Jazzdor Berlin 2013: Berlin, Germany, June 5-8, 2013

Jazzdor Berlin 2013: Berlin, Germany, June 5-8, 2013
Henning Bolte By

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Jazzdor Berlin 2013
Kesselhaus in der Kulturbrauerei
Berlin, Germany
June 5-8, 2013

The Jazzdor festival is part of Berlin's still highly attractive cultural and artistic climate of the post- wall era. The seventh edition of this four-day festival took place during the first week of June, 2013 at the Kesselhaus of a former brewery in the well known eastside Prenzlauer Berg district. The festival is an offshoot of Jazzdor Strasbourg, situated in the north-eastern Alsace region of France, the French-Swiss-German triangle.

A French festival in Berlin? Berlin has always possessed a strong French presence. Nowadays, two French institutions in Berlin—Institut Français and Bureau Export de la Musique Française—are strongly connected to jazz activities in Berlin, but the main factor without a doubt is Philippe Ochem, the artistic director of Jazzdor, with his longtime experience in cross-border and intercultural activities. He has shaped the open-minded cooperative signature of the festival with a multinational team and multinational partners. Next year, even more cities will become involved in the summer edition of Jazzdor.

Contrary to strong belief, Jazzdor Berlin is not and has never been a solely French affair. This year's edition e.g. presented a new promising This year's edition, for example, presented a new promising heavy-weight Swiss-French-Danish trio, as well as a German/French two- tenor quartet and an American-Swiss-French quartet. Musicians from different origins (German, Danish, British, American and more) who are also often living in Berlin are now teaming up to play the festival, either as longstanding groups, brand new combinations or occasional meetings—all resulting from keeping close contact with the musicians and goings on within the city's music scene. The festival, therefore, not only presents new trends but also intervenes to establish new things.

Jazzdor Berlin presents three concerts every night, all broadcast live by Deutschlandradio Kultur. This year's edition started with the duo of veteran bass clarinetist Michel Portal and rising young accordion star Vincent Peirani, and closed, on the last evening, with trumpeter Antoine Berjeaut's Wasteland, featuring Mike Ladd.

Wednesday, June 5

Berlin Jazzdor 2013 started with a happy Portal/Peirani duo, a cutting edge Samuel Blaser/Marc Ducret/Peter Bruun trio (Switzerland, France, Denmark), and a delightful, funny quartet of French pianist Dennis Badault, with young British trumpeter Tom Arthurs, from Berlin, and the two Frenchmen—violinist Régis Huby and double bassist Sébastian Boisneau. A wonderful start from three different angles.

Vincent Peirani ,who has just released the album Thrillbox (2013), on the German ACT (with Michael Wollny, Michel Benita, Michel Portal and Emile Parisien), is a rising star on Accordion— and, without a doubt, the tallest accordionist ever on a stage. His duo with Michel Portal was the French counterpart to the Italian Gianluigi Trovesi/Gianni Coscia duo, which has operated successfully on European stages for many years. Portal and Peirani played European- -especially French—standards in a sophisticated and lighthanded way, allowing for lots of a l'improviste musical joking. Portal apparently enjoyed his role when playing this evergreen repertoire. The effect on the audience was correspondent, joining the joyous mood and calling for encore.

Trombonist Samuel Blaser, guitarist Marc Ducret and drummer Peter Bruun provided a clear contrast. Their first public performance showed three amazing musicians in a cutting-edge appearance with every moment full of dense and colorful sound, seizing music and relentless surprise. Blaser and Ducret have been playing in the trombonist's quartet with Swiss bassist Banz Oester and American drummer Gerald Cleaver for awhile, with two albums on the Hat Hut label—2012's As The Sea and 2011's Boundless. Through the quartet, Blaser and Ducret found their way into more intimate blendings of their respective instruments and have also been performing together in a duo context. Blaser, a very guitar-minded musician, also worked with guitarists Scott DuBois and Todd Neufeld earlier in his career. For this next step, playing as trio, Ducret suggested Danish drummer Peter Bruun, with whom he had worked regularly.

The blending of Ducret's guitar and Blaser's 'bone worked out brilliantly. Together with Bruun's extraordinary drumming it yielded ever emerging contours of fascinating form and color shifts with unusual contrast of sharply cut transitions, as well as gleaming sounds of sliding glides. Bruun—a unique drummer who came up with new ways of weaving percussion into and through shape-shifting forms—possessed amazing time, his bass drum combining with the intensity of his needlelike stick work. With this performance, Jazzdor saw the manifestation of a groundbreaking trio with big musical potential.

H3B brought together Régis Huby—one of France's most appreciated jazz violinists (he is one of only a few who regularly play the tenor violin), Sébastien Boisseau, an exceptional rhythmical bassist, and trumpeter Tom Arthurs (originally from Scotland, now living in Berlin), who replaced the group's third B two years ago. The current leader, pianist Denis Badault , is a musician who has yet to get more attention and recognition internationally.

H3B provided sensations of delightful dizziness. The group's music rose up with strong and clear groove-driven motifs, melodies projected deep into space, and a special inherent tension. Its dialectics let the music shift into more reflective moods—dreamy, even—or let it drift into revealing unexpected inner qualities. The musicians of H3B played the music's own shadows in a way that eventually made it accessible, sophisticated, thrilling and joyful. Without doubt a good joker for that night.

Thursday, June 6

The second day again offered an evening full of contrasts: bebop-shredder Actuum, with its improbable variations on "Salt Peanuts," drummer Denis Charolles and guitarist David Chevallier liaising with chanteuse dangereuses, Scottish vocalist Maggie Nichols, and, at last, tenor grandeur with eminent German veteran, Heinz Sauer.

Actuum (pronounced: ahktoum) is a new French band of four highly motivated and disciplined young musicians: saxophonist Benjamin Dousteyssier, trumpeter Louis Lorrain, bassist Ronan Courty and drummer Julien Loutelier.


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