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Enjoy Jazz Festival 2013

Adriana Carcu By

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A production of Enjoy Jazz Director's Rainer Kern, the trio—Jan Bang, doing live sampling, Claus Boesser-Ferrari on guitar, and Sava Stoianov, trumpet—circumscribed the acoustic domain by integrating dissipated crumbs of sound into the rich rhythmic canopy created by Jan Bang's consummate sampling. An assiduous exploration on the sound valence on the trumpet, taken over by harsh riffs on the guitar, were prolonged into the abstract by the sampling, just to return as rustles of old leaves, sharp gusts of wind, forgotten pan-pipe sighs and bird songs.

The feed-backed balance plunged into an abysmal conglomerate, filtered again by the subtle sound processing. The trumpet and the guitar united in angular tonalities with balladic hints, aerial distances, long breaths and singular touches of strings, creating a segmented spatiality to be recomposed into exquisite murmurs and wails.

The arid plunges of the trumpet into Balkan themes with abrupt exits, backed by harsh guitar slaps culminating in a frenzy of sound, were met by exquisite electronic mastery rounding the edges, smoothing the abrasive textures, soothing the spirits.

Youn Sun Nah & Ulf Wakenius

Youn Sun Nah, visiting the festival for the third time, brought along the same ethereal freshness of voice, refined by the deepness of register and subtlety of pitch that define a fully accomplished artist today. The show started with Ulf Wakenius' homage to Ennio Moriccone and Egberto Gismonti in a potpourri of virtuous exactness and emotional refinement of expression. "Hurt," a piece from the recently released album Lento, sung in airy intervals and strong adagios that gradually diminished in whispers, installed the serene mystery that enfolds the vocalist's shows.

Wakenius' "Momento Magico" revealed the full measure of vocal and instrumental complexity of the two artists. The alternation of ascending ska successions with lyrical modulation and high-pitched opera hints, were augmented by fluid guitar riffs which gave the performance new and unexpected depths. The voice improvisation, merging together jazz techniques with Korean tones and vibrant blues phrasing, built a beautifully tensioned musical arch of incredible ambitus that ranged all the way from deep breath to crystal-clear high singing.

On the wailing cadence of "Lament," the voice grew into an intense cry of liberation to be followed immediately by the suave inflections of "Arirang"—a piece described by the artist as "Korean blues"—sung with clear tinges of angelic repose. "Same Girl" closed a show of deeply felt musicality where grace met passion. Same girl but always new.

Anouar Brahem Quartet

Anouar Brahem's show closed the festival with tunes of gentle firmness, drawing their self-inductive serenity from the essence of the Oriental spirit. The vibrant sounds of the quartet—Khaled Yassine, darbouka, bendir; Bjoern Meyer, bass; and Klaus Gessing, bass clarinet—commingled jazz metrics with Tunisian hues and undulated into a harmony that, spirited by the inner breath like a pneuma, acquired airy harp inflections.

The oud was carrying a rueful melody of yearning, love and sorrow, pure and passionate at the same time. The bass clarinet's lingering clusters of sound called forth the soothing tenderness of the wind gently blowing away the grains of sand in golden swirls. The reverberating rhythmicity of the bass/percussion section in harmonic conjunction with its quiet vibes created a fluid sonic frame for the moving accents of the oud, which was returning to the first note as to a pole of dreaminess.

Anouar Brahem brought to the Evangelic Church of Mannheim the gentle floating of the desert breeze, the calm dips of the dunes, and the tender roundness of the waves, in a show that was reaching across cultures and beliefs to unite in the pure joy of music.

The graceful swings of dance and the soft echoes of sound lingered in the German dome long after the show was over, like the steady sway of a departing caravan.

Enjoy Jazz Encore—Lizz Wright, Gregory Porter

After a short guitar intro, Lizz Wright came onstage dressed in red and barefoot, like an ancient goddess of song. Her deep, dark voice carrying a long history of love and suffering, of joy and oppression, started flowing majestically like a river that passes the waters of time. The rich texture and the dramatic inflections were enhanced by the warm smoothness of tone, reminding of a velvet scarf sliding upon bare ground.

The band—Nicholas D'Amato, e-bass; Robin Macatangay, guitar; Marvin Sewell, guitar; and Brannen Temple, drums—sustaining a discreet transition of moods, from rock innuendos with percussion inserts to the quiet inflections of soft ballads and chants—offered the perfect backdrop for a sensuous show that moved on with the naturalness of a walk on the beach at dusk.

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