International Jazz Festival Musica Sulle Bocche 2018

Henning Bolte By

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The concert of Italian vibraphonist Pasquale Mirra and Senegalesian-Italian percussionist Dudù Kouatè, later joined by festival director Enzo Favata, then transcended into waning daylight, a glowing sunset and finally finished at fallen darkness—a magical experience par excellence. Pasquale Mirra, known for his collaboration with among others Hamid Drake or the groove masters of Mop Mop, is a highly versatile, much in demand improviser of the younger Italian generation of musicians (see my review here). Dudù Kouatè is part of the current version of the legendary Art Ensemble Of Chicago. The vibrating groove, colorful waves and rustling sounds of this duo of many gifts pervaded and imbued the bay thereby enthralling the audience. Enzo Favata injected his energizing and uplifting horn lines, carrying the music up the rocks and across the water. The music even seemed to influence the mass climb back. It was quite astonishing how people cared for each other on their way over the rocks in the dark.

The site has a legendary status. In 1971 one of the first Italian hippie communes was founded in Cala Grande in Gallura and is presently still inhabited all year by believers. The festival had to work patiently to establish a modus vivendi with the residents to achieve and share a total immersion in the sound and in the beauty of the landscape.

Round about Santa Lucia: Uselli, Cammariere, Maiore/Vicentini

Santa Lucia is the little church with a wonderful square near a hilltop in Santa Teresa. It is a bit remote from the crowded main-square of the town. From the hilltop, you have a view of Santa Teresa's inlet harbor. The three concerts that took place here were astonishing, each in its very own way. Flautist Marco Uselli from Alghero played an utmost euphonious and meditative concert with music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Done with great dedication and care, it was a treasure in its own right.

In the evening popular Italian singer-pianist-songwriter Sergio Cammariere, originating from the southern region of Calabria, samba-ed and united the hearts of his audience with his splendid combo in a richly swinging, undulating journey through his captivating songs. Cammariere's way of singing and merging Italian song with jazz and Latin elements with pianistic bravura is a very specific Italian thing and not existing in other European countries (except maybe in France, to a small extent). Cammariere is an excellent pianist with a characteristic voice and songs that speak to the people as part of a strong unity of rhythm and mood. This way he succeeds elegantly to bring his audience fully into his musical world. He is a welcome guest at jazz festivals in Italy and collaborates—as in Santa Teresa Gallura -a lot with jazz musicians.

Next morning in the church the duo of Maria Vicentini and Salvatore Maiore presented their Mingus World, Vicentini on viola and Maiore on cello. It was revealed as a surprising highlight. In the beginning, still a bit tentative, the essential Mingus dynamics drove upwards, and great interlocking of rhythm and melody, lead and accompaniment unfolded and were intensified with a highly attractive outcome. It ended with a strong rendition of "Fables of Faubus" and then turned into a grandioso finale. Salvatore, originating from Sassari, Sardinia, is a member of the Stefano Battaglia Trio and the Enzo Favata Trio (together with guitarist Marcello Peghin). Maria Vicentini is a classical-based musician that regularly makes crossovers to other kinds of music, including open improvisation. She has collaborated with Frank London, Ted Reichman, Achille Succi, Roberto Dani, Giancarlo Schiaffini and Cuong Vu, among others.

Compassion at Santuario Campestre Di Buoncampo

The sanctuary of the Madonna de Buoncammino, a rural church outside Santa Teresa Gallura, is also a site with a special emanation, a wonderful environment for Cuncordu, the ancient Sardinian tradition of polyphonic singing. It was represented by Cuncordu choir of Castelsardo, comprising the voices of Giovanni Pinna (contra), Pietro Sanna (basso), Stefano Tugulu (voce), Pier Giuseppe Pinna (falsetto), Mariano Sini (falsetto). The term 'choir' might be a bit misleading in this context. The singers stand in circle forming a body of bodies as a strong physical and mental basis for the confluence of voices that melt into each other. The group performed inside the church and outside the church under a big olive tree. It is a very strong, elementary sensation, very earthy and very celestial at the same time. It was again magnificent to experience these voices and this kind of singing. For a while, there was some interest in this kind of polyphony in the upper part of Europe and elsewhere (see above the collaborations with Ornette Coleman and Ernst Reijseger) but it did not continue. Just with the present wave of vocal work, the ancient Sardinian tradition is a quite important point of reference and a source of inspiration. Two-way exchange should happen and be organized.

The next day at the sanctuary was dedicated to migration in a very concrete sense. It was a scenic spoken word performance by a mixed troupe of Galluran actors and African actors with a migration history. The narrative of migration and the narrative of reception and inclusion came together, became interwoven in the staging. It was created in collaboration with Teatri Peregrini Festival, a continuation of the collaboration of Musica Sulle Bocche that started last year. The performance, massively frequented by local visitors, felt very natural, sincere and engaged. It opened a door to everyday reality and connected to it in an imaginative way. It was an element that has been lost in many music festivals or his been substituted by declarations and manifestos. The event could serve as an impulse or even as a model.

Mistral is the master (maistràleor bentu maestru)

It was good luck that the opening-concert was not affected by rough weather conditions, which in the northwest of Sardinia means: taut wind. But, during the next days, the weather situation changed, the wind increased and thwarted planned outdoor concerts. Sites are not protected enough to play and listen to music, plus the rules for public events seem to be quite strict and are obeyed by the local authorities that would not take risks or be flexible. Therefore, the concert of the Danilo Perez Trio was relocated from the church square to a multi-functional hall. Atmospherically it detracted from the charms and liveliness. The same happened to the concert of the Enzo Favata Trio with Trilok Gurtu planned at the Lighthouse at Cape Testa. It was a bit of an irony that the most primary and elementary sound maker and musical inspiration was considered as untamable and interfering too strongly.


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