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Festivals Talking

Martin Longley anticipates festival performances around the globe, tracking down artists to quiz them on their advance strategies, observing their set-list mulling processes, assisting them in their wardrobe decisions and suggesting ridiculous backstage rider requests...


Moers Festival Interviews: Zeena Parkins

Read "Moers Festival Interviews: Zeena Parkins" reviewed by Martin Longley

The harpist Zeena Parkins is one of the key players on the New York City improvising and composing fronts, and indeed on the global scene generally. Most of her upcoming gigs are happening around Europe, although her 2024 datesheet is relatively sparse compared to her 2025 plans. She probably became known to most folks when playing with John Zorn in the late 1980s and beyond, particularly as part of his “Cobra" performances. Subsequently, she has developed her active solo trajectory, ...


Moers Festival Interviews: Virginia Genta

Read "Moers Festival Interviews: Virginia Genta" reviewed by Martin Longley

There is a tradition in the small German city of Moers, although its aims are far from traditional in orientation. Unless we consider the already sixty-year history (at least) of jazz-derived free improvisation. The Moers Festival has run since 1972, originally bent on exploring the vitality of free jazz, and still resolved towards that direction today, although now acknowledging the input of rock, folkloric, electronic and moderne new music elements. Since 2008, the city of Moers has ...


Jazzkaar Interviews: Mingo Rajandi

Read "Jazzkaar Interviews: Mingo Rajandi" reviewed by Martin Longley

The Estonian composer and acoustic bassist Mingo Rajandi has created a body of work that includes jazz, free improvisation, moderne art music and scores for theatrical productions. She moved to Brussels nearly four years ago, but still retains resilient links to her old Tallinn scene, with its regular roster of musicians who arrive from varied stylistic quarters. Rajandi is regularly invited by the Jazzkaar festival to write brand new conceptual pieces each year, taking a key place in its programme. ...


Jazzkaar Interviews: Kirke Karja

Read "Jazzkaar Interviews: Kirke Karja" reviewed by Martin Longley

Estonian pianist Kirke Karja has regularly appeared at the Jazzkaar festival in Tallinn, customarily performing in surprising settings, always delivering a fresh band combination, or a new set of music, or altering ratios between improvisation and composition, acoustic or electric palettes. During the last two years she has a.) been discovered by the rest of the European jazz circuit and b.) formed a touring trio with a stable line-up. This band also features the French bassist Etienne Renard and the ...


Moers Festival Interviews: Kenny Garrett

Read "Moers Festival Interviews: Kenny Garrett" reviewed by Martin Longley

The release of Kenny Garrett's Sounds From The Ancestors album (Mack Avenue, 2021) has reinvigorated his live performances, as the saxophonist tours heartily with an expanded band that's heavy on the Afro-Latin percussion. In recent times, multi-instrumentalist Garrett has been gigging with this dedicated Sounds From The Ancestors line-up, heavily devoted to the album, but not averse to making key tune selections from past decades. Garrett likes to pair up the instruments, with Melvis Santa and Rudy Bird playing percussion ...


Moers Festival Interviews: Brandon Seabrook

Read "Moers Festival Interviews: Brandon Seabrook" reviewed by Martin Longley

Brandon Seabrook cultivates a forked assault on the guitar and the banjo, amplifying both of them, and negotiating their strings at high speeds, filling his playing with hyper-detailed improvisations, or constructing complex compositional strategies, frequently referred to as 'riffs.' Seabrook has long been a crucial presence on the New York City scene, whether leading his own bands, or collaborating with a variegated host of artists on the jazz, rock and improvisational scenes. Often within the same unit. He's ...


Enjoy Jazz Interviews: Tania Giannouli

Read "Enjoy Jazz Interviews: Tania Giannouli" reviewed by Martin Longley

Along with fellow pianist Nik Bärtsch, the other Artist In Residence of this year's Enjoy Jazz festival is Tania Giannouli, from Athens. Like Bärtsch, she has also become a regular at the EJ concerts in Heidelberg, Mannheim and Ludwigshafen, although Giannouli has been appearing in more recent years. In 2020, your scribe caught her set at the Kunsthalle art gallery in Mannheim, during the lockdowns era. This was a physical space that was ideal for virus-avoidance spacing, as well as ...


Enjoy Jazz Interviews: Nik Bärtsch

Read "Enjoy Jazz Interviews: Nik Bärtsch" reviewed by Martin Longley

The Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch has become a virtual fixture of the Enjoy Jazz festival, which customarily inhabits at least three cities in southern Germany. It sprawls across all of October and half of November, presenting at least one performance each night in Heidelberg, Mannheim or Ludwigshafen. Sometimes there will be two or even three gigs on certain days, in different cities, and occasionally the town of Schwetzingen is used, famed for its Rococo Theatre. In 2020, Bärtsch ...


Moers Festival Interviews: Sana Nagano

Read "Moers Festival Interviews: Sana Nagano" reviewed by Martin Longley

Right place, right time, your scribe caught Smashing Humans playing a late night set at the original Nublu club in NYC's Alphabet City, 19th April 2019. Intensity ensued, via a serrated prog-jazz extremity, sharply sculpted in its dynamic schizoid turning of sharp bends, its abrasive surface causing exciting distress. Smashing Humans were assembled by the Japanese violinist Sana Nagano, who's now been dwelling in NYC since 2010, and in the USA for two decades. At that 2019 gig she may ...


Moers Festival Interviews: Max Johnson

Read "Moers Festival Interviews: Max Johnson" reviewed by Martin Longley

New York bassist Max Johnson has embarked on a European tour with his trio, in the run-up to the release of their new album Orbit Of Sound (Unbroken Sounds, 2022). They are playing crucial venues such as Roskam in Brussels and The Loft in Cologne, doubtless climaxing at the Moers Festival, also in Germany (3rd-6th June). Prior to the tour, the trio hadn't played together since August 2021, when they recorded the album. Your scribe was roaming around ...

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