457

6th Rochester International Jazz Festival, Part 2

By

Sign in to view read count
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Rochester International Jazz Festival 2007—6th Edition
Rochester, New York
June 8-16 (Part 2)

Mamadou Diabate
Kilbourn Hall
June 11, 2007
Mamadou Diabate: kora, vocals; Balla Kouyate: balafon + unidentified electric bassist and percussionist.

Much like Fred Hersch, Malian kora master Mamadou Diabate has developed a strong following in Rochester due to his frequent playing here. He played the jazz festival in 2005 (in a duo with balafonist Kouyate), a set that was praised by all who saw it. He also performed at Kilbourn Hall in 2006 as part of the Eastman School of Music world music series (two sets—one solo, the other with his band). One might think a third appearance in three years would be overload, but Kilbourn Hall was filled to capacity, and everyone appeared ready as he strode regally onstage.

They opened with "Djanjo," a traditional song that was played delicately with a languid sway. Kouyate's balafon provided ornamentation to Diabate's quicksilver kora lines. This is a wonderfully balanced ensemble with each member giving the music its distinct character. The brittle contrapuntal lines of the balafon interact with the thicket of strings, creating a dense texture. Underneath, the flowing lines of the electric bass and the percussionist's cross-rhythms give flexible support. Diabate's set was a good mixture of the various moods of Malian music, including a love song, a hunter's song, celebration song etc. He also played a couple of originals. Audiences were dazzled by the arrangements with their abrupt tempo shifts and start/ stop sequences. The group established a groove that initially had people dancing in their seats and later, by the end of the set, in the aisles clamoring for a well-deserved encore. It wasn't jazz (although Diabate has collaborated with several jazz musicians including Roswell Rudd and Ben Allison), but it surely had a place at this festival.

Midaircondo
Lutheran Church Of The Reformation
June 11, 2007
Lisen Rylander: tenor sax, vocals, electronics a/o; Liese Nordstrom: bass flute, vocals, electronics a/o

This concert was part of the Nordic Jazz Now series, and I have to own up to being a bit lukewarm about having to see this show. While I find some electronica enjoyable, a good chunk of it I find wanting. But since the club pass always gives one the option to leave and check something else out, I figured I'd give it a shot. Besides, as my wife said, "Two girls and electronics ...what's not to like? So Sweden's Midaircondo was our next destination.

We arrived late (Diabate ran overtime), and the venue was packed and hot—standing room only. My apprehension only increased when I realized the concert hadn't started, and I could see the duo (looking like characters from a Guy Maddin movie) plus a sound man and festival promoter John Nugent frantically trying to maneuver their way around a forest of electronic equipment on the table. Obviously something wasn't working. Apparently this was their first time performing in the U.S., and they hadn't accounted for the difference in voltage.

Eventually the problem was resolved, and the music started. It was a two-voiced loop type thing that wasn't particularly effective. There was the usual attrition after the first piece, and some nearby seats became available. I thought I'd stick around a little more. The second tune seemed a little more interesting, incorporating more instruments, though I was far from won over. However, something happened, and by the third tune I realized I was being drawn into this music. Rylander picked up her tenor and started playing some interesting lines with a really nice tone. Nordstrom picked up the bass flute, and the blend of the two instruments over electronics was quite attractive. This duo had a really unique sound, and it sounded quite nice and spacious in the church. The one exception was the vocal element, which was a bit lost in the church's acoustics. The visual element didn't particularly seem essential. They performed in front of a large projection screen that flashed various images (floating jellyfish, toy reindeer, skylines etc) that may or may not have been related to the lyrics. But by the final piece, they had won me over with their unique blend of voices, electronics and reeds.

It was a fascinating hour of music. And it made for an extreme listening contrast with the more "natural music of Diabate. But there was one thing the two bands had in common: like Diabate, Midaircondo wasn't jazz, but they surely had a place at this festival. And this band was a good example of one of the consistent qualities of the RIJF: the sound of surprise; there always seems to be at least one band exceeds expectations.

Hanna Richardson Quartet
Jazz Street Stage
June 12, 2007
Hanna Richardson: vocals; Bob Sneider: guitar; Phil Flanagan: bass; Mike Melito: drums


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read WOMAD 2017 Live Reviews WOMAD 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Punkt Festival 2017 Live Reviews Punkt Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: September 17, 2017
Read Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium Live Reviews Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: September 16, 2017
Read 38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival Live Reviews 38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 15, 2017
Read Sue Rynhart at The Cresent Arts Centre Live Reviews Sue Rynhart at The Cresent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 15, 2017
Read 38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden Live Reviews 38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Gerry Malkin Quintet at the BeanRunner Café" Live Reviews Gerry Malkin Quintet at the BeanRunner Café
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2016
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Grand Union Orchestra at Wilton's Music Hall" Live Reviews Grand Union Orchestra at Wilton's Music Hall
by Duncan Heining
Published: June 20, 2017
Read "We Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2016
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "Like A Jazz Machine 2017" Live Reviews Like A Jazz Machine 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.