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Enjoy Jazz: Mannheim, Germany, October 2-November 18, 2011, Week 5-7

Adriana Carcu By

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The sonic matrix, bubbling like ancestral magma, was pierced at intervals by explosions of sheer energy marked by Kaspar Rast's down beats in conjunction with Andi Pupato's spectacular percussion effects, gravely augmented by Sha's bass clarinet. The result was a densely agglomerated concoction emerging repeatedly into a new sound dimension. The musical phrasing acquired a more incisive, and less sequential, quality, a highly dynamic structure that was underlined visually by blue light flashes permeating the eyelids.

Nik Bärtsch's alienated effects on piano and Rhodes, augmented by Thomy Jordi's energetic bass line, were controlling and channeling the flood tide, potentiating at the same time the symphonic complexity of the performance. With Ronin there is no such thing as a single instrument or a solo performance; all throughout the show the band moved forward in compact progress, with the graceful purposefulness of the legendary Japanese warrior.

Enrico Rava —Tribe featuring Gianluca Petrella

Enrico Rava's trumpet opened the evening with a stormy gust, backed by the accelerating groove of the rhythm section, to slide into an energetic dialogue with Gianluca Petrella's trombone; a felicitous conjunction that would dominate the show.

Giovanni Guidi on piano, Gabriele Evangelista on bass and Fabrizio Sferra on drums offered a solid point of rhythmical reference, emerging from a calm groove into explosive instrumental interventions that gave the performance a high degree of compactness.

Rava's characteristic sober notes, with just a touch of tenderness, emulating Miles Davis in style rather than in tone, represented a challenging creative input for Petrella, who augmented, even aggravated the trumpet sonorities by adding to them a salty, untamed edge. The firm, dominating lead of the trumpet and the tones were carried over by the trombone, fading then in stray echoes.

Disjunctive sonorities, meeting in a single point of harmony and then parting again, merging at times—were reminiscent of a compact brass section moving in unison, like two fighters clenched in an ardent competition of tones.

Minibus Pimps remixed by Sidsel Endresen and Erik Honoré

The PUNKT Festival performances, already part of the Enjoy Jazz tradition, illustrate in a most eloquent way the tight connection of the two festivals. This year a group of PUNKT musicians, also including Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset, had been invited for two evenings to resample the show of Minibus Pimps, and do a reading from Psycho performed by the German actor Matthias Brandt accompanied by pianist Jens Thomas. The re-sampling sessions were performed in separate rooms immediately after the original shows, whereby the atmosphere of tensioned expectation was increased Jan Bang's shortly announced unavailability.

Minibus Pimps, consisting of John Paul Jones and Helge Sten on laptop, brought a sound experience made of spherical harmonies where the vibrant flow was permeated by Jones's guitar and e-violin interventions, as if life music was entering the planetary sonic background in search of new forms of expression. The show left the feeling of a primeval journey towards the origins of sound, a highly pressured stellar symphony pierced by solitary picks of chords. The consequent reaction was of cheers and booing alike.

The dark, empty room on the second floor where Erik Honoré and Sidsel Endresen continued the performance was the perfect choice for a musical experience that was approaching a different layer of perception. As the room filled, Honoré's sound processing was gaining an airy, ethereal dimension, as in a dreamy pursuit of catching the sound in full flight.

Sidsel Endresen's precise modulations of the newly-born sounds were like cresting waves of lyricism that touched their essence for a moment, before being released back into the abyss of their origins, while her hands moved in a choreography of playing piano and choosing chords as if grasping the ancestral harmonies. As storms of sampling took over, the vocal discourse became discontinuous, re-inventing the human musical language, probing its limits in order to meet the processed sound midway through a natural process of voice digitalization. The surreal performance left one with the feeling of having trodden a virgin musical territory.

Sonny Rollins Quintet


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