Enjoy Jazz: Mannheim, Germany, October 2-November 18, 2011
The second installment of the emerging British jazz featured this year, Troyka, brought a mixture of pop, electro and funk that, due to the combination of instrumentsguitarist Chris Montague, organist Kit Downes and drummer Joshua Blackmoregained an acutely contemporary quality of sound, employing electronic gadgets and games. The result was a dense amalgam with rough contours and sharp corners, out of which clear lines and straight tones surfaced at intervals. In "Born in the Eighties," a representative track from Troika (Harder Sound, 2009), the augmenting repetition, alternating with narrative segments, created a cyclical balance that united raw discontinuities with blue passages of tenderness, resulting in a nervous and assertive performance.
Singer Amina Alaoui first reached international audience through the "Imaginary Folklore" project Siwan (ECM, 2009), led by Norwegian pianist Jon Balke. True to the multi-cultural dimension of her musicjoining Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Jewish sourcesthe Moroccan singer brought a prestigious international group of musicians to her Enjoy Jazz performance, players who enhanced the West Mediterranean atmosphere of the evening by giving it a Brazilian extra touch.
From left: Sofiane Negra, Amina Alaoui
A singer of tender and finely nuanced texture, Alaoui's voice became a presence that filled the room like a summer breeze in the Andalusian hills, like a clear spring flowing past the rocks. The evening was a quiet exploration of a musical space that spreads from Arabic folklore to the Spanish Flamenco and the Portuguese Fado, celebrated in the nostalgic chant of old ballads and lively Moroccan rhythms.
All Photos: Richard Wayne