Tampere Jazz Happening 2018

Mike Collins By

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Hamid Drake and Yuko Oshima delighted the early evening crowd with a conversational, interactive téte à téte, drum kit to drum kit, before Denys Baptiste and his quartet provided another high point of the festival. They offered a tribute to John Coltrane, drawing on the spirit of his later work for an incandescent set playing selections from Late Trane (Edition, 2017). Baptiste's soloing reached howling, ecstatic heights whilst remaining utterly personal, as the band dropped into a bustling, funky groove on "Ascent," took a lilting, lyrical approach on "After the Rain" (with a little dose of reggae), and finished in a maelstrom of rhythm from drummer Rod Youngs on "Vigil." They received a rapturous reception.

Rymden, the trio of pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Ostrom, is the marriage of the longstanding EST (Esbjorn Svensson Trio) rhythm section with musical adventurer Wesseltoft. It sounded completely natural. There were hypnotic patterns melded with rocky grooves, elegiac hymns with lyrical soloing, and snappy riffs with fierce, spiraling invention. A fitting climax to the day.

Like all good festivals there were many layers, offering a plethora of choices. The intimate surroundings of the nearby Telakka's bar hosted a packed programme of the finest Finnish bands that, on Saturday, included 3TM and Halme Prospekt, finishing with a roaring set from the energetic and punkish trio Mopo, given an extra boost by its fiery guest, reedsman Mikko Innanen. The Finnish theme continued well into the night back at Klubi, with saxophonist Timo Lassy and his band delivering a burning, straight-ahead set, backed by the Ricky Tick Big Band Brass.

The Art Ensemble of Chicago brought the curtain down on the Happening with a typically riotous set on Sunday. Tampere's 37th Jazz Happening was a triumph and a showcase for the many avenues that jazz musicians continue to explore.


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