Jazzdor Festival 2021, Strasbourg – News, reviews, reports and commentary from the London jazz scene and beyond
36th Jazzdor Festival – Opening weekend
(Cité de la Musique, Strasbourg. November 6 and 7, 2021. Summary by Sebastian Scotney)
There is a provocative confidence about the way Philippe Ochem programs the Jazzdor Festival.
Underpinning this 36th edition – judging by the first weekend concerts I attended, see also the summary of the first three concerts – is an implicit theme that holding live musical events can improve performance. communication across borders (starting with the border closest to Strasbourg, a few kilometers away, with Germany), but also through different cultures, languages and experiences. This is not secure programming. Watching things happen in front of you will not be predictable or secure. The message is that the risks are there to be taken.
These themes have been elegantly taken up (in French) in a magnificent text written by a seasoned critic. Francois Marmande in the world (CONNECT), who describes programming as: “A whole art around the surprise: juggling, lighting, inventing combinations and formulas, a game with nerves, time and music.
Eve Risser / Eurythmia Red Desert Orchestra
Eve Risser / Eurythmia Red Desert Orchestra
For me the main event was always going to be Eve risserThe new work of ensemble, and it was indeed the highlight of Saturday’s program. I had attended the remarkable premiere of his White Desert Orchestra at La Courneuve in 2015 (link to review in this section); its impact on the European scene and its importance within it has grown steadily in the meantime.
The ensemble of twelve musicians who perform Eurythmy is one of two projects where Risser has combined musicians she enjoys working with from the French scene with West African musicians. And ‘enjoy’ is the right word. This special event was a kind of heartwarming homecoming for Risser, who grew up in the nearby town of Colmar and whose family was in force.
Eve Risser’s persuasive leadership always seems to begin with the kind of encouraging and empowering smile that the photo of Peter Bastian (above) so eloquently captures. The rousing, rocking and infectious rolling force of the djembes and balafons in this group is like a tide to carry, but they are far from the only voice. Tatiana Paris on guitar and longtime ally of Risser Fanny Lasfargues are both simply fabulous in this context. german trumpeter Nils Ostendorf a carte blanche to introduce electronic devices from another world. Risser favors loaded textures and collective chaos, but there is also delicacy, and she absolutely knows how to set the context so that each of her soloists shines.
There was a review of the performance at the Nevers Jazz Festival a few days later, which refers to the audience getting up and dancing. It must have been a different room from the more staid Cité de la Musique in Strasbourg. And thinking back to that music, and how physical it is, the desire to get up feels understandable and natural. I was happy to learn that this work was due to be recorded next month; it is music above all that must be heard. Note to self: start thinking about the best lists for 2022.
LINK: The premiere of White Desert in 2015
Michael Wollny Solo
The extent of Wollny’s inspiration in his solo set was, as always, astounding. Tori Amos immediately followed by Rudolf, Paul Hindemith’s brother? Why never. And then we remember the extent of his activity beyond the solo piano, the extent of what he is capable of, the number of contexts in which he flourishes. Awesome stuff. I recently had the privilege of writing extensively on this theme recently, in an English portrait of him commissioned for his website. HERE.
Quintet ‘Idiome Uni’ by Julia Kadel (creation)
What remains in mind especially of the first performance of a young Julia Kadel Quintet “Idiom Uni” was the pure presence and richness of the sound of the alto saxophone of Louise Volkmann. I hope a reader will know where it was best captured in a recording. Simple, I really want to hear more of this sound!
Baldwin in Transit (Stéphane Payen, Mike Ladd …)
It is a work truly created on site by three instrumentalists and three speaking voices. The composer and saxophonist Stephane Payen and his high-flying instrumental cohort of guitarist Marc Ducret and violinist Dominique pifarely sounded to the whole world as if the subtle and intricate music was written entirely for them. Wrong. Totally wrong. Payen showed me the musical ideas and the cells and suggested voicings they were working from, and there are all kinds of improvisation strategies involved. Which is a testament to the quality of the musician. And that’s only a fraction of the story: Mike Ladd, Jamika Ajalon and Tamara Singh performed, reacted, reimagined and updated texts by James Baldwin to reflect racial realities in 2021. More performances are planned, and it will be a fascinating project to watch as it evolves.
CONNECT: Jazzdor website
Review of the opening night of Jazzdor Strasbourg 2021
The Strasbourg Jazzdor Festival continues until November 19.