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Internationales Jazz Festival Münster 2017

Henning Bolte By

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Theater Münster
Münster, Germany
Internationales Jazz Festival 2017
January 6-8, 2017

Münster, city of 300,000 inhabitants, situated in the northern part of German state North Rhine-Westphalia, with 18 million inhabitants the most populous state of Germany, has an ambitious biannual jazz festival now in its 27th year. The northern part of the state with Münster as the center clearly differs from the southern North Rhine part with its old and densely populated Ruhr area and the region of Cologne, the state´s largest city. The area has produced a couple of known jazz musicians as saxophonists Ingrid Laubrock and Jan Klare, drummers Christian Marien and Eva Klesse and guitarist Eberhard Hirt. This three-day festival is held in the local theatre and organized by the cultural department of the city with the support of an organization of private sponsors. The artistic direction has been in the hands of Fritz Schmücker since the foundation of the festival, which provides for a remarkable continuity of esprit. There is a remarkable continuity of artistic direction of the festival that has been done since its foundation by. In the last ten years the festival sold out in just a few days. This also happened this year with a lineup of presenting many young new groups and lacking the usual big names: proof that courage and risk-taking with regard to programming is rewarded and pays off under supportive circumstances.

The music

The number of daily concerts increased from four concerts on Friday to six on Saturday to seven on Sunday. Performing musicians and groups came from a greater diversity of European regions: Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Morocco, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, UK and the US. My personal highlights during this festival were the Swiss-Italian-Finnish unit A NOVEL OF ANOMALY of Andreas Schaerer, Luciano Biondini, Kalle Kalima, Lucas Nigli, the Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quartet from the UK and the unit CIRCLES of French drummer Anne Paceo.

Highlights and Thematics 1 (Friday)

The red-hot combination of Swiss vocalist Andreas Schaerer, Italian accordionist Luciano Biondini, Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima and Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli embodied the surprising, swirling and freely crisscrossing apotheosis of the first festival day. It was defined by the class of these musicians and their driven and flexible interplay. They knew how to adapt their instruments expression to a common purpose with a high degree of spontaneity, bringing about a strong feeling of momentum—a felicitous match of temperaments, energies and signatures, and a convincing entrée.

Captivating in a different way was the reworking of Charles Mingus pieces by the Berlin trio of Silke Eberhard (alto saxophone), Nikolaus Meuser (trumpet) and Christian Marien (drums). By calling their program "I am Three," inspired by the three personality traits of Mingus according to the master's own confession, the threesome put itself in the context with its daring instrumentation. Mingus had great saxophonists (Eric Dolphy, Charlie Mariano, Jackie McLean, JR Monterose, George Adams, Charles McPherson, Wayne Shorter, Book Ervin) as well as trumpeters (Ted Curson, Johnny Coles, Jack Walrath) in his groups but the core of Mingus' music was formed by the unique dynamics of the symbiotic bass-drum tandem of Mingus and Danny Richmond. It was a real challenge to step in with this reduced instrumentation. However, the sound of Mingus' own group is only one reference point. The other one are his strong compositions rooted in a rich tradition. Alto saxophone, trumpet and drums seem a daring choice, but are in first place a choice for each other as musicians, which matters here. So Eberhard/Meuser/Marien now joined the series of Mingus reworking with Hal Willner's Weird Night Mare: Meditations on Mingus (1992) as most prominent example.

The rhythmical intensity of Mingus' music was secured by the two horns taking rhythmical functions. It was in a way a European approach formerly also applied by Django Reinhardt in his large as well as in his small groups. As a consequence now and then the threesome even sounded charmingly 'traditional' in a pre-bebop sense. Mood and melody of the pieces were secured by unison horn lines and especially by Neuser's trumpet introductions of touching beauty. A real something became the rendition of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," which they intoned as an encore. Here even something shone through of Lester Young to whom Mingus dedicated his piece. It would have enriched the concert and kept the tension even higher had this kind of varying detour from the more sober approach appeared earlier.

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