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Live Reviews

Jazzfest Berlin 2012: Berlin, Germany, November 1-4, 2012

By Published: November 21, 2012
November 1: Hipp 2012

The musical heritage of the briefly prospering musical miracle Jutta Hipp was committed to two musicians from Berlin—pianist Julia Hülsmann and clarinetist Rolf Kuhn
Rolf Kuhn
b.1929
—along with an ensemble consisting of saxophonist Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Christian Lillinger . Kühn, the elder brother of pianist Joachim Kuhn
Joachim Kuhn
Joachim Kuhn
b.1944
piano
, is a compeer of Hipp, also grew up in Leipzig and was tutored by her immediately after the end of the war. In 1956, Kühn moved to New York, working there for a couple of years in clarinetist Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
's groups with trombonist Urbie Green
Urbie Green
Urbie Green
b.1926
trombone
and bassist Oscar Pettiford
Oscar Pettiford
Oscar Pettiford
1922 - 1960
bass
. Ranking highly in a Down Beat Magazine poll, in 1961 he returned to Europe, where jazz musicians started to figure out their own way of playing.

Later, in 1967, he played at Newport and recorded an album for the Impulse! label with brother Joachim, bassist Jimmy Garrison
Jimmy Garrison
Jimmy Garrison
1934 - 1976
bass, acoustic
and drummer Aldo Romano
Aldo Romano
Aldo Romano
b.1941
drums
. In the 1990s he recorded with saxophonists Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
, Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
b.1946
saxophone
, Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
b.1927
sax, alto
and Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
1949 - 2007
sax, tenor
. Greg Cohen—a participant in various Masada projects by saxophonist John Zorn
John Zorn
John Zorn
b.1953
sax, alto
as well as other Zorn-led ensembles, as well as playing with singer/songwriter Tom Waits
Tom Waits
Tom Waits
b.1949
vocalist
—is currently the director of of Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler's Jazz Department in Berlin. Christian Lillinger is part of the free improvising scene and a real audience-attracting star who is beginning to break through internationally as well.

Hülsmann is a master of a significant brevity which feed strongly into the imagination, leaving enigmatic traces. She has worked a lot with vocalists, including Rebekka Bakken and Roger Cicero, and has recorded two albums with her trio for ECM, Imprint (2011) and The End Of A Summer (2008).

With Kühn and Hülsmann responsible for the arrangements, the ensemble played pieces by Hipp, including "Horatio" (dedicated to pianist Horace Silver
Horace Silver
Horace Silver
b.1928
piano
, Hipp's main inspiration after she arrived at New York), and others based on or inspired by Hipp, such as Hülsmann's "Ballad," which consisted of reworked elements from Hipp compositions.

Kühn and Lovano started brilliantly and with verve, in full synch and, at times, colorful unison. Wonderful soloing and Hülsmann's lead resulted in a no-nonsense manner that kept the music balanced throughout. No simple fifties remake, no strained update, but to the point renditions; music with which to sojourn, but a bit perfunctory. Did it mirror the tragic reluctance of Hipp's real persona?

There were also some thrilling moments in the interaction between Cohen and Lillinger. Lillinger was the only player who set himself free in the long run, going through various stages of intensity, opening up space and expanding. Kühn's personal anecdotes about Jutta and her impressive red hair were the set's only dramaturgical elements. Lots of space and open questions, it seemed that it will still still take some time to reveal this lonely soul.

November 1: Geri Allen & Timeline

The twist of Allen's performance, according to the program, was tap dancer Maurice Chestnut, but unfortunately he did not appear. It was, then, a piano trio with the wonderful Kenny Davis
Kenny Davis
Kenny Davis
b.1961
bass, acoustic
on bass (a buddy from the old M-Base days) and promising young drummer Kassa Overall. Allen's playing was very rich and full of rhythmic power but it did not catch fire. She seemed to act from within an armor, while Overall appeared to play a role as bop-drummer—one of the many facets of this versatile young musician. Alllen tried to push it with Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
's "Ah-Leu-Cha," but it was when she intonated Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
's "Rhythm-A-Ning" that things changed and opened up.

When a few moments later, Lovano appeared on stage to join the trio, it became luscious, including his beautiful shuffle. When they got into the deep blues of "Parker's Mood," the gates opened widely, magnificently resounding into the night

November 2: Drummers' Works

The second night at the Festspielhaus was an evening of drummers in different guises: Swiss veteran Pierre Favre
Pierre Favre
Pierre Favre
b.1937
drums
, founder of Singing Drums, performed with a six-horn brass section augmented by a guitarist and two bassists; Günther Baby Sommer performed with his Greek ensemble; and last, but not least, master drummer Manu Katche
Manu Katche
Manu Katche
b.1958
drums
, with a new lineup of Norwegian saxophonist Tore Brunborg
Tore Brunborg
Tore Brunborg
b.1960
saxophone
, an Italian trumpeter with Norwegian and Macedonian connections, Luca Aquino, and young English keyboardist Jimmy Watson
Jimmy Watson
b.1922
.

It was great to have a tentet like that from Favre. The group, however, played a solid but too uniform set. Sommer had to confine himself to his commemorative context, where a sonic interpretation of cruel actions and war crimes committed by humans against humans was molded. He did the by dramatic percussive accents on gongs and bells amidst the touching miroloi laments of his fellow Greek musicians. To have Manu Katché perform afterwards made good sense. It seems that Katché has gained a wonderful new balance with two brilliantly shining horns; from deeper light and bouncing flow emerged bright mannerisms.

Drummer's Work also took place at Akademie der Künste, with a number of duo performances. The previous night it was Pierre Favre with pianist Irene Schweizer; this night it was English drummer Paul Lytton and American pianist Marilyn Crispell
Marilyn Crispell
Marilyn Crispell
b.1947
piano
, a duo that has collaborated for quite a while. However, neither of these two duos was burdened by a fixed image. It was sound in all its arousing qualities, shaped into stimulating manifestations, each focused in his/her very own way.

Crispell's playing was full of transitions, and contrasts of bursts and lyrical stillness. Lytton used very simple tools; in his very own consequential way he created moving sounds of magic. One of these was the toys moving across the drum skin, generating soft vibrations. This duo's music had its very own process and logic, as real Echtzeitmusik. The impulse, the approach and the results highly coincided, as they delivered wonderful night music.


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