Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Babel Med Music 2017

Babel Med Music 2017
Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
Babel Med Music 2017
Marseille, France
March 16-18, 2017

Babel Med Music is at once a public festival, a conference and a trade fare, possessing the capacity to be experienced on multiple levels, as the ratios of these aspects are juggled by the individual attendee. Its thrust is primarily towards global sounds, rootsy and ethnically-inclined, from purist into fusion, but mostly the latter. This year, there has been an attempt to include jazz as a strong ingredient, but out in the field this was not so apparent, both in quantity and inherent genre manifestations. Marseille makes an ideal home for the appreciation of global musics, being a major French port, and a nexus for the Afro-Mediterranean and beyond. To underline this, the daytime talks, panels and seminars, as well as the evening multi-stage showcase gigs, are housed on the dockside zone, within a short walking distance of each other. Not much else is around the Dock Des Suds venue's part of town in the evening, but it was easy to barfly in a corner old-man café, and then masticate merguez in-a-baguette, just up the street.

In the daytime, the many business stands, conference events, and a small number of afternoon music showcases, were situated in a huge hangar, accessible via a zig-zagging metal staircase, if the ascenseur was too slow in coming. The small live act stage programme contained a few gems, only caught by a smattering of these music- lovin,' music biz types. A particular highlight of this local-region platform was Nafas, a global-jazz trio featuring saxophonist Fred Pichot, bassist Sylvain Terminiello and drummer Ahmad Compaoré. Their sinuous parts spliced Afro-Arabic groove to free jazz abstraction, revolving around some notably pliable basslines, building up a genuine force of optimistic expression. No bland audience flattery was needed: they just delivered a set of consistent musical dynamism. The next afternoon, La Mossa, an all-female polyphonic group also delivered a compelling set, full of vocal exuberance, members taking turns to glide forward and lead off a particular song, or pick up a hand-drum to palpitate, all of them well-versed in theatricality as a means to enlarge their degree of communication.

For the hardcore music freak, untethered by business networking concerns, the evening multi-stage gigs in the Docks Des Suds venue provide the crucial core of this festival, with an abundant programme that is varied and imaginative, combining unfamiliar growers and established presences on the worldwide scene. All of the stages are housed in a sprawling venue, with an outdoor bar and restaurant run that featured a nightly dj scene. On the first evening, there were a few instances of the planned jazz content being derailed, for whatever reasons. You know when you're at a gig, and the only thing worse than the faint sussurus of chatter is the far louder snake-hisses made by the close-proximity complainers. Then, a third faction latched onto the absurdity of this, making their own exaggerated ssshhh-ing sounds. Unfortunately, this happened early in the Israeli New Yorker pianist Shai Maestro's set, making a concentration on his admittedly mellow meanderings quite challenging. With multiple stages and staggered timings comes the problem of folks entering and leaving in a constant stream. Not a disadvantage for the majority of acts, but the occasional quiet band can suffer from this situation. Then, the Canadian (with Haitian parents) saxophonist Jowee Omicil turned in a disappointing set, too full of showbiz tricks, tepid funk grooves and endless party-calls to the crowd. The evening's pinnacle was scaled at midnight, when the French-Algerian Mehdi Haddad led Speed Caravan with his heavily electrified oud, subjecting North African music to heavy surf-rock and psychedelic augmentation. Where leopard-skin meets duct-tape, as his chosen axe-coverings, with buzzing spirals of rai fuzz coaxed out of his footpedal mountain, sounding like slide-howling, without the bottleneck, as he bends every single note into the heavens. Haddad sustained this energy level and soloing frenzy throughout his entire set, with no slippage whatsoever.


comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 8, 2018
Read "7 Mile House Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews 7 Mile House Jazz Festival 2018
by Walter Atkins
Published: March 25, 2018
Read "Rossano Sportiello Trio at The Jazz Corner" Live Reviews Rossano Sportiello Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Bray Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Bray Jazz Festival 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2018
Read "Trish Clowes at Mermaid Arts Centre" Live Reviews Trish Clowes at Mermaid Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner" Live Reviews Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read "Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Constellation in Chicago" Live Reviews Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Constellation in Chicago
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 14, 2018