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Enjoy Jazz Festival 2012

Enjoy Jazz Festival 2012
Adriana Carcu By

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2012 Enjoy Jazz Festival
Heidelberg/Mannheim/Ludwigshafen, Germany
October 19-November 10, 2012

Michel Godard and Günter Baby Sommer

The humorous dialogue between tubaist Michel Godard's grave tones and legendary German drummer Gunter Baby Sommer became the leading note of the evening in Karlstorbahnhof (Carol's Door), a well-attended Heidelberg club. The pairing of tuba and drums, as well as that of serpent with spectacular percussion (drumming with towels and cymbals played on the head) gave the performance an alertness and lyrical hue that made the absence of chords almost unnoticeable. The tuba's dusty tones, diminishing in stray sighs, were complemented by velvety melodies on the serpent, which recalled old folk tunes. Strong drum accents sustained by voice evolved into hymns and long forgotten rites.

The Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet

Right from the onset, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire's quintet—also featuring tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown—started rolling in perfect cohesion, like a sonic mill. The dense, intelligent performance of the brass was augmented by the sustained tension brought in from the rhythmic section. Complex harmonic structures provided a constant sonic backdrop from which melodic lines emerged, like trains rushing through a sound tunnel. Densely meshed into the alert polyphony, instrumental lines surfaced from the melodious undercurrent in nervous solos. Akinmusire's high cries mingled with softer tones ebbed into abstract sonorities. His ascending dialogue with Smith brought in a refreshing effect. Brown's dynamic precision moved like a rolling wave upon which Harris' adagios, with classical undertones, wrapped the music in a tender veil.

Contemporary Noise Sextet

Most of the titles played by this sextet, founded in 2006 by brothers Kuba and Bartek Kapsa—on piano and drums, respectively—belonged to Ghostwriter's Joke (Denovali, 2011). Alternating moods and textures, the band put forth a massive performance with spectacular arcs of tension, ranging from minimalism to solemn developments, and from groove to experiment. The balanced interaction of the trumpeter Wojtek Jachna and saxophonist Ireneusz Wojtczak was excellently sustained by bassist Anton Olszewski and the Kapsa brothers. Guitarist Kamil Pater's energetic intercessions alternated deconstructive escalations with melodious shifts, doing justice to the phrase often used to describe this sextet's music: film music without films.

Trio Mediæval featuring Arve Henriksen

Berit Opheim Versto, Anna Maria Friman and Linn Andrea Fuglseth are the three vocalists who, together with trumpter Arve Henriksen, have opened the door to a departed world to let in pure flows of nostalgia. Combining Norwegian folksongs with Gregorian polyphonies, the quartet brought a touch of Christmas and a hue of secret incantation to the elegant Ludwigshafen music chamber. The gracious blending of the voices became a sonic channel leading back to long-cherished traditions. Harmonically complementary, Henriksens' explorations on trumpet, cornet, and keyboard created a perfect instrumental pendant. His well-placed trumpet interventions, and a voice in suave chant or overtones, enhanced the spiritual dimension of the performance while his sampling rendered it spatiality.

Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux' voice alternated dark textures with a well-controlled lyricism: a cutting edge, a tinge of irony, a hint of drama with a sensual touch. Excellently sustained by the quiet drive of her combo—guitarist Jon Herington, keyboardist Gary Versace, bassist Barak Mori and drummer Darren Beckett—the vocalist delivered a meaty performance, spectacularly alternating styles, ranging from bossa nova to blues, from French chanson to boogie, and leading all the way back to traditional jazz scores. Her skillful phrasing, combined with an excellent sense of timing, set the tunes in a new emotional context which, by now, could be described as "the Peyroux mood." Her vocal modulations unfolded from sheer narrative to the lightly atonal—even abstract mannerisms. The richly nuancing and subdued energy of "This is Heaven to Me"—a gracious closing tribute to singer Billie Holiday—lingered in the air long after the lights went off.

Billy Hart 4tet

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