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Jazz in Church Festival 2015

Adriana Carcu By

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Jazz in Church Festival
Bucharest, Romania
Lutheran Church
April 16-19, 2015

The Jazz in Church Festival reaffirmed its call of unconventionality by bringing together artists of most diversified styles and orientations. A subtly assorted lineup consolidated the nascent tradition of open dialog and transgender interplay set forth three years ago. For four days in April the cupola of the Lutheran Church in Bucharest echoed with the unobstructed creativity of the performers and reverberated with the high emotional energy of the performances in a true celebration of improvised music.

Rainer Bruninghaus opened the festival with a piano solo suite made up of his own compositions combined with old jazz tunes in which his conceptual approach was toned down by the right amount of dreaminess. His firm grip on the keys was backed by a submersed tinge of lyricism; the sober and collected scalar ascents built up to well-dosed tension peaks, tempered by harmonic alertness.

Large concerting roots amplified by a strong left hand achieved Baroque roundness; a nervous rustle of keys alternating with wide-paced intervals of rest became a balanced journey among the pearlescent clouds in rosy hues of gray. The tunes floated away carried by the warm air currents into a harmonic whirl that mingled the colors and scents of spring. Intensified by the direct key attacks, the melody rose in a jubilant arch, floated diaphanously, and was then brought to an abrupt, suspended end.

A clarinet solo with Gershwin inflections opened the show of Urlich Drechsler on bass clarinet, and Christoph Cech, piano, on a note of bright melodiousness. The piano joined in finely measured intervals of solitude creating a fluid conjunction with the floating clarinet line. The piano solo rose then with crystalline clarity, harmonized by the grave airflow of the clarinet, emerging into a grave serenade with dramatic heights and diaphanous lulls.

The sober piano line, acquiring a new rhythmical dimension through the energetic left hand sustenance moved in direct complementarity with the melodiousness of the bass clarinet, mellow yet full of vigor. The growing harmonic interaction of the instrumental lines resulted in a journey into large fields of waving green and yellow with round isles of deep red bending in the gentle breeze.

A subtle waltz with a romantic touch dedicated to Drechsler's two sons became a progressive sequencing intensified by modular alternations, a lullaby with tempo largeness transgressed the dream territory with large breaths of peacefulness. "Your Paradise," a piece written by Drechsler for Tord Gustavsen, set out in sax mode with the right ingredients of joyfulness and passion, receding then in a calm solemnity, that became first a whisper, then a sigh.

On the second night, from the beginning of Nils Petter Molvaer's show, as the first sounds filtered by his trumpet became music, a faint golden ray started pouring out of a thin sliver of light at the horizon. As the melodic air flux gained electronic intensity the gray strips of sky became tinged with pink and mauve. A ripple of rising waves flooded the sonic landscape bringing in the light sea breeze and the taste of salt. A fine profusion of trumpet sounds was touching the surface and diminishing again in a torrent of beats.

The amplified sound releases the sound of voices mingled with whirls of tone and a faint rhythmical fluster that grew into an accelerated groove. The trumpet joined the beat creating a perfectly balanced contrast between the raw alertness and the large melodic folds opening into a serene instrumental soliloquy.

The theme -a meditation, a chant, and a prayer -unfolding in wide sheets of white and curls of green poured out of the fluid harmonic fabric with the suggestive expressiveness of a stellar pursuit. From wide tides of silence the dormant beat was waking into a rhythmical frenzy out of which the trumpet rose like the solitary call of a late bird. As it departed the song left behind a transparent sound cloud gradually absorbed by narrowing sliver of light narrowing in the distant darkening horizon.

Eivind Aarset on guitar and electronics, together with Michele Rabbia on drums and percussion, closed the second day of the festival with a show of exquisite instrumental virtuosity unfolding as a sensuous, trance inductive narrative with strong suggestive power.

Subtle sound ripples were coagulating the acoustic energy of the room into crystalline vibrations that lingered for a while, relapsing again into a deep instant of silence. The elongated riffs descended into dense liquid depths to surface again in a fluid graduation of implosive drum rolls. A primeval tumult with organic twinges was emerging from the waters, taking form out of chaos and issuing the harmony out of rhythmical shreds.

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