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Jazz In Marciac 2022

Jazz In Marciac 2022

Courtesy Jazz in Marciac

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Le Chapiteau, L'Astrada, Jgo
Jazz in Marciac
Marciac, Southern France
July 22 to August 6, 2022

The 43rd annual Jazz in Marciac festival welcomed a quarter million concert visitors to the 13th century French village of Marciac (population 1,247). Jazz in Marciac comes late and runs long in the European tour season, which makes the nightmare of scheduling top-of-the-line musicians a little easier. Here is a capsule look at the highlights from the 2022 edition.

Diana Krall

The first festival evening featured Diana Krall making another stop on her European tour, as previously reported from Jazz à Juan Les Pins, 2022. A pure jazz singer of standards, Krall has bridged the gap taking jazz classics into the mainstream popular market with her unique voice, phrasing and piano skills

You Rascal Band

Restaurants, vendors and shops filled the main square in Marciac, and there was a stage where the You Rascal Band played the sad, dragging New Orleans dirge, "St. James infirmary." The quintet went upbeat with "When The Saints Go Marching In" to a clapping, cheering crowd. On drums, Kévin L'hermite and Maxence Basselet on six-string guitar both agreed they play the music because it makes people happy. Leader Théophile Parent sings in a Louis Armstrong wet gravel voice and freely admits that the group have no intellectual pretensions in their music.

New Power Generation

New Power Generation (NPG) was the support band for Prince for 23 years before his demise. They recorded his last album HITnRUN Phase Two together (streamed to Tidal, 2015). Band members come and go as their careers fluctuate, but at the heart of the group is singer MacKenzie, gyrating and pouring all of his efforts into the performance. As well as funk, Prince also had an interest in rap, delivered with funk rhythms and instrumentation. Tony M included foul language in his rap, like cheap shots set in urban poetry. Prince also wrote music for other performers, including "Nothing Compares 2U" recorded by Sinéad O'Connor which was reproduced by NPG. Of course, the band closed out their performance with "Purple Rain," milking every last note for a roaring standing ovation.

Nile Rodgers & Chic

Guitarist Nile Rodgers & CHIC and bassist Bernard Edwards formed their band together, which for this performance included two keyboards, drums, trumpet, tenor saxophone, and two female singers who flanked Rodgers on the frontline. Rodgers was dapper, wearing his white hat over long dreadlocks, a black jacket and silver trousers. In addition to performing, Rodgers and Edwards made their contribution to the disco scene by writing and producing songs for other people, including "I'm Growing Up" and "Upside-down" for Diana Ross, "We Are Family" for Sister Sledge, "Material Girl" and "Like a Virgin" for Madonna.

Bedmakers at L'Astrada

L'Astrada is a modern 500-seat theatre with air-conditioning and a superb sound system. Artistic Director Fanny Pagès tailors the program to run parallel to Jazz in Marciac during the festival but takes a more avant-garde musical view giving performing space to musicians out of the commercial mainstream. Bedmakers is an unusual name for a quartet on a mission. Robin Finker played saxophone and clarinet, Mathieu Werchowski was on double bass, Dave Kane the violin and Fabien Duscombs the drums. There was an Irish brogue in the voice of Werchowski, and his colleagues were French. The Bedmakers began with "Tribute To An Imaginary Folk Band" on clarinet with a mystical quality and a rumbling rhythm section. The violin played until Finker changed to the tenor saxophone, then the violin was pizzicato with rim shots from the drums. They picked up a marching beat with a military undertone which morphed into an Irish jig. Under a blue wash of lights, they played "Jardin des Amours" ("Garden of Love") and moved along to a piece of Irish gypsy music titled "Georgia." Bass and saxophone were playing in unison when the violin sawed in. Together, they repeated jaunty folk phrases. An extended violin solo followed against a background drone from bass and saxophone together with faint bells from the drums. Avant-garde jazz techniques met ancient Irish folk content in a disparate mixture of styles and music.

Theo Croker Quintet at L'Astrada

At sound check, Theo Croker was satisfied with the balance. However, when they took the stage, they continuously made fine adjustments. Croker is an excellent trumpet player surrounded by good musicians: Mike King on piano and keyboard, Eric Wheeler on acoustic bass, and Michael Shekwoaga Ode, who was very sharp on drums in two significant solo sections. Louis Shungu was on the effects board. Following riffs on the rhodes piano from King, Croker intoned breathy repetitive trumpet phrases, and then he thoughtfully chanted the words of "Where Will You Go." Croker announced they would play "Jazz is Dead" from Love Quantum (Masterworks/Sony, 2022). The word jazz has had so many incarnations it may be exhausted, but thankfully reports that the music is dead are exaggerated. That aside, after an excellent trumpet opener, Croker began to sing/speak poetry. He later used the same technique to expound on philosophical concepts like freedom. Croker is on a broad voyage of discovery in his music. He packed his bag and left the stage, the other musicians following one by one until Ode was left drumming to a gentle fade.

Melody Gardot

In the evening Melody Gardot made a stop in Marciac on her European tour, as reported from Nice Jazz Festival, 2022. The 6,000-seat Marciac temporary building, Le Chapiteau, covered the entire village football field and sold out completely.

Jeff Beck

Gardot was followed by Jeff Beck with a disguised mystery guest. The guest was not introduced but played the guitar and sang "Isolation" from John Lennon and a Jimi Hendrix tune "Little Wing." Unsurprisingly, the mystery guest was revealed as film star Johnny Depp.

Anthony Strong and the Barcelona Jazz Orchestra

Barcelona Jazz Orquestra played orchestral arrangements even though much of their music came from the Big Band era. The ingredients are for a big band or orchestra are similar, but the arrangements were orchestral as advertised. Anthony Strong sang every piece while leading the orchestra from the piano. The orchestra began with "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and followed that with Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek," written for Fred Astaire in the movie Top Hat as a romantic ballad. The orchestra delivered it fast, changing the original structure and sentiment. The same process was applied to everything from Strong's gospel composition "Till it Moves You" to the sultry Latin "Whatever Lola Wants" as the orchestra put their stamp on selections from the Great American Songbook, the music of Ray Charles and Nat King Cole

James Blunt

After his service as a captain in the Lifeguards regiment of the British Army, James Blunt turned to music and released the blockbuster Back to Bedlam (Atlantic Records, 2004), which included "Goodbye My Lover," "Wise men," "You're Beautiful," and "Goodbye Jimmy" among the tracks. Blunt worked at his performance, playing electric and acoustic guitars, piano and ukulele. Bedlam (Bethlehem) was once a mental institution in South London, where the Imperial War Museum stands now. Blunt, supported by his long-time band John Garrison on bass, Christopher Pemberton on keyboards Paul Sayer on guitar and Karl Brazil on drums, performed in his plaintive voice, which tells the story in a monotone and reaches up to a higher register for emphasis. His voice naturally creates pathos in his work, reinforcing the inherent sadness of the content.

Rafael Aguilla Quartet at Jgo

Not all the good music in Marciac is played on the main stages with lighting and sound systems. There are stages in restaurants where accomplished professional musicians play acoustically. Rafael Aguilla is a composer and tenor saxophonist from Havana, Cuba. He was joined by Thibaud Soulas on the double bass, Stéphane Adsout on Gresch drums, and Leonardo Monton on a Yamaha piano. They began with an original composition by Aguilla, titled "Nation," and moved on to another "Recomenza" ("Start Over"), a lyrical piece which contained undertones of Cuban music without committing to Latin rhythms. Monton played a long and intricate piano solo with attack. There followed two original works written by drummer Adsout, "The Art Of Four" and a slower, more gentle "An Uber With U." There was good original music played well with dinner.

Chilly Gonzalez

The French-Canadian "antichrist" of jazz, CHILLY GONZALES, arrived on stage dishevelled, unshaven, wearing his bathrobe over underwear. The nuances of his dry humor worked well in French. Gonzales was joined by Stella Le Page playing the 'cello with great drive, her blonde hair flailing. Yannick Hiwat played the violin and Joe Flory was featured on drums. They were joined by singer Anita Blay who intoned "Time After Time" gracefully. When Gonzales finished with all the antics, crowd surfing, and rap, the remaining truth is that he is a classically trained pianist with a surreal sense of the ridiculous.

Lakecia Benjamin at L'Astrada

At sound check in L'Astrada, Lakecia Benjamin, a native New Yorker, was joined by Taber Gable on the piano, Ivan Taylor on the bass and E.J. Strickland on the drums. They ripped through a couple of tunes with great energy and cohesion, stopping for minor adjustments, in preparation for their performance of Pursuance: The Coltranes (Ropeadope, 2020) both in the theater and live on France's national radio, France Inter. The album is a homage to the work and lives of both John and Alice Coltrane.

Christian Sands

Christian Sands opened with a raucous beginning to "Sonar," which quieted into an exceptional bass solo from Yasushi Nakamura with Ryan Sands on drums. Released as a single, "Sonar" is now featured on Be Water (Mack Avenue, 2020). Sands was playing an extremely grand Fazioli piano favored by some musicians for its consistency. The trio moved along to the repeated phrases of "Be Water I" and another startling bass solo accompanied by mallets on the drums and cymbals. In Thelonious Monk's "Night Blue," Sands and Nakamura picked through the melodic theme together, leading to an extended drum solo accompanied by touches on the piano. Sands turned to Duke Ellington for his next piece, "Star-Crossed Lovers," a Shakespearean phrase succinctly describing the plight of Romeo and Juliet. Some "birdsong" came from an electronic keyboard, and the magic of Ellington's phrasing and style joined the excellence of Sands' playing. Nakamura took over the theme in another show of brilliance on the bass, while some inventive drum work led them into a short blues section as the birds took flight to fade the finish. A stunning piece of collaboration both on stage and in history.

Herbie Hancock

After 50 years of making music, starting with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock remains one of the heavy-hitters on the European tour circuit. He began by taking fragments of music he would play later in the performance and amalgamating them into an overture. Opening with the synthesizer, Hancock set the scene to describe a lifetime of pushing boundaries. Terence Blanchard changed the tone, stepping up with his full-weight gold-plated Monette RAJA trumpet and, with screaming notes, blew the electronics away to take them into a classy funk groove. Hancock was back behind his favorite Favioli piano when Lionel Loueke took a guitar solo, singing along in an African click language. The following piece was Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," arranged by Blanchard, who has arranged and performed the music for more than 50 movies. They played "Actual Proof," which Hancock recorded with the Headhunters, and moved on to a 1978 recording on the Sunlight album, "Come Running To Me," which Hancock sang into a Vocorder-a voice synthesiser. Towards the end of the performance, Hancock took up a Roland piano guitar, once again pushing the boundaries of technology and music in a display of half a century in the musical avant-garde.

Yom at L'Astrada

Clarinettist Yom began by explaining that his performance would be a collective meditation on an upward trend. It was to be one continuous piece of music for the whole performance in the same way that he recorded Célébration (Komos 2021) with pianist Leo Jassef. The piano began with a very light touch, and then Yom joined in playing a long continuous, slowly rising crescendo with Indian musical influences. Passing the apex, the duo returned to quieter phrasing, now influenced by Peruvian themes. Yom, wearing a long black tunic, paced from one foot to the other as they began the climb up another peak with the inevitable trough waiting on the other side.

Rhoda Scott's Ladies Band

Rhoda Scott played her Hammond B3 organ from the 1960s, which may seem outdated, but the instrument is a proper organ with two keyboards and bass foot pedals which gives a particular sound with echoes of the AME church where her musical career began. She played barefoot as always. Airelle Besson played the trumpet, Sophie Alour played the tenor saxophone with assured style, Celine Bonacina played the big baritone saxophone, requiring effort and technique to blow that low. Lisa Cat-Berro and Geraldine Laurent both played alto saxophone, and there were two drummers Anne Paceo, and Julie Saury who is a regular with the band. Stage left were two drum kits, in the centre the Hammond and on the right the brass. They played a Cat-Berro composition, "Golden Age," passing the solo from one of the brass members to the other. Belgian David Linx, joined the ladies to sing "I've Got The World On a String." Paceo gave a spirited drum solo, then fell back in unison with Saury to return to the tune. At the end of their performance, the audience called them back, and they played an animated version of "What I Say," including echo shouts with the audience.

Ibrahim Maalouf

Trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf mounted his homage to Henri Salvador, the Caribbean-French comedian and singer whose wife Catherine was in the audience. Salvador famously recorded "Le Blouse du Dentiste" ("The Dentist's Jacket, or the Dentist's Blues, in a clever play on words) with Quincy Jones and his orchestra and performed the tune with Ray Charles. With an 18-piece orchestra behind Maalouf and David Linx singing, this felt like a Las Vegas production, which, sadly, the star could not attend.

Émile Parisien

Emile Parisien led his sextet on alto saxophone with Theo Croker on trumpet beside him. Manu Codija did some inventive solo guitar work, and Roberto Negro composed and played the piano. Joe Martin had the bass and Nasheet Waits was on drums. In "JoJo," Parisien was circular breathing to keep up the torrent of notes he wanted to play. Croker played an extended slower solo to anchor the tune while still getting in some fast phrases. In "Méménto," Roberto Negro began with his hands inside the piano case plucking the strings, while Parisien delivered a slow smokey section with Croker on the trumpet. Codija joined them and went away into a solo using his finger slide. Another torrent of notes came from the piano with Negro hammering the Steinway with arms and palms.

Avishai Cohen trio

Avishai Cohen came to the forefront of concert performance with Chick Corea and has since enhanced his reputation for vibrancy and expression in his trio. Cohen doesn't say much, and he involves his audience with the intensity of his playing. He has been working with his pianist Elchin Shirinov from Azerbaijan for four years. The new arrival in the trio is sparkling young drummer Roni Kaspi who feels her way around the drums intuitively with her eyes fastened on Cohen, reading his every intention. In her solo, she went off and on the beat, with varied pauses between taps, but that was just the fuse of the firecracker. When it exploded, sticks and cymbals went flying, but Kaspi remained controlled, sitting on the edge of her high seat, entirely focused. There was no drama from her or Shirinov, who remained implacable. Cohen began the title track from Shifting Sands (Razdaz Recordz, 2022). He reached down into the heart of the bass with his bow to draw out the lowest notes, then switched to the highest, bringing a rare smile to the faces of his colleagues. Cohen went on to sing in Hebrew and Spanish, and a moving "Motherless Child" in English, playing both the bass and the piano. There was an intimacy in his voice which touched the audience in this classic performance from a world-class trio.

Ayo

Ayo was born in Germany and now lives in New York. She was joined on stage by Mathis Pascaud on guitar, Gael Rakotondrabe played the Steinway piano, Laurent Vernerey the bass, and the Ludwig drums were played by Raphaël Cassin. Ayo came onto the stage with her dreadlocks under a high crowned hat, wearing a long gown, dancing and twirling on bare feet. She sang "Beautiful" and "Rest Assured" from Royal (Wagram/3ème bureau, 2020). It was not American folk music, it had West African influences, but the themes were indeed folk, delivered emotionally. In "Rosy Blue," Ayo played the guitar in a homage to a friend lost to suicide. The subject matter became lighter with a soul song followed by a statement of religious belief. Actress and singer Ayo was moved to tears—forty-foot-wide video screens don't hide private emotions.

Keziah Jones

Keziah Jones was discovered playing music on the Paris metro system. A photogenic man dressed for his chosen pop music era, Jones was joined in a trio by Alexander Miller on electric bass and smiling Joshua McKenzie on the drums. The music did not stray far from original pieces of straight funk to arrive at what Jones describes as Blufunk, effectively an Anglo-Nigerian pop mix. The three musicians worked to make the big funk sound without a brass section or organ.

Sylvain Rifflet at L'Astrada

Sylvain Rifflet arrived on stage wearing his signature skirt and sat on the floor in front of a mechanical music box he had made, fed by a punched tape when he turned the handle. Trumpeter Verneri Pohjola blew dry notes, only starting to play when Benjamin Flament joined on a xylophone mounted over his drum kit, which he played with four mallets adding another dimension to the music. Philippe Gotdiani played an impossibly fast guitar solo with drums pressed to keep up. Rifflet plays the saxophone with a fluid style accompanied by a background drone provided by a pedal-operated shruti box, giving a continuous sound not unlike a didgeridoo. They played "Déjà Vu" and "Mésanges" from Aux Anges (Magriff, 2022), and the performance gave a view into the French jazz avant-garde.

Imelda May

Irish-born Imelda May has the harsh, powerful voice needed for rock but is capable of a ballad like "Don't Let Me Stand On My Own," her composition which she sang in duet with her guitarist Oliver Darling. She dedicated " I Will Do Anything For Love (but I won't do that)" to Meatloaf. With Donny Little on the guitar, Richard Cardwell on keyboards Oscar Golding on bass and Ryan Aston on the drums, May took her warm-up band role seriously when her performance was often more refined than what followed. Comparisons are one of the problems of scheduling bands with the similar material on the same evening. However, the advantage is that the audience hears a lot of the music they enjoy.

Beth Hart

American singer-songwriter Beth Hart began by singing a gospel prayer acapella, then went out into the audience singing to great applause. Joined on stage by Jon Nicholls on the guitar, Tom Lilly on the bass and Bill Ransom on the drums, Hart played her compositions on the keyboard, including "Bad Woman Blues." Hart has seen her share of self-inflicted troubles. Still, onstage, with her road manager husband nearby, she was professional and released A Tribute to Led Zeppelin (Provogue Records, 2022), material which her raucous voice delivers forcefully.

Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter got caught up in immigration at Sofia Airport, Bulgaria. Although a member of the European Union, Bulgaria does not have freedom of movement agreements with the other countries. Marciac immediately moved to refund tickets.

Piano Forte

The people who took their Gregory Porter refund were invited to stay and enjoy Piano Forte—four keyboards and four pianists. Baptiste Trotignon, Eric Legnini Bojan Z, аnd Pierre de Bethmann played the pianos by Steinway and Yamaha, plus two Fender Rhodes electric pianos. They started with a "Nocturne" composed by de Bethmann and moved on to compositions by Legnini and Trotignan, who played barefoot on this hot evening; the tops were off the pianos, too. The musicians played Musical chairs, changing places and instruments. An Antonio Carlos Jobim composition, "Poetry In Black And White," was played just on the pianos by Trotignan and Bojan. They finished the piece plucking at the piano strings and whistling the tune into a fade. All four musicians played Duke Ellington's "Caravan," with the Fender Rhodes being used to carry the critical baseline effectively. Forty fast fingers can hit many notes, but they finished every piece sharply and together.

Taksim Band

The Taksim band, who took their name from Taksim Square in Istanbul, were to have represented the meeting of East and West in music. Taking traditional Eastern Turkish and Roma music and adding modern and jazz styling, Husnu Senlendirici on clarinet, Ayant Dogan on Qanun (zither), and Ismail Tuncbilek playing electric saz (a long-necked Turkish lute) were caught up in Istanbul Airport health checks, and the concert was cancelled.

Lucienne Renaudin Vary

Classically trained in the Paris conservatoire, trumpet player Lucienne Renaudin Vary came on stage wearing an orange and pink dress with a dramatic, long right sleeve and no shoes. Her petite figure and blonde hair moving with the music exuded a charming elfin quality as they played "Close Your Eyes And Listen" from Piazzolla Stories (Warner Classics, 2021). Vary played closely with Hugo Lippi, an excellent guitarist, and Vincent Bourgeyx on the Steinway piano. Thomas Bramerie played the double bass, and Franck Algulhon was on the drums with a notably light touch, giving time and space to listen to the intricacies of his superb drumming. In "Everything Happens To Me," Vary played the trumpet with just her right hand, making expressive gestures with her left, and then she sang in a sultry, subdued voice. In "Parole," Vary played the head and then whistled the rest against a fluid guitar solo. It can't be easy for a young trumpet player to know that Wynton Marsalis is watching in the wings.

Wynton Marsalis

Three years without hearing Wynton Marsalis play live dulls the memory. Always eloquent and in the moment, Marsalis introduced "The Democracy! Suite," beginning with an affirmation of freedom "Be Present." All the musicians around him had followed his mantra-dress right and you play right— everyone wore a jacket and tie on a hot evening. To the left was the tall, elegant figure of Chris Crenshaw on trombone paying polite attention not to block a view of fellow musicians, to the right Chris Lewis on alto saxophone and flute, and Abdias Armenteros, who was excellent on tenor saxophone. Inventive Sean Mason on the Steinway piano was complimented often while long-time band member Carlos Henriquez was on bass and on the drums, quick and sharp, Obed Calvaire. This was Marsalis' band— everyone who plays with him plays brilliantly with an inventive twist. Marsalis gave his usual shoulder shrug and lifted the gold Monette Prana trumpet to lead his band into "Be Present." It doesn't take long for the memory of his mastery to return. The following piece was "Black Lives Matter"—slogans fade, but the meaning remains strong in music. Both trumpet and trombone made great use of mutes. "Ballot Box Bounce" was a fast piece to record the speed of wrongdoing in removing post boxes to impede postal voting. A dramatic dirge, "Deeper Than Dreams," was for those people who had died alone during the pandemic and "Out Amongst The People" recorded the efforts of young musicians to play on, raising spirits during that time. Consistently brilliant in the clarity and complexity of his playing, surrounded by the best young musicians, this was a Marsalis masterclass with meaning.

GoGo Penguin

Nick Blacka is a fine bassist. He was joined by Chris Illingworth on the piano, whose role was to deliver short and simple phrases, repeated continuously, perhaps to create a trance-inducing state of mind but not in tempi for dancing. Jon Scott on the drums did some professional work, but his main contribution was with his right foot thumping the bass drum. The overall effect was extremely bassy, vibrating the floor and, at times, burying the piano. The intention appeared to overwhelm the audience with sound and then imprint simple phrases from each song. They played music from GoGo Penguin (Bluenote 2020).

Jamie Cullum

Jamie Cullum told the audience he is the same age as the Marciac Festival. He is married to Sophie Dahl, model and writer granddaughter of Roald Dahl, who wrote The BFG children's stories. Cullum bridges the divide between popular and jazz music, bringing him a large fan base. His stage delivery is more rock star, but the man can play jazz piano. He sang "These are the Days" with trumpet riffs from Rory Simmons while singer/dancers Aisha Stewart and Mark Henderson ramped up the atmosphere. Cullum sang "What a Difference a Day Makes" alone with the Yamaha piano in an elegant rendition of the standard. All the musicians came together in a line to sing an a cappella version of "I Won't Write Off Mankind" with a short passage from Loz Garrett and his double bass. Then, Cullum the popstar came back, jumping off the piano, running into the audience to sing, calling echoes for them to repeat while Brad Webb beat the drums hard and Tom Varrall made the guitar sing. The audience danced with the pop star, and the jazz people got some skillfully played pieces, including a standard. Something for everyone, the essence of a well-balanced set.

Louise Jallu at L'Astrada

Elegant in a black pantsuit, Louise Jallu raised one foot high onto a stool to support her bandoneon. "Tanguedia" was spilt into three short movements like a classical arrangement. The basis of the concert was the music of Astor Piazzolla which Jallu drew from her recording Piazzolla 2021 (Klarthe records). The bass was played by Alexandre Pierrot, the Bechstein piano and rhodes by Grégoire Letouvet and inventive phrases came from both violin and guitar in the hands of Mathias Lévy. The bandoneon makes sweet romantic music and is forever associated with tango and Buenos Aires with its graceful sadness. However, this was new music, and the rhythms were not for dancing. They played "Adiós Nonino" and then on to "Oblivion," sometimes challenging with discordant phrases. Jallu read from Piazzolla's comments, "When we played at Montreux, Miles Davis had played an hour before, but once we began, the audience was with us." A train whistle blew, and Jallu started "Libertango."

Fiona Monbet

Violinist Fiona Monbet was at the apex of an orchestral construction, supported by a jazz trio and then by a classical orchestra. She had the ability as violinist and conductor to play solo, as part of a jazz quartet, or to bring in a whole orchestra. Philippe Maniez on drums, Zacharie Abraham on bass and Auxanne Catigny on the Yamaha piano were the trio. The frontline of the orchestra were all ladies— Elsa Moatti and Rozarta Luka played the violins, Michelle Pierre on 'cello, and Julia Macarez on viola. On the backline, Sarah Van Der Vist played the flute next to Florent Pujuila on the bass clarinet, while Arno de Casenove played the trumpet and Manon Suchard on the French horn. The variety of instrumentation and the three-tiered musical structure gave broad flexibility. Franco-Irish violinist Monbet composes for herself and films. The audience was treated to "Bossarama" and "Comme un blues" from Maelström (FoFio, 2022), which was very like a blues duet between the bass clarinet and the violin. There was prolonged applause for "Rodeo" in the joyous style of Aaron Copland and "Irish Gospel" reaching into her musical heritage. They played "Just One of Those Things" as their standard. Polished and cohesive, the group created a flexible structure to professionally showcase the exceptional talents of Mme Monbet.

Hiromi

Japanese virtuoso pianist Hiromi came to the stage alone dressed in a simple shift over trousers with sparkly sneakers. She set straight to work, throwing herself with physical abandon at the Yamaha piano, holding right-hand trills forever whilst her left hand played the theme. There was humor, too, in a vaudevillian piece which broke into stride playing unexpectedly and throwing her arms into the low end of the piano to play it like a double bass. The audience was spellbound. The pièce de resistance was equally unexpected. A long rumble burst into George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," his concert masterpiece, which she played straight and magnificently. Then she deconstructed it and went off into an improvisation loosely anchored to the original by reminder phrases. She was physically invested, up on her feet, on the bench, lost in the music. The route she found back through the maze of her own making was superb. We re-entered at the base of the slowly striding Gershwin crescendo, which she played straight and in three different ways, each grander than the last. The ovation was thunderous.

Mathias Levy at L'Astrada

Violinist Mathias Lévy had structured his musicians into a jazz trio, a string quartet, and guest musicians Hugues Mayot on the bass clarinet and Laurent Derache playing the accordion. They played "Beirut," which set the scene for Eastern musical themes which occurred covertly throughout the performance. In intros, Levy or Bruno Ducret on 'cello did some squeaky acrobatics on their strings, and Levy gave some fine solos. However, there has to be written music with that many musicians playing. Maëlle Desbrosse supported Levy on her viola, a natural partner to the violin, and the two double basses of Jérémy Bruyère and Jean-Philippe Viret often split the workload into pizzicato and arco. Thomas Enhco played the Bechstein piano and worked closely with Matthieu Chazarenc on the drums to mark time. The sound was varied, but when they all played together, the depth of two basses and the beautiful 'cello sound gave a classical roundness topped off by solos from Levy and his guests.

Don Vappie

Banjo player Don Vappie is Créole, tracing his ancestry in New Orleans back to before the Louisiana purchase of 1803. He speaks an American version of Ancient French, which is little understood outside of New Orleans. He usually performs with guitarist Dave Kelbie and bassist Sebastien Girardot, and joining him here was David Horniblow on clarinet creating that original sound. Vappie sang as he played a Sidney Bechet tune "Madame Bécassine." He referred back to a time in the Storyville district of New Orleans when there was a blue book catalogue of ladies of the night and sang the title track to his album The Blue Book of Storyville (lejazzetal records, 2020). Vappie sang the anthem question "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?" with smooth clarinet accompaniment. Before the electric guitar was invented, the skin and strings banjo was the sound of jazz.

Jason and Wynton Marsalis

Jason Marsalis joined his brother Wynton for the final concert of the festival. They played New Orleans favorites "Basin Street Blues" and a 1960s composition by their father Ellis Marsalis "Twelve's It." Wynton is the international ambassador for Jazz in Marciac and highly respected in this outpost of jazz. The band went back to the beginning and played W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" with Wynton smiling at his brother's drum solo. Wynton referred to Louis Armstrong as the "King," and they played a tune from 1926 entitled "Skid Dat de Dat" with trombonist Chris Crenshaw singing the scat section. Ellis Marsalis briefly owned a club in New Orleans called the Music Haven which was the inspiration for "Swinging At The Haven" which they played before the Victor Goines and Sean Mason clarinet and piano duet of the Sidney Bechet tune "Petite Fleur."

The final comments were from the Mayor and President of Jazz in Marciac, Jean-Louis Guilhamon, expressing satisfaction with attendance levels close to the 2019 Festival and a renaissance of the spirit of Jazz in Marciac. "Methods of cultural consumption have changed but Marciac has evolved and found new ways of operating."

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