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Tampere Jazz Happening 2014

Henning Bolte By

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Beloved /bee-love-it/ is a musical configuration of a special kind. Pianist Django Bates resorts to his earliest conscious influences: the music of Charlie Parker. This early experience has been reworked together with two younger musicians, especially in terms of dynamics and melodic colour. The musical partnership with Danish drummer Peter Bruun and bassist Petter Eldh was a result of finding them, by being ready and open on a deeper level, not by consciously searching and selecting. Bruun and Eldh struck a chord when Bates heard them playing by accident when passing their rehearsal room at the Rhythmical Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. Playing together unprepared confirmed his first impression of Bruun's impressionistic way of drumming and Eldh's drummer-like and percussionist way of bass playing combined with short melodic motifs. Their direct mutual rapport allowed them to focus on developing the dynamic finesses of the music. After that, and as a consequence of their first gig at Copenhagen Jazzhouse with Evan Parker, a real piano trio became a fact. Nonetheless this configuration is primarily defined and perceived by the special musical approach and musical personalities, and not its format. It is exactly that what makes Beloved one of the best piano trios today.

The piano trio is the supreme discipline in jazz. Through rich possibilities, it functions as a strong filter sifting out those few who were and are able to set new standards. What matters is how the three instrumental vertices relate to each other dynamically, harmonically, and sound-wise, to build something coherent, in close dependency. Eventually, each shift at one vertex inevitably triggers shifts by the other two. Letting the song sing itself is at the core of the piano trio. Connecting a diversity of songs in a gripping way is the highest achievement.

Right from the start the trio's reworking of Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes" made clear, literally, how the wind blows. It was the dynamics of spreading the basic line and overtones, letting it unite or evade each other. This was elaborated very sophisticatedly in Parker pieces and their own compositions (among others "Donna Lee," "Sadness All The Way Down," "Star Eyes," "Pianist As Promised,"" Confirmation,"" Alicia") in lightning-fast, irregular movements and salmon leaps, thereby transcending the played notes. It was fascinating how all three musicians expanded the sound by their well-dosed own singing voices as well as special keyboard and kalimba ingredients. The tight conjunction and attuning of these characteristics, the intertwining of steady and elusive, dense and open, was just stunning and Beloved's appearance undoubtedly a highlight of the festival! Having experienced that, the richness of Parker's work, it also is a bit wondrous that Parker, who is considered one of the greats and a key jazz musician, is performed so little.

The night programme had again 4 contrasting shows to offer: Mathias Eick 5, ICP Orchestra, Bill Frisell's Space Age Guitars, and Linton Kwesi Johnson together with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band.

The double drum quintet of Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick with pianist Andreas Ulvo, Audun Erlien on electric bass guitar, and Gard Nilssen and Torstein Lofthus on drums, opened the evening part of the program. Ulvo already played with Karl Seglem that same day and Lofthus with Elephant 9 during the opening night of the festival. The double drums and electric bass empowered the chanting melodies, providing the right pressure and open space and saving them from becoming sweet. As ever it was a strong, joyful affair to be immersed in Eick's music played very loudly but with full dynamics nonetheless. It appeared to be last performance of the group with ubiquitous Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen (who had arrived in Tampere from Istanbul). As a thank-you and goodbye the group ended with its piece "Oslo" as a smoking flag.

The Instant Composers' Pool Orchestra (ICP) from Amsterdam has been around for quite a while. Founded in 1967 by pianist Misha Mengelberg, reedist Willem Breuker, and drummer Han Bennink, it soon developed as Mengelberg's child whereas Breuker installed his Kollektief. Breuker passed away in 2010 and Mengelberg had to retreat from playing and traveling last year, whereas Bennink is in full action still. Its line-up has been quite stable during the last 15, 20 years: Michael Moore (cl, as), Ab Baars (cl, ts), Tobias Delius (cl, ts), Wolter Wierbos (tromb), Thomas Heberer (cornet), Mary Oliver (vln, viola, voc), Tristan Honsinger (vlc, voc), Ernst Glerum (b), Han Bennink (dr, voc). Now it is a new challenge for the present ICP instalment to go on with its still existing high potential, and to find its way and shape.

ICP's Tampere appearance was amazingly compact and vital. Starting from an energizing propelling and clearing Sun Ra cacophony, the orchestra rushed into and slid through Brook Bowman's "East Of The Sun, West of The Moon," also the title of their recent album and full of salutes and allusions to ICP's founding father. The bunch worked through "Rebus Knebus," "Een Beetje Zenuwachtig," "The Mooche," finishing with a great combo of Sean Bergin "Lavoro" with Count Basie's "Moten Swing," a kwela-imbued tribute to another Amsterdam musician who passed away recently. There was a lot of looseness and short spontaneous action, but heavy instant composing, no. Cellist Honsinger gave a sample of honsinging, hongesticulating, honjumping and honfalling ICP-conduction in "Een Beetje Zenuwachtig" ("A Bit Nervous"). Last but not least, clearly visible and clearly experienceable: Uri Caine was at the piano (for the first time) fitting in effortlessly, heartfelt and driven by fun!
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