Jazz in Church: Bucharest, Romania, March 21-24, 2013
March 21-24, 2013
From the very first edition, Jazz in Church has convinced through professionalism and a musical excellence, which are sure to place it soon among the best-rated European festivals. By putting together an illustrious lineup and demonstrating exquisite selectivity, the organizers inaugurated a location that emulates an existing European tradition. For four nights the cupola of the Lutheran Church in Bucharest hosted concerts of superlative creativity and interpretative quality. Four nights which will persist in the memory of those present, like a time suspended in an ethereal weave of soundstender, powerful, subtle, celestial.
Thursday, March 21
Mircea Tiberian & Liviu Butoi
The reputed Romanian duo, Mircea Tiberian on organ and piano, and Liviu Butoi on saxophones and flute, opened the festival with long lingering tones of cloistral solemnity. Organ chords in ascension were joined by the smooth meanderings of the sopranino saxophone, which glided into heights of raking intensity, to abate then in calm stances of contemplation. Later on the sound of flute emerged from the intricate lacework of organ tones in high arches, releasing the melody, which then dissolved in departing whispers.
A calm theme on the piano ended in perfect harmonic rapport with the airy phrasing of the saxophone. Another one, more classical, combined the energetic cadence of the organ with the sonic wanderings of the flute. Like a dense veil, the sax tones smoothed the harmonic crests of the organ, plunging and arising again from abysses. The tension was taken over in minor by the keys with percussion inserts on the first beat, to get in balance with the internal harmony created by the soprano sax. The concert of the two musicians, fully improvised, lent a transcendental breath to the evening.
Nik Baertsch, Sha, Mats Eser & Romanian Strings Orchestra
Nik Baertsch on piano and Sha on bass clarinet started the first part of the program with a sound duality, which met its pendant in the obsessive repetition of two notes at the far end of the keys. The sonic arc, like a perpetual change of moods created by the alternating sounds, became gradually fluid, forming together with the clarinet a compact sonic mass. Later, the sound connected the two instruments in a sonic flow that crossed the podium until the intrusion of the high notes volatilized the dialogue. And then, right in the middle of the rhythmical summit marked by vibrant touches of the keys, the musicians smiled at each other with that nod of recognition so familiar amongst jazzmen. "Modul 42" started with a meditative counterbalance, which gradually broke into segments, resulting in harmonic calmness cluttered with crystals of sound. The intervals grew like the vibration of a seismograph, rounded up later in floral chords, and the hiss of the tide.
Other than the preceding performances, Nik Baertsch renounced the rhythmic arsenal and presented a production of exquisite chromatic complexity, giving us reason to believe that the musician will soon outrun the modular phase. Baertsch, Sha and Mats Eser were joined by a group of young Romanian musicians for a performance of transporting dynamism: Baertsch's composition "Two Three," written for string orchestra, piano, bass clarinet, and percussion (marimba, bass drum, snare drum and crotales).
This is how the journey could be rendered chromatically. The piece began with a torrent of chords, the rhythmicity of which was pierced by energetic accents marked by Mats Eser on the bass drum. The dialogue of piano-marimba became a harmonic tapestry with colorful reliefs in red and black. The tremoloed ascension of the strings was sustained by the obsessive piano balance up to the point where it became reversed. A rarefied sostenuto, in generous breaths, like a generous turn of waltz in waves of white muslin, was followed by insect hums hovering above flowers of a solar yellow. A crescendo in unison augmented gravity by adding to it a symphonic touch. The sonic dynamism seemed to follow the discontinuous thread of a thought. The lyrical alternances with concrete attacks created gulfs of blue light, fazed by momentous wind gusts, shadowed by grey clouds and smoothed by a white whirl that vanished at the horizon.
Friday, March 22