Sunday, 8 July 2012

Jazz under the guise of history

Went to North Sea Jazz festival yesterday for the first time in my life (yes, that's what turning 40 does to you!) and although I'm no jazz afficionado, I was quited eager to go.

I must admit that I had a bit pessimistic view about jazz festivals and jazz festival-goers, but was happy to be proved wrong. The programme was highly varied, showing all forms of jazz (except dixieland, thankfully) but also including blues, soul, klezmer and the latin adaptations of heavy metal songs by Rodrigo y Gabriela.

One of the highlights for me was the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, who performed parts from their Race Riot Suite. The performance was a steaming, energetic collection of dirty jazz pieces inspired by the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots, which destroyed a vibrant black community (this is the bit of history that provides me the excuse to post about it here).

Bought the album straight away and it doesn't disappoint. A good combination of 1920s jazz, klezmer brasswork,steel guitar and driving bass and drums. But of course, if yet ever get a chance of seeing them live, don't pass up.

Another inspirational performance was put on by three Dutch youngsters from Kapok. The trio of drums, guitar and horn showed they were in charge of their instruments but more importantly, that their creativity and joy in playing showed the magic of live performances. They played courtesy of winning a competition for Dutch jazz artists. Of course I don't know how well the other contestants did, but I can believe they earned it.

Ahmad Jamal showed that you don't get too old for playing jazz. Seun Kuti managed to enthrall through his sustained rythms and melodies. The Harold Lopez Nussa quintet performed some powerful latin jazz that we saw too little of. Esperanza Spalding didn't live up to the hype, but possibly because I don't like 'doobedeedaaboopiedoopie' jazz, especially not when done with skill.

All in all a very good evening in all respects!

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