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Garana Jazz Festival 2014

Adriana Carcu By

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Kimmo Pohjonen—The Finnish accordionist, sustained by Tuomas Norvio, sound design and Antti Kuivalainen light design, brought to the Wolf's Meadow—the clearing in the wood where the festival is taking place each year—a performance of astounding vitality, combining the classical tradition with folk heritage, distilled in powerful compositions which were accompanied by a spectacular stage show. From the solemnness and amplitude of Bach chorales to the ancient resonances drawn by means of percussion from the accordion bellows, the performance was an act of virtuosity exploiting the full capacity of the instrument and displaying to the fullest the artist's capacity to perform a staggering show. The use of electronic devices altered its traditional sonority bringing out tones of prodigious expressiveness and deep harmonic richness while the voice of the musician, calling up old rites and incantations, enhanced the impact and expressiveness of the performance to the maximum, while at the same time setting free the inner musicality.

The Crimson Projekct—With two basses, two guitars and a double set of drums the Crimson Project brought to the festival the largest group of musicians, uniting three of the legendary band King CrimsonAdrian Belew, guitar; Tony Levin, bass; Pat Mastelotto, drums—with three younger musicians—Markus Reuter, guitar; Tobias Ralph, drums; Julie Slick, bass—in a superlative lineup. The musicians performed pieces from the 1980s to mid-1990s, alternating the typical thunderous rock sound with softer tunes played in a balladic manner. The interpretation, in the best progressive rock tradition, added influences from jazz and electronic music to the strong rock base, re-creating the intellectual, dreamy atmosphere which gave King Crimson its specific sound and leaving, at the same time, places for improvisations in a contemporary manner.

Sunday, July 13

Stian Westerhus—The show of the iconoclastic and highly intuitive Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus seemed to absorb the ancient environment of the Romanian Carpathians he has been inhabiting for three days and to render it back to the audience in a "processed" form. The dream started with a whisper, a sigh and a tear, when a call from the past broke in—a menace, a thunder. The abyss opened then to engulf the present and bring out the music in its essentials. The sounds were doubled by echo and started to pulsate in the rhythm of the heart. The waves rolled in fast-growing sound streams that were scintillating with energy. A clock tick started measuring the distance between the stars, the depth of the ocean and the length of a note, the amplitude diminished and the sound became silence, to rise again in pulsating undulations as the bow touched the chords. Hard reverb riffs were sliding in coils, perforating the sound canvas which fluttered with the forceful whiffs of a departing train. Tall slaps forced together sounds belonging to separate spheres and times, carrying along the history of being. The sighs turned into loud wails loaded with the burden of existence, the waters quieted down to follow the flow of life that brought in the melody.

JazzyBit—Performing at the festival for a second year in a row, the young musicians—Teodor Pop, piano, Hammond, synthesizer; Mihai Moldoveanu, bass; and Szabó Csongor-Zsolt, drums, percussion—made again the proof of a solid musical grounding providing a substantial basis for the creative improvisation style. The lightness of the show, residing in the height of the piano chords and the specific rhythmicity, brought in a Caribbean atmosphere alimented by the bass and drums in a well timed concordance, allowing for imaginative variations in intensity and depth. The free launch on the piano keys with gliding harmonies, which withdrew at intervals just to reemerge in spectacular peak, charged the characteristic playfulness without altering the well structured melodic design of the pieces.

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