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November Music 2014

Henning Bolte By

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November Music
s' Hertogenbosch
November 8-9, 2014

November Music is a festival of contemporary music, new music in the broadest sense, held in the medieval town of s'-Hertogenbosch in the southeast of The Netherlands and home of painter Jheronimus Bosch (1450-1516). Besides the core of contemporary composers' music there are neighboring branches such as experimental pop, sound art/sound installations, as well as jazz and free improvised music presented during five days in the first week of November. Concerts are spread throughout the city, with the transformed old rusk and cookie factory of Verkade at the center. The festival went immediately along with the factory's transformation during 1993.

November Music maintains a special focus on one or a couple of composers, zooming in on jazz and improvised music on Saturday, and offering the music route (kunstmuziekroute) on Sunday. In this article, we stick to the jazz parts of that program only, also paying attention to a concert with works of the young Australian composer Kate Moore as performed by pianist Saskia Lankhoorn.

Saturday's old jazz romantics

November Music strives to initiate interesting meetings between musicians during the festival. It has a longer tradition of inviting guest musicians to play with Dutch musicians or ensembles, especially in the jazz field. This year they initiated three colaborations. Friday evening the quintet of pianist Franz von Chossy, (Jeffrey Bruinsma (violin), Jörg Brinkmann (vocals), Alex Simu (clarinet), Yonga Sun (drums)) was presented in combination with Chinese sheng player Wu Wei. The other two combinations were part of a special Saturday night jazz program, "Colors of Improvisation." Here, Dutch string quartet Zapp 4 featured Marc Ribot as a guest and the US piano trio The Bad Plus featured Dutch guitaristic enfant terrible Anton Goudsmit. Compositions by those guesting groups provided the framework for unrehearsed, one of a kind meetings in this context. The program was finished by the trio of pianist Tigran Hamasyan. Ribot as well The Bad Plus were also performed autonomously with their own groups. Marc Ribot on Saturday afternoon with his trio of bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor.The Bad Plus was to perform its adaption of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" on Friday, but was not allowed to do so after a last minute conflict with the Stravinsky estate's publisher (see below addendum for details).

Ribot's trio, now almost 10 years underway, played its known Ayler-Coltrane hymns as well as some 'folk' material. Remarkably Henry Grimes performed on violin for longer stretches in the second half of the concert. It fitted in wonderfully and was an especially enriching experience. The way Chad Taylor was anchoring and propelling the rough rides of the trio was just amazing, time and time again. Even more impressive were his short and striking solos. He is fully in service of the music and significant as a voice simultaneously. The trio's energy to spin out, make burn and hail 'old' songs is unfettered and even J.J. Niles' adaptation of the old Appalachian traditional "Black Is The Color ..." broke through the grainy textures. As usual for Ribot's way of making music he seemed to be far out, but every time his music mysteriously found its way towards the very center of every piece.

Soon after the trio concert Ribot had to switch to four Dutch string players of Zapp, working in a collective called string quartet. The compositional framework provided by the members of the quartet provided a rich and safe enough vehicle to make the travel into unforeseeable, unpredictable, and hopefully challenging combinations of known and unknown territory. It was then a question of chemistry and navigating to yield surprising and captivating effects.

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