2012 Tampere Jazz Happening: Tampere, Finland, November 1-4, 2012
The most mainstream jazz set of the whole weekend came courtesy of The John Scofield Trio. This was almost a shocking reverse-avant interlude, when surrounded by the largely more innovative artists of the Happening. It took the guitarist around 40 minutes before mining a vein of molten lava, and then the set ascended for its closing run. A major problem was the tonal similarity between Scofield and electric bassist Steve Swallow. When one solo concluded, the next was invariably too close in expressive style, leading to a samey inertia. Having heard Scofield primarily in stoking 'n' searing blues, rock, groove and gospel settings in recent times, it almost came as a disappointment when returning to his mellower classic jazz tone.
The triumphant set of the entire Happening fittingly arrived right at the end of the last day. Percussionist Adam Rudolph presented his larger ensemble, the Go:Organic Orchestra, in the lively surroundings of Klubi. This outfit wasn't anywhere near as enlarged as it is when Rudolph presents his Monday night residency at New York City's Roulette venue, and it also appeared in a more electric, funkified make-up. Moving Pictures acted as the core, augmented by a group of Finnish extras that included saxophonist Mikko Innanen. Rudolph also co-opted several members of Ebo Taylor's band, presumably in a spontaneous move. Whereas the regular New York City orchestra usually features a host of string and flute players, this medium-sized variant concentrated on horn and percussion power.
Rudolph was an inspirational leader. His conducting prompts were vaguely associated with those of Butch Morris, Walter Thompson and John Zorn, but the percussionist usually prepares scored matter, whether written or pictorial. Whatever the nature, he demonstrated that he is one of the finest catalyst-cataclysm conductors in the field. It seemed impossible to transcend the opening (and lengthy) funk convolution odyssey, but Rudolph almost succeeded, dipping into calm space before offering repeated percussion-heavy buildups. Few are the times that naked funk sweating has been allied so seamlessly with hyper-complex time signatures and dance-forcing earthy-cerebral grooves. Bowie, Haynes and Wessel were principals in the soloing levitations, with the old Defunkt trombonist also providing lusty vocals. This was certainly one of the year's most ecstatic performancesin any city, any festival, anywhere.
Photo Credit: Maarit Kytöharju