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Vinterjazz Copenhagen: Carsten Dahl Trio w/ Reuben Rogers and Greg Hutchinson at Jazzhus Montmartre

Vinterjazz Copenhagen: Carsten Dahl Trio w/ Reuben Rogers and Greg Hutchinson at Jazzhus Montmartre
Henning Bolte By

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Carsten Dahl Trio w/ Reuben Rogers
Vinterjazz 2014
Jazzhus Montmartre
Copenhagen, Denmark
February 20-21, 2014


Vinterjazz has the same setup as the Jazzfestival Copenhagen in the summer. It is spread over the whole city but on a smaller scale. During the ten days in February about 400 concerts take place, while the summer festival has more than 1,000. Vinterjazz has a couple of headliners and foreign guests but that is also on a smaller scale.

+ This year: Bobo Stenson Trio, Tim Berne/Jim Black/Nels Cline (US), Enrico Pieranunzi (ITAL) with the Danish Radio Big Band, The Aarhus Jazz Orchestra with Dennis Mackrel (US) en Jesper Thilo (DK), Fenika featuring Zea and Terrie Ex (ETH/NL), guitarist Mikkel Ploug featruing Loren Stillman and Tommy Crane (US), Jakob Bro Tentet w/ Chris Speed, Andrew D'Angelo, Thomas Morgan, Sinne Eeg with Martin Schack and Larry Koonse (US). This entails that the whole scene is busily involved in concert-related activities in various combinations at various venues in town which the visitor can navigate with an excellent app.
This report is confined to the series of concerts of the trio of pianist Carsten Dahl, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson at the world-famous venue Jazzhus Montmartre. Maybe by coincidence, this seems the place for piano trios. My first visit three months ago was a concert by the Bobo Stenson Trio, maybe the best (in the family of) current piano trios.

The Montmartre spirit

The Copenhagen jazz club Montmartre was at the center of exciting new things happening about 50 years ago in the music called jazz. It was a tumultuous period with complex interactions which have to be indicated briefly here to understand the Montmartre context.

Founded in 1959, the very beginning of the 1960s, it served as a permanent school for a young generation of Danish musicians playing with North American expats who came to live in Copenhagen. Among them were big names like the saxophonists Stan Getz (1956-1961), Sahib Shihab (1959- 1973), Dexter Gordon (1962-1975) and Ben Webster (from 1969), as well as bassist Oscar Pettiford (from 1958), violinist Stuff Smith (from 1966) and pianist Kenny Drew (from 1964)—who attracted more traveling American musicians to visit or even stay and settle in Copenhagen. Those (very) young Danish musicians were the likes of drummer Alex Riel, bassists Niels- Henning Ørsted Pedersen (NHØP), Bo Stief and Jesper Lundgaard, saxophonist Bent Jaedig and trumpet player Palle Mikkelborg. It was happy coincidence based on an even happier coincidence of drug-related problems, extraordinary young musical talent, curiosity and a remarkable proactive role of Danish women. This laid a solid foundation where the Danish jazz scene is thriving on to this day.

Radical innovators came in quite early like Cecil Taylor who played there in November 1962 for a whole month (!) with Jimmy Lyons and Sunny Murray, and somewhat later even had a concert appearance together with Albert Ayler elsewhere in Copenhagen. Also Paul Bley appeared quite early in the sixties on the Montmartre stage and established a long-term relationship with NHØP and Danish labels. The activities went on during the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s when the wave of radical musical innovators of North-American and Scandinavian origin gathered and played at the meanwhile famous small club (like Don Cherry, Aldo Romano, Gato Barbieri, George Russell or Steve Lacy).

Another migrational infusion of those days were the musicians who had fled the apartheid conflict in South Africa, like the pianists Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) and Chris McGregor, bassist Johnny Dyani and the drummers Louis Mohollo and Makaya Ntshko. Makaya Ntshko became the house drummer for a while and Johnny Dyani settled in Denmark and played in Pierre Dorge's Jungle Orchestra. Abdullah Ibrahim's influential 2001 album African Piano, re-released in 2014 on vinyl by ECM, was recorded at Montmartre. Also the1970s brought a lot of North American musicians as residents to Copenhagen, among them Horace Parlan (1973), Ed Thigpen (1974), Thad Jones (1977), Duke Jordan (1978) and Ernie Wilkins (1979). In 1976 the glorious period of the club came to an end but in 2010 Montmartre rose from the ashes as a jazz club on the original location.


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