Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2010
While the festival featured many established names, part of the fascination of attending a musical event like the one in Copenhagen is that it offers a singular opportunity to access the future voices of jazz, especially the many talented musicians emerging from the reputable Rhythmic Music Conservatory of Copenhagen (RMC). This year, a lot of the musical talent gathered around the venue Huset i Magstræde where it was possible to experience the lyrical post-bop musings of Lars Fiil Quartet, the bouncing world-rhythms of Girls in Airports and the wild punk-jazz of Magnus Fra Gaarden (Magnus from the Farm) who thrilled their audience by dressing up as animals and delivering a stellar stage-performance.
Two of the most pacesetting Danish jazz-labels, ILK and Barefoot Records, were also highly profiled at the festival. Barefoot Records held a series of concerts at the intimate music store Jazzkælderen. Here, the pianist Karen Bach and her trio premiered promising material from her self-published album Secret Rooms, a fine example of the new Danish melancholy. A more violent take on the piano was given by Morten Pedersen whose trio, The Mighty Mouse, gave an intense concert where explosions of chords gave way to atmospheric explorations of texture, with Norwegian drummer Håkon Berre making all sorts of sounds emerge from his kit. While the wild music of The Mighty Mouse might by perceived as difficult and hard to understand, it was intuitively appreciated by two kids who marvelled at the music, taking it in while lying on floor. The older audience was also open to the sounds, and a distinguished gentleman spontaneously bought the band a beer after a highlight of tight musical improvisation.
The special atmosphere at Jazzkælderen isn't a new invention. Last year, Barefoot Records also hosted a series of concerts at the store, but unfortunately this year's event will be the last as the store is now closing down. However, the musicians are taking matters into their own hands and are opening stores themselves. At Krystalgade, the label-collective ILK presented a series of intimate living room concerts where the audience literally was able to breathe musicians like drummer Kresten Osgood and bassist Thomas Morgan in the neck. The concerts were held as showcases with free admission and the possibility to buy records at special price.
There was also another strong commercial and artistic initiative during the festival, taken by a collective of ten young Danish jazz musicians who has opened their own store: Homemade Records. The idea is that the store will only sell music by the participating musicians and thus offer a small but exclusive oeuvre to the quality-seeking customer. To whet the appetite of a future audience, the musicians held a number of concerts. Young pianist August Rosenbaum played with his Beholder-project and in a duo with the eminent Thomas Morgan, who was very prolific during the festival, and there was also a chance to hear the fine band of guitarist Per Lyhne Løkkegaard, Petrus Kapell, whose album, A Call for Silence (Your Favourite Jazz, 2010) blends pop, country, rock and jazz into a wonderful eclectic stew.
Your Favourite Jazz is a high profile Danish jazz label run by the pianist Lars Winther. Besides Petrus Kapell, one of the latest signings on the label is the percussion wunderkind Emil de Waal whose music merges playful electronica and jazzy rhythms. The latest offering from de Waal is called Elguitar & Saxofon (Electric Guitar & Saxophone) and introduces the curious combination of de Waal in the company of three guitarists who also play the saxophone. The result is finely woven carpet of electronic and acoustic rhythms interspersed with delicate horn lines and catchy riffs. De Waal played with his project at Studenterhuset and live his compositions got a rough and edgier sound, shunning the more sophisticated vibe of the record. Tracks like the bouncing "Börsa" and the electronic afrobeat of "Birba" became vehicles for the energetic interplay of the saxophonists and guitarists, who were driven forward by the restless rhythms of de Waal. The playful nature of the concert was underlined when it ended with a completely improvised composition where the jam-band nature of the live- experience became fully unfolded.