2010 Jarasum Jazz Festival, Gapeyong, South Korea
One of the many pleasing aspects of Jarasum was the juxtaposition of bands; following the straight-ahead, Coltrane-fuelled In-Young Kim Quartet, saxophonist Yuri Honing's Wired Paradise threw all attempts at categorization out of the proverbial window with its mixture of jazz, rock and psychadelia. Honing's source of inspiration is perhaps as much punk as it is jazz, though his own melodic, pure tenor sound is not unlike that of Jan Garbarek. The energetic set was almost entirely made up of tunes from White Tiger (Jazz in Motion, 2010), music inspired by Indian novelist Aravind Adiga's wonderful novel White Tiger, (Atlantic Books, 2008) which won the coveted Booker Prize. What Adiga's book and Honing's music have in common is the sound of surprise in the narrative, and a compelling vibrancy.
Opening with the slow burning "Zitelle," Honing's tenor sang over a slow dub-like groove courtesy of bassist Mark Haanstra and long-standing drummer Joost Lijbaart, paving the way for Frank Mobus' angular guitar solo. This languorous, atmospheric set opener was the perfect accompaniment to the retreating sun and the encroaching darkness. "Kaiser Joe," had an overtly rock aesthetic and Haanstra's churning bass evoked English punk-rock band The Stranglers. Punk also colored the thunderous "Meet Your Demons," a charging, double-time romp which Honing dedicated to iconic The Stooges singer Iggy Pop. Honing and second guitarist, Keisuke Matsuno shredded wildly in turn on a powerful cameo of a number which barely stumbled over the two-minute mark. By way of contrast, the ambient "Tensing Norgay" featured a more pensive Honing.
The elegant, slow grooves and the burning intensity that are two sides to the music of Wired Paradise came together on "Rollo Thomasi." Underpinned by Haanstra's profound bass, Matsuno took center stage, carving out a serpentine solo of a blue tonality. Few bands these days employ duel guitaristsor duel anything for that matter but the combination of Matsuno and the edgier, quasi-psychedelic guitar of Stef Van Es brings a certain breadth to the music and more colors to the sound.
Original takes on David Bowie's "Space Oddity," a gorgeous reworking of Bjork's "Isobel" and the Nina Simone song "Wild is The Wind"which Honing as been playing in his trio for 20 yearsbrought an end to an engrossing performance.
The official opening ceremony to the 7th Jarasum International Jazz Festival followed Yuri Honing's Wired Paradise. Several big cheeses were invited by festival director J.J. In to bang the enormous Buddhist temple drum that had been rolled into the center of the stage, and thus declared the festival open. The mayor of the Gapeyong, Lee Sin-Yong, the provincial governor, Kim Moon-Soo and the senator of the National Assembly, Chung Byung-kuk, all stepped up to bang the drum and fireworks then burst above the main stage accompanied by John William's Star Wars theme.
From left: Antonello Salis, Furio di Castri, Paulo Fresu
It's twelve years since trumpeter Paolo Fresu, accordionist Antonello Salis and bassist Furio DiCastri first recorded together as P.A.F. The three Italians don't convene with great frequencyand in fact have only recorded twiceso there was a sense of occasion about this concert. The sprightly beginning to the set, with Salis charging up and down his keys as though his hands were on fire, with di Castri and Fresu giving swinging chase, may have been designed to combat the chill, for the evening temperature drops like a stone in South Korea at this time of year.