All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

6

Ljubljana International Jazz Festival 2018

Francesco Martinelli By

Sign in to view read count
Ljubljana International Jazz Festival
Cankarjev Centre
Ljubljana, Slovenia
June 27-30, 2018

The Slovenian capital of Ljubljana has rightly become in the last few years one of the most loved tourist destinations in Europe. Hugged by its namesake river, crossing it with a variety of bridges, the city holds great artistic and historical memories, pleasant and wide green areas, great food and a positive, youthful vibe due to university students from all over the world. Reminding of Vienna in a smaller scale, has a rich cultural and musical life which includes the Ljubljana International Jazz Festival, one of the oldest in Europe, that will celebrate next year its 60th edition. But it is not any old festival—the European Jazz Network, a continent-wide association of presenters, awarded it this year with the Adventurous programming prize: the unique character of the festival is to be open for international directors, first the Portuguese Pedro Costa of Clean Feed fame, and now Edin Zubcevic from the Sarajevo Jazz Festival in Bosnia—also part of the ex-Yugoslavia but a very different city.

The festival is held in the Cankarjev Centre, the largest cultural centre of Yugoslavia, a huge building partially underground which despite some architectural excess—the marbled entrance halls especially—features a number of great spaces for performance, with excellent acoustic, top-quality equipment, comfortable sightlines and seating. And it's subject to intense usage since it holds more than 2.000 (two thousands) events in a year with more than 500.000 visitors (roughly twice the population of the city).

Day 1

The program opened Wednesday June 27 with a double bill in the spacious, elegant Gallus hall. First the Slovenian musician Kristijan Krajnčan (who studied in Amsterdam) presented his own unique combination of instruments: he plays with equal facility cello and drums, alternating and sometimes at the same time. Compared to another other set by him that I saw, this time I found rather excessive the use of electronic sequencing in every single piece, leading to some monotony. But the closing evocative number with dancers Žigan Krajnčan and Gašper Kunšek was truly impressive. What followed, the Chris PotterZakir HussainDave Holland trio, must be one of the world top jazz groups. An apparently effortless continuous flow of ideas in conversation, transporting the listener beyond virtuosity into the realm of timelessness. The sweet but sinewy grooves by Holland, the vertiginous variations by Hussain, the liquid lines by Potter intertwining in a delicate but perfect structure.

The program moved then out in the park, where in the middle of ancient plane trees the festival set up a stage and refreshing stand, for the concert of the extremely cool MTF feat. Sub-Lime band, a combination of two existing band into a coherent unity. Krajnčan was back at the trap set, accompanying rapper Murat, modern flamenco dancer Urška Centa, and a jazz quintet into a truly successful blending of languages into a new vibrant expressivity. Fusion in jazz is today's buzzword, and not a virtue in itself, but when it is successful brings the music into a new dimension.

Day 2

Despite misgivings about the weather the second day also opened in the park, with the set by the ALEŠ Rendla sextet, a drummer-led band joining different generations of Slovenian jazz. The modern compositions were quite interesting, if a little diffuse at times, and the musicianship was first class, with brilliant solos by keyboardist Rebeka Zajc, saxophonist Primož Fleischman and clarinetist Aljaž Rendla. What followed was the December Soul trio, an Italian-Slovenian band featuring the master percussionist of Slovenian jazz Zlatko Kaučič, a key presence in many European Free Improvised music bands celebrating the 40th anniversary of his musical career with piano luminary Stefano Battaglia and Salvatore Maiore on bass. Maybe best suited to an indoor venue due to the intimate, delicate character of their music, the trio was nonetheless able to build an intense set with some breathtaking passages from lyricism to all-out energy music, and finally won the hearts of all but the most obdurate yappers in the audience. Due to pressing necessity of food and rest I wasn't able to follow the funk-meets-balkan set of saxophonist Lovro Ravbar with his Get On Board collective that sounded like great fun.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra at Greer Cabaret Theater Live Reviews
The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra at Greer Cabaret Theater
by Mackenzie Horne
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Enjoy Jazz 2018 Live Reviews
Enjoy Jazz 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Jazz for all Ages Live Reviews
Jazz for all Ages
by Martin McFie
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Baku Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Baku Jazz Festival 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Joanna Pascale at Chris' Jazz Cafe Live Reviews
Joanna Pascale at Chris' Jazz Cafe
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Moldejazz 2018 Live Reviews
Moldejazz 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: November 10, 2018
Read "Tallinn Music Week 2018" Live Reviews Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Novara Jazz 2018" Live Reviews Novara Jazz 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: June 30, 2018
Read "2018 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit" Live Reviews 2018 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: March 23, 2018