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Enjoy Jazz Festival 2013

Enjoy Jazz Festival 2013
Adriana Carcu By

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Enjoy Jazz Festival
Heidelberg/Mannheim/Ludwigshafen, Germany
October 2-November 18, 2013

Enjoy Jazz is an event that can be attended in its entirety only by the lucky residents of the metropolitan area located in the Rhine-Neckar Triangle—and that for the simple reason that it runs for seven weeks. The good news is that all through the month of October and most of November, any weekend spent in the three locations—Heidelberg, Mannheim or Ludwigshafen—would make up for the loss through the finely tuned variety and the freshness of the visited shows. The Enjoy Jazz Festival was launched in full force 15 years ago and has continued to grow ever since, becoming one of Europe's best addresses for "Jazz and Other Things."

Besides putting up an illustrious lineup, the festival has become the epitome of high musical standards, irrespective of gender, style, and age of the participants. This year's edition presented 68 musical experiences, featuring long established artists like John Scofield, Carla Bley, Anouar Brahem, Joshua Redman or Brad Mehldau; the exponents of Nordic Jazz inNils Petter Molvaer, Jan Bang, Bugge Wesseltoft or Jaga Jazzist; regulars like Nik Baertsch's Ronin, artist-in-residence Michael Wollny, as well as a growing contingent of excellent young musicians like Tigran Hamasyan, Arun Ghosh, Snarky Puppy, Agnes Obel or Baths. Here are some of the highlights:

Tigran—Shadow Theater

Tigran Hamasyan, at pianos and percussion, was joined by his Band Red Hail—Areni doing vocals, Sam Minaie on bass, Charles Altura on guitar, and Arthur Hiatek, drums—in a show that began like the eruption of a volcano. After the piano's intro, reminding one of rain's long fingers sliding down the window, a compact sonic mass started carrying away mixed measures with vibrant accents, grave breaks and dramatic rhythm alternances led by the steady progression of the voice. A playful interaction of the piano's spectacular pitch plunges, with the well sustained bass/drums structure, moved into an urgent sonic conglomeration with dodecaphonic heights.

The voice, perfectly integrated in the sound texture at first, acquired mediaeval inflections oscillating between sweet diminuendos and keen attacks on the note, while the piano-bass tension was reaching symphonic solemnity. A melodious folk song was followed by a ballad, where the lyrical preamble was segmented into a solemn cadence, unified by the ample phrasing which rounded the rhythmical edges.

The archaic hints were decomposed by the long guitar tones with atonal descents augmented into impetuous symphonic sequences, and jazzified by mixed bars and counterpoint attacks. In the final Georgian folk song, the grave accents rendered by the voice duo of Hamasyan and Areni moved from the gentle chant into an all-engulfing invocation fueled by the dramatic Slavic spirit.

Nils Petter Molvaer & Moritz von Oswald

Three men are sitting in a darkened scene, two of them behind large desks, one in front with his trumpet. He raises the trumpet to his lips and the sound emerges as from the depths of consciousness, invoking ancient myths and legends. Gradually the electronic sound awakens with a subdued pressure that glides into the present just to depart again into the timeless space of rites. The obsessive electro-beat controls the mood, the trumpet does the dreaming.

Nils Petter Molvaer & Moritz von Oswald, with Laurens von Oswald live mixing, brought to the Alte Feuerwache in Mannheim a forceful show of implosive dynamics that oscillated between the crudeness of primary pulsing and the segmental concreteness of the club beat. The high-powered electronic congress was at times receding into rhythmical pulsations just to allow the re-emerging of the trumpet in elegant sound arches, voice loops and theme quotes.

The multi-layered, almost tactile quality of the texture created sound platforms and corridors out of which the minimalistic inserts and whips of trumpet sound were pushing the groove into a engulfing rhythm frenzy reminiscent of ritual dances. The immediate sonic impact of the performance, based on Molvaer and Oswald's recently released album 1/1, was tremendously increased by the inner dynamics of instrumental mastery and inspired creativity at work.

At the end of an electrifying show, Nils Petter Molvaer returned for a solo and brought to the dark hall a light summer morning with dewy meadows reflecting the new sun, scintillating silver spider webs flying in the cool air, vibrating with the energy of a new beginning.

Jan Bang, Claus Boesser-Ferrari, Sava Stoianov

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