Pori Jazz Festival: Pori, Finland, July 19-21, 2012
The evening closed with the return of the Italian quartetequally enthusiastic, despite having used the intervening time for some energetic audience participation elsewhere in the festival. This second set also reflected Bearzatti's political intentions, being another full-length suite, this time dedicated to the life and political achievements of Malcolm X. Again, both front men played their hearts out, musically interweaving around each other's anthems and antics, as Bearzatti introduced a new program, entitle Monk and Roll Gallo's bass had a more prominent electronic role here, reinforcing an amusing and inspired composition which utilized Falzone's eerie and perverse vocal antics to the full. The piece includes a full range of musical references, replete with twists and surprises, and culminating on a highly optimistic note with a hectic and hilarious samba styled duet on reed and trumpet mouthpieces.
The second evening of the uLTRA nIGHTS was a more predominantly Scandinavian affair, branded as an evening for "Exploring Motors." First up was a trio whose motor force is definitely its bass department in the form of veteran Danish icon Peter Friis Nielsen. This diminutive but extraordinarily dynamic bassist has a track record of work that includes saxophonists Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, John Tchicai and others, and here infused the trio of compatriot and saxophonist Lars Greve and Norwegian drummer Håkon Berre with a platform for exploration. Nielsen seemed very much to be in the driving seat, hunched over his aged Fender with his fingers skittering up and down the fret board, leaving Greve to follow a more muted improvisational path. The motor of this part of the evening was undeniably detuned, even erratic, but the three lengthy musical journeys were exciting in their turns of speed as well as the variety of the musical landscape, from intense to spartan.
Second up was a far more pastoral voyage at the hands of Paolo Angeli and Takumi Fukushima. Playing a customized Sardinian guitar (incorporating three sets of strings, and an intriguing pedal-operated bass string hammer device), Angeli led the process with bow and picks, while Fukushima added touches with her conventional violin and delicate voice. Both sang in their respective native tongues (Sardinian and Japanese), as well as creating delicate audio landscapes as open and inviting as their predecessors' had been crammed and challenging. Angeli's collaborations with guitarist Pat Metheny and drummer Hamid Drake betray a musical sensitivity that is more robust, but on this night his style was matched by his partner's delicacy of approach and song.