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Jazzdor Strasbourg 2015

Henning Bolte By

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November 10-13, 2015

Jazzdor is a French festival with two annual editions. The main part is held in the Strasbourg area (France) in November and the other one in Berlin (Germany) in June. Both editions present a considerable number of bilateral and multilateral collaborations; an essential part of the festival's philosophy and policy.

The Strasbourg festival is the older home part. It celebrated its 30th edition this year. The Strasbourg festival is spread out over two weeks in November, collaborating with the neighboring German city of Offenburg that also offers a stage for some bigger concerts held. This year's edition from November 6—20, presented more than 30 concerts, including a concert of a special Jazzdor Ensemble led by great French clarinetist Louis Sclavis. In addition to the groups and concerts covered here, the program presented musicians from France (Auditive Connection, Ark 4, Le Bal des Faux Frères, Pascal Contet, Yves Dormoy, Filiamotsa & G.W. Sok, Daunik Lazro, Mathieu Metzger, Eve Risser (Donkey Monkey, White Desert Orchestra), Bernard Struber)), cross-national configurations (Carlos Bica Azul, Hans Lüdemann T.E.E. Ensemble), Northern American contributions (Richie Beirach Kris Davis 5, James Farm, Jason Moran "Fats Waller Dance Party," Archie Shepp) as well as German and Swiss groups (Amor Amok, Joachim Kühn, Plaistow, Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman made a furioso start with three pieces from John Zorn's "Book of Angels" (album Malphas) and continued fulminant with their own pieces as "For Alice," "Dunes" (album Hotel du Nord), "Orpheus and Eurydice" and "Five Senses Of Keen" (album To Fly To Steal, Live at Théatre Vidy). Bold leaps and explosive configurations arose from their igneous strings and keys. Even to those familiar with these pieces the work sounded fresh and fiery with some great new nuances and turns, especially the speedy clatter originating from a preparation of piano strings. Courvoisier uses these in a very concise and musically highly significant way.

As usual Courvoisier created an accumulation of complex tonal figures abstracted from various sources and coming forth from deep exploration. These figures might be regarded pieces in their own right, pieces in a piece, pieces which progress were concatenated in highly dynamic ways, thus inducing a clear feel of an overarching whole. What she did could even be considered a kind of highly sophisticated acoustic sampling. Though sometimes you may recognize some snippets, it always feels like an utterly genuine creation, far from the more usual and dominant theme-variation-structure. Feldman often took the motivic role, the forward propelling role, and the role of initiating breaks and turns with a stunningly rapid and contrasting combination of (extended) techniques always serving a musical expansion and deepening. The duo's performance was sharp and had great dynamics. It created great momentum, grace, power, and magic. It was a very delightful upbeat to the music of the subsequent group Il Pergolese.

Il Pergolese

There are few places in Europe where secular and religious music, music of the past and the present, folk and classical music, as well as jazz and rock music are so close together and intertwine. Intense vocals, clean bel canto, wild tarantulas or incantatory tammurriata accompanied by violently erupting rhythms: music that celebrates life. Neapolitan folk and art music have in common extraordinarily strong, memorable melodic content and that is what some gifted composers like Pergolese masterfully gave and give shape. This intensity nourishes the music of Il Pergolese. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710—1736), a young and extraordinary composer, created some unforgettable music in his short life and then there are these four musicians, pianist Francois Couturier, cellist Anja Lechner, vocalist Maria Pia De Vito, and percussionist Michele Rabbia, who felt attracted to that music and brought the backwash of Pergolese's creations into audible, tangible being along the traces of time and memory.


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