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Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2018: The Community Series at Koncertkirken

Henning Bolte By

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Slovenian drummer Dré Hočevar (1987)

Dre Hocevar, the man wearing his trench coat like trumpeter Lester Bowie wore his white lab coat, started his performance not on the drums but on the piano with wandering sounds with no graspable direction before working on the drum set's components. His solo performance became one of a kind. The audience was seated in a circle with its back turned to the drum set so that the action on the drum set was not visible. The audience had to rely solely on its ears, a means to sharpen perception of sound emerging from Hocevar's unconventional work on the drum set, eliciting close listening. Unconventional here means that Hocevar brought forth a lot of sounds you would not expect from or attribute to a drum set. These sounds were not mere spielerei-effects but had an axial place in a greater orchestral whole. In this manner an airy orchestral piece of shifting sounds unfolded, progressing in exciting ways and direction. Hocevar not only performed sitting behind the drum set, but walked around with cymbals and assorted percussion making well-dosed use of the reverb of the church's space thereby producing sounds circling around. It was a(nother) witty and musically valid attempt of this musician to go beyond existing performance rituals and routines.

Dré Hočevar is an important part in the series of drummers giving new shape to the instrument like Swiss drummers Lucas Niggli and Julian Sartorius, Belgian Karen Willems, French Sylvain Darrifourcq and US-American drummer Tyshawn Sorey. As a band leader he has already made his mark with some bold albums investigating new territories Motion In Time (Lajna, 2013), Coding of Evidentiality (Clean Feed Records, 2015), Collective Effervescence (Clean Feed Records, 2016), Transcendental within the Sphere of Indivisible Remainder (Clean Feed Records, 2016) and Surface of Inscription (Clean Feed Records, 2017).

Danish-Norwegian trio of saxophonist Mia Dyberg

The young generation of 'free' musicians can build on their predecessors' achievements. They are now free(d) to switch between different modes of playing and thereby create their own voice, bold jumps and sharp furrows of sound and music. This trio of alto saxophonist Mia Dyberg, bassist Asger Thomsen and drummer Dag Magnusen Narvesen, a Berlin-Copenhagen connection, turned out to be highly energetic, bold and subtle, wild and melodic, far out and far in, visceral with an emergence of deep groove. The trio celebrated the release of its Clean Feed debut Ticket! . It is a trio distinguished by its refined fabrics of sound and its permeating inner pulse. Its music lives by sensible alternating modes, dynamics, and temperatures more than by merely forcing it up linearly. It is open improvisation with emergent moments of strong rides in the groove as well as moments of lyricism in a newly invented and reconquering strategy of dealing with different modes of playing. It was pretty stunning how Thomsen and Narvesen effortlessly and naturally switched between microtonal, atonal and tonal-melodic and riffing modes of playing. When listening with eyes closed a sudden smiling brainwave of "oh, I never heard Paal Nilssen-Love play so lyrically" came up. It seems there is some clear continuity here too.

A crucial and mysterious thing is how listeners can or cannot connect to the energy and flow of the music of open improvisation. Dyberg seems to be conscious about that and helped it a little bit by referring to her heart beat and invited the members of the audience to focus on their own during a piece. Here is a reaction from the audience:

"I loved the tune Mia's Pulse where she took the tempo from her own heartbeat and encouraged us to check our own to compare while they played to see if we had synchronized."

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