Vossa Jazz XL: Voss, Norway, March 22-24, 2013
Following an engaging show by Holland's I Compani, a ten-piece ensemble whose showintegrated, as it was, with projected clips of female acting icons from films past and presentwas representative of the absurd sense of humor that seems to imbue so many musicians from the Netherlands, an after-party for all the festival volunteers and any journalists/guests still around (some having left earlier in the day) was a chance for everyone to let their hair down and celebrate a job extremely well done.
And well done it was, from the young volunteerswho seemed to be everywhere, ready to help those encountering Vossa Jazz for the first time to find a venue or get any and all questions answeredto the press office, which made sure that the journalists were completely taken care of, to Trude Storheimwho, at the "sheep's head dinner" was awarded a number of gifts in recognition of her outstanding job programming the festival. Vossa Jazz felt less like a festival and more like a celebration, a town happening, an event that didn't just appeal to jazz fans but encouraged the participation of everyone in the community. That's a rare thing, and just one more differentiator for Vossa Jazz, a festival that may be small in location and population, but is huge in scope and intent.
Barring one small misstep with the opening performance, every show attended at Vossa Jazz was superb, and when it comes time to put together the year's best shows list, it will be difficult not to include everything seen at Vossa Jazz. But a few shows stand out as la crème de la crème: Stian Westerhus' cathartic solo show at the Voss wind tunnel; Stian Carstsensen's ambitiously sweeping commissioned work; Sinikka Langeland and Trio Mediaeval Ensemble's afternoon performances...and, of course, Jøkleba!, a group so compelling that a couple hundred almost-as-intrepid spirits made the tough climb, from the cable car station, down and back up Mount Hangur to witness a truly memorable Ekstremjazz show of risk-taking spontaneity, matched only by the various sports experts who turned the afternoon into something truly cinematic.
Boarding the overnight train to Oslo, where it was hard getting to sleep with memories of Vossa Jazz still so fresh, the only thought that kept returning was: this cannot be the only visit to Vossa Jazz. Hopefully, like Punkt and a few other festivals around the world, Vossa Jazz will become an annual event, one to look forward to every year as the Easter weekend approaches.
Page 2, Stian Westerhis/Wind Tunnel: John Kelman
Page 3, Ekstremjazz: Vidar Herre, Courtesy of Vossa Jazz
Page 5, Trio Mediaeval Ensemble: Vidar Herre, Courtesy of Vossa Jazz
All Other Photos: Til Heimesida, Courtesy of Vossa Jazz