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Jazzdor Strasbourg 2014

Henning Bolte By

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When Lesbros hit the stage, energy levels soon climbed noticeably. With great ease la Lesbros slid through a variety of vocal formats, moulding her very own expression. There was no showcasing at work, but purely the dynamics of the music and vocal expression. It was a great pleasure to experience how she transcends and permeates different idioms and styles to let them merge. Where some vocalists draw from one specific language and its sounds, Lesbros in a way did the opposite by singing, talking, and shouting in different languages—not as a patchwork, but as a unified, dynamic form of expression. However, this was not a singer backed and accompanied by a group of instrumentalists. Darius Jones' forceful voice enhanced and contrasted Lesbros' vocals. Mitchell contextualized the voices' sounds and modes, whereas Niggenkemper and Smith created an adequate loose tightness, thus propelling, deepening and carrying the music. It was an impressive, convincing rendition of new original sound really worthwhile to pursue—witness an overwhelming appreciation by the audience. For the encore Lesbros took over the piano. Together with Niggenkemper's on his horned double bass and Jones she brought another forceful shot of joy.

Red Hill interzone

Jozef Dumoulin's Red Hill Orchestra is a remarkable and without doubt unique musical entity. It makes use of a great variety of sources, but the music you get to hear enters an until yet unknown door. There is nothing comparable to it. Maybe only a vague association with early collaborations of Bill Frisell with Lee Konitz.

Dumoulin makes use of various forms of delay as well as the blurring and flooding effects the Rhodes provides, contrasted with the pointed sounds it also can produce. At a closer look (or listening) it appears to have quite mystical sonic qualities that distinguishes it from present digital electronics (and also from older synthesizers). Dumoulin explored the musical possibilities of these sound qualities on a recent Rhodes solo album on the Bee Jazz label and teamed up with Eskelin and Weiss for further travels into these new territories. The threesome could be experienced during the Strasbourg Festival as well as on the just released album Trust on the French Yolk label.

It is miraculous how Dumoulin's way of using and playing the Rhodes changes the perception of the acoustic instruments, the tenor saxophone and the drum set. Their acoustic qualities surprisingly come much more to the fore on the recording. It also happened during the live performance at the Pôle Sud Theatre in Strasbourg. The music ranged from dreamy to steamy and always had an estranged, almost surrealistic vibe: fascinating great music from the Red Hill interzone! Dumoulin, Eskelin, and Weiss are a marvellous orchestral team on this sonic travel between the known and the unknown. In Strasbourg the threesome succeeded to engross the audience in its remarkable liaison of clarity and fogginess. It also succeeded in perpetuating the fascination and curiosity about how the known and unknown relate to each other in the sounds. It deserved and got an encore for the musicians' return to the outside world.

Operatic jazz

Opera and jazz, they have a special and gritting relationship. Musicians as Sidney Bechet owed a lot to arias at the opera house in New Orleans. The aria influence is much stronger than a lot of jazz aficionados think or would like to accept. Miles Davis was fascinated by Tosca, but never succeeded to get his plans with Gil Evans realized. And there is more.

French reedman Laurent Dehors is a musical wanderer. He was affected by the potential of arias a few years ago. He has a strong tendency and a gift to convert things and organize a frolic orchestral spectacle. About four years ago he made it into reality, together with musical genius and pianist Matthew Bourne and a few other fellow musicians. A par force tour with a wild mix of arias, but how? With the woman as leitmotiv four centuries of opera with all refinement and vicissitudes of life, from bizarre intrigue, forbidden love affairs, marital infidelities, revenge, the urge for power, tragedy and death, to the first appearance of castrati and divas. A recital performed by a soprano, Géraldine Keller, and five musicians: besides Laurent Dehors, Andy Emler, Christelle Séry, Jean-Marc Quillet and Gerald Chevillon. Only six musicians, but they had to play a larger variety of instruments: bass saxophone, tenor saxophone, contrabass and contralto clarinet, trumpet, flute, banjo, electric guitar, piano, accordion, vibraphone, marimba, percussion, and drums.


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