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Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2013

Henning Bolte By

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Guitarist Solborg is clearly an ensemble-oriented musician, never dominating with overpowering or busy guitar sounds. He regularly uses his guitar in a percussive as well as semi-acoustic fashion. It gave a lot of space to Anker and especially Quinteros, who produced piercing and edgy sounds. The ever agile Bruun made it all sound stronger and kept everybody to the basics. Solborg was a fine player capable of accumulating rich layers of impacting sound.

Passing by the Copenhagen Jazz House on the way back to the hotel, there was the chance to take a glimpse of Tim Berne's Snakeoil, during its second set. Alas, it was not possible to check out the Spacelab of Nikolaj Hess. The same applied to interesting performances at venues like Café Scenen, Christianhavns Beboerhus/Barefoot records, Huset KBH, Koncertkirken, Literaturhus and Betty Nansen Teatret. There simply needs to be more time to get a wider view of the festival.

The festival put a rich and vibrant variety of music on the map and offered Copenhagen musicians great possibilities for exposure, which was a very good thing. It also raised the question of what is going on and happening during the other 355 days of the year in Copenhagen? Is music going on at all these places or even a considerable number of them? Are all these musicians playing there regularly? Does the festival mirror, to a certain extent, the real situation? Copenhagen musicians have to cope with similar problems as their colleagues in London, Oslo, Vienna or Amsterdam, but they have some special anchors on which to rely. The festival followed a multilateral proactive strategy by building alliances first with Berlin, London and Rochester. It was a complex process that provided opportunities for musicians—but no guarantees.

It would be premature to draw a conclusion or to report clear trends. Danish jazz has redefined its traditional American connections and built up new North American musical relationship of its own kind. It has also developed its very own style-independent openness and flexibility that helps to shape new independent sonic contours. Sound exploration apparently plays an important role in the creative process, together with its very own approach to density reduction and gaining clarity.

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All Photos: Henning Bolte

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