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Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2013

Henning Bolte By

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Bill Frisell brought the work of his new album, Big Sur (Okeh, 2013) to the Museum's stage. The quintet of the recording—cellist Hank Roberts, violist Eyvind Kang, violinist Jenny Scheinman and drummer Rudy Royston were augmented by violinist Carrie Rodriguez.

The album contains great pieces of music and the string thing is challenging. But the question was if it would also work well in a stretched out version live. Apparently it did not appeal to the audience as a whole. There were listeners who were deeply drawn in and there were listeners who found it monotonous. Within the long arches, the sheer endless repetition of colors and shifts were poor. The emphasis was on the broad meandering of melodic lines evoked by all five string-instruments. There was, however, some spectrality. Kang sometimes went cautiously into microtonal playing; there was some integrated soloing by the violins which lifted the music up occasionally, and unison playing with a minute time lag or contrasting bowing direction helped counterbalance the music a bit.

Making it back to ILK in time to hear the rawer qualities of pianist Simon Toldam's Little Stork Orchestra, consisting of Sture Ericson on alto sax and bass clarinet, Mads Hyhne, trombone, and Jimmy Nyborg, trumpet, plus bassist Nils Davidsen and drummer Peter Bruun. It was a heavily contrasting thing in body and mind with the preceding experience, a strong salute to the Copenhagen summer night. The music of Toldam's group shifted in ever surprising ways between dusky, shadowy movements, frenetic outbursts and clear melodic shapes (traces of Sun Ra, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra and Instant Composers Pool). His music was enormously rich but not easy to pin down, consume or grasp. There was always something left which waited to be taken up into reality.

Unfortunately the preceding concert of eminent Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker, with German trombonist Johannes Bauer, young Danish bassist Adam Pultz Melbye and American drummer Gerald Cleaver was missed; according to people attending, it was extraordinary.



Day 3: July 14

The final day's first meeting was with pianist Simon Toldam, having met him earlier as member of the Han Bennink Trio. He spoke of his new trio album. Sunshine Sunshine or Green as Grass, with Nils Davidsen on bass and Knut Finsrud on drums, released on ILK as a two-LP set (as well as on CD), with a remarkably designed black sleeve. Toldam touched on questions such as his song-driven nature, recording locations and procedures, the physical surroundings of music-making, norms and expectations over music-making for real audiences, trust among fellow musician and over-accessing the possibility to cross musical universes freely, together with certain fellow musicians.

Next, Carsten Dahl—who, the day before, performed with Palle Mikkelborg at Statens Museum For Kunst. Dahl, known for his collaborations with Arild Andersen, Alex Riel, Ed Thigpen, Jon Christensen and others, has had a long career in music. He has released several solo recordings, the latest of which is the recently released Dreamchild. Dahl teaches at Copenhagen's Rhythmic Music Conservatory and has a quartet, The Carsten Dahl Experience, with bassist Nils Bo Davidsen, saxophonist Jesper Zeuthen and drummer Stefan Pasborg.

In a short span of time he spoke about the making of Dreamchild, touched upon the repercussions of bright and dark life experiences on music, memory and childhood imagination, the effects of surrounding sounds, bird songs and the breaking down/rebuilding of the big perfected sound machine of the modern piano.

The day ended with two different trios at the ILK venue: the Simon Toldam Trio and a trio featuring guitarist Mark Solborg. Solborg performed with the great saxophonist Lotte Anker and a young Argentinian cellist, Ceci Quinteros. ILK has just released Solborg's latest album, On Dog (2013)—a brass plus guitar affair with the three Italians—Piero Bittolo Bon (alto saxophone, bass clarinet), Francesco Bigoni (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), and Beppe Scardino (baritone saxophone), with Marc Lohr on drums.

In the case of the Toldam/Davidsen/Bruun trio, it was a question of which path was taken when and by which member. There was no dominance or dependence to sense amongst their interplay. Their modus operandi, albeit serious, is understated rather than overstated. On a firm musical ground of their own they set out, alert and keen, on undiscovered, unexplored elements and passages. Subdued or enthusiastically the trio remained playful all throughout, with an audience staying, eager and receptive, until the very end.

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