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Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2013

Henning Bolte By

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Bartof Café is one of the small club/café venues in Copenhagen with regular programming of attractive live concerts at a high level. During the festival. Hess played there in various combinations, with Pierre Dorge, George Garzone, Jonas Westergaard, Bob Rockwell, Christine von Bülow, Sissel Vera Pettersen and Malene Mortensen, to name a few. Hess and Henderson went through wonderful renderings of American standards or evergreens, and some really remarkable versions of Kurt Weill songs. A big pleasure on an early Saturday afternoon in the summer!

After this intimate gig, a meeting with young Danish saxophonist/composer Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard revealed his latest projects. Løkkegaard released the extraordinary Vesper (Self Produced) last year. He was probably one of the rare exceptions of a Copenhagen jazz musician who—due to the birth of his second child—was not involved in any festival gigs. He is very much into exploring different aspects tone colors, their layering, extension and expansion. His newest work, written solely in his head and then recorded with a group of apt performers, explores the interferences of tonal colors of multiple clarinets. It reveals a process that works more and more for the composer.

From Frederiksberg, it was then back on the bike to the ILK venue in Kødbye, where the threesome of reedist Sture Ericson, bassist Nils Bo Davidsen and drummer Peter Bruun were playing. Bruun was part of an impressive performance with trombonist Samuel Blaser and guitarist Marc Ducret at Jazzdor in Berlin. Here it was a revelation once again, because of the masterful inventive way these musicians created real-time music.

Both Davidson and Ericson are top-notch musicians, with bassist Davidson perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of Danish jazz. They played one long piece, which started with a kind of sound exorcism and continued as a miraculous flow of abstract sounds. Unusual sound configurations proceeded in a fluent and seemingly logical way, creating a wondrous coherent whole. After this surprising experience Bruun met for a chat which touched on questions like unintended involvement in the creative process of real-time music—its paradoxes, tensions and pitfalls—and the dialectics of rules, patterns and clichés. Bruun has two new releases on vinyl—Under The Mile Off Moon, by Eggs Laid By Tigers, and even hotter off the press, Unintended Consequences, a quintet album with a stellar lineup of pianist Søren Kjærgaard, saxophonist/clarinetist Torben Snekkestad, bassist Jonas Westergaard and Norwegian trumpeter Eivind Lønning, an all-Scandinavian affair. All are groups and individuals on which to keep both ears and eyes.

Danes are apparently fond of vinyl and carefully designed sleeves and boxes. Owning some beautiful pieces already, it's clear that vinyl is meant to be something special , but this is no exception at all in the Danish context. Many albums on ILK are released as vinyl only, which means it is not an extra but a special category connected with a special way of listening to music. In the case of Unintended Consequences, the back of the sleeve is designed as a studio sheet with handwritten information on the original recording tapes. The copies of the Unintended Consequences vinyl are numbered and also have the following additional handwritten info on the album: "The consequences of an act may be unintended or intended. A state of affairs is an unintended consequence of an act if it results from the act , although it was not the aim of the act to bring about this state of affairs. An intended consequence of an act, on the other hand, reflects a will, plan, or desire to make a particular state of affairs obtain. Only conscious beings with complex mental states can have aims in this way. Tables and avalanches, for example, do not." A special mental and emotional space: a new culture of listening is being created by the committed reintroduction of this kind of vinyl.

After an inspiring conversation with Bruun it was back on the bike again, changing places from ILK to Statens Museum For Kunst, where Bill Frisell played with his Big Sur Sextet, preceded by a performance of Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, harpist Helen Davies and pianist Carsten Dahl. It was a big contrast not only venue-wise but also musically. Everything looked beautiful and inviting. The main purpose was to see Palle Mikkelborg, one of the legendary Danish musician who is now in his seventies, for the first time live. It turned out to be an anticlimax. Mikkelborg still has his excellent tone on the trumpet, but excelled a bit too much in exhibiting attitudes referring to Miles Davis. Dahl courageously gave the music his own twists, but Mikkelborg did not open up for music beyond his ego. It remained a series of nice small musical splinters.

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