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12 Points Festival 2017

Henning Bolte By

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12 Points Festival
Aarhus, Denmark
July 16-18, 2017

The program selection of 12 Points Festival organized by Irish Improvised Music Company gives an indication what's next, what might be strong groups in the near future based on a clear concept of artistic identity/ development, an intense and neat observation of young musicians/groups all over Europe, a vast network of informants and an application process. It is quite astonishing how this is managed, organized and produced by just three professionals from the organization's headquarters in Dublin. 12 Points, which is a residential festival for musicians/groups from 12 European countries, is one of the most important junctions on the way to enter relevant European festivals and clubs.

Diversity

Jazz as a divers and heterogeneous field by nature is represented at each 12 Points edition by young musicians and groups (age 35) with a strong artistic profile and solid and attractive performance capabilities. The festival represents in a nutshell what the next generation is willing and able to contribute. The emphasis is not so much on assumed audience compatibility/acceptability but rather on originality, artistic challenge, strong identity and quality of audience connectivity. This year's 12 participants came from Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Lithuania, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands, France, Ireland, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

This year almost half of the groups were bass-less, only two groups did not use keyboards and all groups were making use of drums. Contrary to other editions there were no solo-artists and there was only one duo-constellation, SCHNTZL from Belgium. Two groups were female led, (only) three of the 11 horn-players were female and one group, chuffDRONE from Austria, was clearly female dominated (4:1). There was no (fully) real time creation/free-improvising configuration represented. The main mode was improvised variation of pre-structured pieces (mostly own compositions).

The works' body/body of works

This year's palette of diversity can be captured in bodily terms of head, legs, arms and hands. The body image suggests that all variants are part of a whole and interconnected more or less strong. On the right leg there are future extensions of the classic (piano) driven configurations. On the left leg are much louder variants with heavy electric guitar, drums, sax, noise elements and above all electronic megafication. In the place of head (memory) and neck there are two groups digging deep(er) into historic styles interweaving those with contemporary approaches. As arms you have variants reaching out further in different ways. On the right arm is the spacious approach of Danish trio Frit Fald (Free Fall) of pianist Lars Fiil. The trio created significant yet enigmatic configurations of playful particles. The left arm is the place of more orchestral dynamism, crisscrossing and challenging transitions. Here you find the highly dynamic and colorful quintet of chuffDRONE. Belgian duo SCHNITZL with its beautiful stories is situated in between all in the place of the sternum. Dutch quartet Tommy Moustache is in between too and has its place at the oesophagus/gullet. The group uses parody of media and sales talk to loosen up its musical performance—a bit Frank Zappa like -to stay in simpatico connection with the audience. It functions as a smoothening liquid for its music to be swallowed.

A closer look at the diversity

Here's a closer look at the groups of the different parts of the imaginary body of work.

Legs—piano side

The dynamics of pianist Marie Kruttli's trio from Lausanne arose amongst others from a special combination of sophisticated construction and cumulative spinning movements in a diversity of pieces with titles as "Istanbul dorme," "Running After The Sun" or the lingering elegiac "Sad Song." With bassist Lukas Traxel and drummer Martin Perret the trio induced a Phronesis kind of density and urgency.

Francesco Orio's trio with electric bass guitarist Fabio Crespiatico and drummer Davide Bussoleni showcased virtuosic, high speed and throughout climaxing pianism in tricky pieces. Its music ranged from whisking playful particles to airy heights and lullaby modes as well as Cecil Taylor like attacks. It was an impressive collection that still is on the way to its deeper song and narrative.

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