With Me," and even Hank Williams' "Angel of Death."
Plugged into an old Vox amplifier, Scofield's tone was fierce and clean, far from the chorus-drenched overdrive of his fusion heyday. The only disturbing thing was the amount of time he spent fooling around with a delay/loop machine.
There is something very admirable about the respect and curiosity Scofield still feels for the broad musical heritage of his country. In a particularly magic moment when the band suddenly jumped into Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," it seemed as though Scofield was not a favorite professor after all, but a guitar-playing reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln.
The early-evening headlining set by the Wayne Shorter Quartet was sober, to say the least. Reminiscent of the time when jazz took a deeply spiritual turn in the early '60s, the 90-minute appearance by this jazz legend was surprisingly introverted, and offered little to the eager festival crowd. None of the other musicians (pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci or drummer Brian Blade) were able to lift the mood, despite some creative soloing on what was essentially an introspective and somber moment that came just before that evening's festivities erupted, with the arrival of hip hop diva Missy Elliot.
[Editor's Note: Written in collaboration with Dan Hafstrom]
Visit Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin, Grace Kelly, Erik Lindborg, Courtney Pine, John Scofield and the Stockholm Jazz Festival on the web.
Page 1, Venue: Jessica Engstrom
Page 1, Bobo Stenson: James Pearse
Page 1, Grace Kelly: Dan Hafstron
Page 2, Courtney Pine: Jessica Engstrom
Page 2, John Scofield: Dan Hafstrom
Page 2, Wayne Shorter: Dan Hafstrom