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Live Reviews

Punkt Festival 2013

By Published: September 19, 2013
Then there was K-35, the place where musicians, media and guests of the festival went, during the day and late into the evening, to eat, drink, relax and interact. Punkt has always maintained a remarkable transparency that dissolves the walls between artists and media and artists and fans. With only a couple of exceptions, if you want to meet your favorite artist, he or she is often as close as the seat beside you at breakfast, at Kick, or at K-35, and it's this creation of an open, friendly atmosphere that has contributed to some of Punkt's best ideas; after all, when a couple of artists who've never met each other before sit down for a drink at K-35, who knows what might come of it?

Meanwhile, back at Kick for the last night of Punkt 2013, it was a combination of old friends, new friends and old friends in new constellations. The evening opened up with festival first-timers, Ethopian singer Eténèsh Wassié and French bassist Mathiew Sourisseau. Bass and vocals are not a new idea—in the jazz world, for example legendary singer Sheila Jordan
Sheila Jordan
Sheila Jordan
has shared a longstanding duo with bassist Harvie S
Harvie S
Harvie S
. But with Sourisseau playing an acoustic bass guitar fed through a series of processors, the possibilities became much greater for a duo that, at first, seemed to have the audience a little puzzled but, as the show went on, captured it entirely, the closing number meeting with a level of applause far louder than what the number of people in Kick should have realistically been able to muster.

And it was a well-deserved ovation. The duo was originally invited to perform at a Punkt evening last year in Paris, at France's Banlieues Blaues festival. Elements of Africa/Nigerian tradition met, with Sourisseau's strummed, low chords, something akin to Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem
Anouar Brahem
Anouar Brahem
's music.

The show gradually became more dramatic, bolstered by some remarkable visuals; a row of planetoid-looking ovals were scattered in ways that looked three-dimensional; as Sourisseau began to play with greater intensity, adding distortion to the mix, Tord Knudsen's waves of light—almost like a cage—began to surround them—a remarkable effect.

At one point a heavily reverbed and prepared bass created a drone, with overtones and harmonic feedback, as Sourisseau played his instrument with a handheld device— possibly a small rotary sander. The piece became increasingly extreme, with sudden peaks, stops and starts; at one point, Sourisseau literally flipped his bass on its head and rubbing the top of it along the stage floor. Becoming more extreme still, everything suddenly stopped and, with all the noisy sonics gone, the piece concluded with nothing but spare chords and Wassié's whispery voice. With Sourisseau's softly tremelo'd bass guitar and Wassié's expressive voice, there were times when the set loosely resembled Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger's trio with Africa singer/percussionist Mola Sylla and fellow Dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje, heard recently on Down Deep (Winter&Winter, 2013)

There were also times when Wassié's plaintive voice made the meaning of her words if not unimportant, then at least unessential to feeling what the music was about. She seemed, at times, to be more speaking than singing, but it all made for a powerful performance that closed with an a cappella vocal intro that demonstrated Wassié's full (and broad) range, and her control over dynamics. As Sourisseau joined in, driving the number with a powerfully propulsive groove, the audience spontaneously began to clap along; proof that the audience may have been uncertain at the beginning of their show, but was completely won over by its conclusion.

With music of such Afro-centric origins, it was no surprise that the festival chose Audun Kleive to participate in the live remix with Jan Bang. The drummer/percussionist is one of Norway's most well-known drummers, having played with everyone from guitar hero Terje Rypdal
Terje Rypdal
Terje Rypdal
to pianist/composer Jon Balke
Jon Balke
Jon Balke
, in addition to releasing his own records, many under the moniker of Generator X. A rare player who can do more with a single cymbal—as he proved, last year, at the 60th birthday celebration for Sidsel Endresen at Oslo's Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria—than many drummers can do with a full kit, he's also a member of the remarkable Jøkleba trio, with Balke and trumpeter/singer Per Jorgensen that impressed those brave enough to participate in the Ekstremjazz afternoon at this year's Vossa Jazz Festival, where Kleive used nothing but a Roland Wave Drum.

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Download jazz mp3 “Passport Control” by Jan Bang