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Sarajevo Jazz Festival 2016

Francesco Martinelli By

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The final night of the festival opened by two duos with pianist Bojan Zulfikarpasic—in an already very tight program that really challenged who wanted to entirely follow the events this was maybe a bit too much: one would have been enough. However they were different in character, and each had their strong points. I preferred the clean, streamlined sound of the trombone played by Nils Wogram, but the emotional committment and familiarity with the repertory of French saxophonist Julien Lourau created a more equal and richer dialogue with the keyboards. These two sets also went on too long, displacing the rest of the evening even farther into the night. Django Bates' humanCHain suffered from the situation, due also to the lack of experience of his band formed by excellent students. His opening Dylan tribute was masterful —the second of the day, after A Hard Rain Gonna Fall sang by Greaves—and showed at best the energetic singing and magnetic presence by Claire Hugenin, but the attention began to fade with the night advancing and the hard core of the audience waiting for the last concert. I think that such a project need more breathing space, as I still remember how elated I was after a similar concert in Tallinn. I regret to say that my own energy was exausted and I had to miss—after almost 12 hours since the first concert—the final and eagerly expected set by Terje Rypdal's band with guest Palle Mikkelborg on trumpet.

Besides the fascinating context the festival takes place in, I feel that a festival is strong when leads a listener on a path of exploration. It includes and welcomes the possibility of finding dead-ends, because no discovery runs on a highway—you need to go through backstreets and forest walks, with the resident danger. After all the huge amount of music and emotion experienced in Sarajevo, what is left is the sense of having lived through an intellectual adventure of the highest calibre. Kudos to Edin and his team for creating and keeping alive this festival in the most difficult conditions—we all may soon have to learn from them.

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