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ENJOY JAZZ International Festival for Jazz and More 2017

Henning Bolte By

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ENJOY JAZZ International Festival for Jazz and More
October 17-20, 2017

During fall Enjoy Jazz is the common thread running through the urban Rhine-Neckar-region in southwestern Germany. Unlike the fast-forward conveyor belt of musical acts whizzing past usually experienced at many jazz festivals, Enjoy Jazz covers a period of six weeks in October and November and takes place in five cities in two German federal states (Baden- Württemberg and Rhineland Palatinate) and more than 20 venues. The main hubs are the university city of Heidelberg on the river Neckar, the headquarters of the festival, and the twin cities of Mannheim, on the right bank of the Rhine, and Ludwigshafen (left bank), a main part of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Area with a population of some 2.4 million people.

Considering the festival's long duration, a fraction of the multitude of concerts has to be chosen to report on. The chosen slice offered a rich palette of diversity: a group of a well-known Berlin drummer digging into electronic turbulences, a Brazilian—Portuguese guitar-vocal duo, a Norwegian pianist with a meditative solo-recital in a special concert place, an Austrian-American quintet in a rococo theatre, and a female Japanese pianist from Amsterdam playing Armenian music collaborating with a modern dance company from Germany. Two of the five concerts took place in industrial town Ludwigshafen, another two in Mannheim, a city of a rich cultural heritage and architecture and one in the small town of Schwetzingen in the neighborhood of Mannheim and Heidelberg:

Eric Schaefer & The Shredz (Ludwigshafen, Das Haus)—October 17, 2017
Egberto Gismonti & Maria João (Ludwigshafen, Das Haus)—October 18, 2017
Bugge Wesseltoft (Mannheim, Engelhorn department store)—October 19, 2017
Wolfgang Muthspiel Quintet (Schwetzingen, Rococo Theater)—October 20, 2017
Keiko Shichijo / La_Trottier Dance Ciollective (Mannheim, EinTanzHaus)—October 20, 2017


Drummer Eric Schaefer, known from his role in Germany's first order piano trios of Michael Wollny and Joachim Kühn as well as from cult band Johnny La Marmara (with Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima and American bassist Chris Dahlgren), is a genre and style provoking musician extracting and conflating elements from quite divergent musical fields to create his very own edgy brew. He himself calls it the game of playfully reassembling and reintegrating heterogeneous elements from popular music in order to tell his own story. His latest excursion is a new German-Japanese group with legendary clarinetist Kazutoki Umezu, koto-player Naoka Kikuchi and bassist John Eckhardt, that recently released the album Kyoto, Mon Amour.

The Shredz unites Schaefer with trumpeter John-Dennis Renken_tp, keyboarder Volker Meitz and bassist John Eckhardt. The instrumental line-up and dynamics seem to have some similarities with the groups of Nils Petter Molvaer but the differences appear to be much bigger at second sight. Volker Meitz is an amiable playful tinkerer of his own sound worlds, John-Dennis Renken is a versatile trumpet-voice coordinating/balancing acoustic and electronic sound in solid, strong ways. Bassist John Eckhardt revealed as the rumbling man of straight and strong deployment (nicht kleckern, sondern klotzen) loving to work to the max. He was the one to take people up and beyond.

Bandleader Schaefer is keen on roller-coaster maneuvers, sudden turnabouts and accelerations. At times the four voices even circled like a ufo-quadrille. Through the concert well-built tension and release curves ran, peaking especially in "Bliss," the title piece of The Shredz' latest album. During the concert the compositional outline of pieces functioned as a ramp to launch from and to navigate, to weave a lively, moment-specific narrative from. The group was in close concordance with the dedicated audience in Das Haus, the Ludwigshafen venue. For me personally the shredding could have been a bit more shreddy. The group concluded with a great dub-reggae inflected piece "Nietzsche in Disguise" and an understated "Lohengrin" (after Richard Wagner) as encore (see slide show).



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