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French Connections - The Jazzdor Experience

Henning Bolte By

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Jazzdor is a French festival with two annual editions. The main part is held in the Strasbourg area (France) in November and the other one in Berlin (Germany) in June. Both editions present a considerable number of bilateral and multilateral collaborations; an essential part of the festival's philosophy and policy.

The Strasbourg festival is the older part and home of the organization. The Strasbourg festival covers two weeks in November, collaborating with the neighboring German city of Offenburg that also offers a stage for some bigger concerts held. The festival presents two or three groups a day, four groups incidentally. This year's 32nd edition took place November 10-24. This article covers the five-day stretch of November 14-18.

Gardening and French satellites

As a festival, Jazzdor is a place of cultivation: a gradual process of cultivating music of individual musicians in fitting, developmental, exploring and challenging combinations. It is also a place for the cultivation of different kinds of music in contrastive or complementing interconnections. It is a gardening thing, complementing deeper rooted plants with younger plants offering new colors, textures etc.. The task is entrusted to musical master gardener Philippe Ochem and his proven team.

This year offered a vast variety of vegetation, sensuous ensembles of plants, bushes, trees and lawns. During my four day's attendance there were no less than nine different but interconnected types of vegetation as the area of percussion discussion (Edward Perraud / Julian Sartorius), pianoscapes (Eve Risser, Roberto Negro, Colin Vallon Trio, Dieter Ilg Trio), the blooming scrape space area (Punkt.Vrt.Plastik, Illegal Crowns, Louis Sclavis/Benjamin Moussay) and the roar + soar place of the duo of Mette Rasmussen and Chris Corsano, and The Thing.

There were also the primal grounds of Sidsel Endresen and Stian Westerhus, the trancextension of Daniel Erdmann Velvet Revolution + Cyril Atef and the time l(e)aps of Post K as well as the strungulation of the double quartet of IXI and Melanoia. Finally the audience could enjoy the orchestral maneuvers of Airelle Besson leading the Euroradio Jazz Orchestra 2017.

The program is set up in a clear long-term developmental perspective to stimulate exploration, discovery and growth. On the one hand it is built around French satellites, French groups with guesting musicians from outside or French musicians guesting in groups from outside. On the other hand musicians and groups that made/make a relevant/important contribution to developments in the jazz field are presented like this year's vocalist Sidsel Endresen or guitarist Mary Halvorson.

The French satellites in this part of the festival were Benoit Delbecq (p) playing with New York group Illegal Crowns, Edward Perraud (dr) in a duo with young Swiss drummer Julian Sartorius, Cyril Atef (dr) and Theo Ceccaldi (vln) in German saxophonist Daniel Erdmann's group Velvet Revolution, Patrice Héral (dr) playing as part of the trio of German bassist Dieter Ilg, Airelle Besson (tr) leading the Euroradio Jazz Orchestra 2017 and Quatuor IXI (string quartet) playing with German drummer Dejan Terzic's group Melanoia.

Areas of gardening

I will walk along the promenade through the festival's different areas of gardening and cultivation; not in in chronological order, but in another order somehow making sense starting in the percussion discussion area.

Percussion discussion

Sartorius and Perraud, drummers from different generations, are both known for their astonishing creative use of a vast variety of sound sources and materials they produce music from. They perpetuate the line of Max Roach's percussion discussion and the Pierre Favre Singing Drums Ensemble with Favre, Fredy Studer, Paul Motian and Nana Vasconcelos and last year's drum duo of Hamid Drake and female French-Japanese drummer Yuko Oshima.

The doubling of instruments in general opens up a great space to give shape in lively interaction with the doubling of drums as maybe one of the richest variants. During their duo set at CEAAC, Sartorius and Perraud traversed a rich, thrilling and entertaining percussive landscape, finely balancing groove-emphasizing parts and vast orchestrated tinkling, ringing, crackling sound varieties. They gave a wonderful example of how to enliven a diversity of materials, make those vibrate, talk and sing—a true enjoyment.

Primal grounds

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