Europe’s new jazz voices.
What do Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Slovenia Sweden and The UK have in common? They are all European points of departure for talented young ensembles who will be joining leading Irish players for 12 Points!, a new jazz festival for Dublin.
12 Points! refers affectionately to the Eurovision Song Contest, and the maximum number of points its judges could award the competing entries. For all its eccentricities, Eurovision brings many of Europe’s citizens together in a spirit of musical diversity, and this festival is informed by that same aspiration. For its part, jazz has become Europe’s musical lingua franca, a conduit for cultural exchange that moves fluidly within Europe and our 12 Points! are beacons of new jazz creativity to be found within the EU.
Wed 25 April
From Strasbourg – La Poche a Sons – 19:30
Arch free improv meets impish sense of fun with our French participants, La Poche A Sons. Formed in 2002, their name translates as the Pocket of Sound, and these four young musicians of the Alsace travel to 12 Points! with an impressive instrumental array that includes saxophone, trombone, accordion, melodica and baritone horn, collectively performed by a frontline of Jean Lucas and Hugues Mayot. This brass in pocket is in freewheeling dialogue with bassist Jerome Fohrer and drummer Frederic Guerin, and together they explore an ever shifting musical terrain that evokes the compositional charms of England’s Django Bates and the spirited defiance of France’s Henri Texier.
From Budapest – Daniel Szabo Trio -21:00
Elegance and poise will be provided by this outstanding Hungarian piano trio which combines European lyricism with the swagger of contemporary US jazz. Fittingly, its led by Daniel Szabo, an exceptional talent nurtured on both sides of the Atlantic, most recently with Bob Brookmeyer at The New England Conservatory, which Szabo attended as a Fulbright Scholar. The great trombonist/composer’s benign influence is evident in Szabo’s fine compositions, with artful use of chromaticism and a casual ease with asymmetric rhythms that is the hallmark of his own Hungarian traditional music. He’s just recently concluded an extensive European tour with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkle, and makes his Dublin debut with compatriots from Budapest’s fertile jazz scene, bassist Mayas Szandai and drummer Andras Mohay.
From London – Led Bib – 22:00
London Calling. The UK’s creative music scene is fairly buzzing with talk of Led Bib, a raucous five piece who are opening up a rich seam between the jazz musician’s crafted approach and the muscle of a rock band at full throttle. Drummer Mark Holub leads this raw, exhilarating collective that wantonly references John Zorn and The Clash, and his fellow pugilists are alto saxists Chris Williams and Pete Grogan, bassist Liran Donin and keyboardist Toby McLaren. Taking their cue from the success of London groups like Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear, both of whom unlocked the potential that long lay dormant in the English punk legacy and the spirit of ’79, Led Bib are moving the aesthetic onward, and are themselves a vivid motif of the renewed creative energy in English jazz.
Thu 26 April
From Dublin – White Rocket – 19:30
In 2005 two Dubliners, pianist Greg Felton and drummer Sean Carpio met Chicagoan trumpeter Jacob at Banff Centre for Jazz & Creative Music and not for the first time, the famous Canadian artistic retreat has been the catalyst for a memorable first contact. Trumpet, piano and drums may seem an unwieldy combination, but in this music, its personality that counts, and White Rocket have it in abundance. That, and a shared love of the rhythmic systems of India’s carnatic music and everything from Nick Drake and Hindemith to Autechre and Meshuggah. These influences are not overt, but do offer compelling evidence of open musical minds at work. Comfortable and self assured with the contemporary jazz idiom, and yet liberated from it, the creative axis is in constant movement between this triad of young musicians.
From Amsterdam – Tineke Postma – 21:00
Alto saxophonist Tineke Postma has hardly had time to draw breath since she graduated from The Conservatory of Amsterdam in 2003. Stylistically informed by the swing meets soul approach of old school players like Cannonball Adderly,yet embracing a cool contemporary line in her writing, she’s touched a collective nerve among Dutch audiences where her star is very much in the ascendancy. Comfortable within the boppish vein, she’s a musician who nonetheless demonstrates its enduring appeal when played with a genuine passion. At the vanguard of a new generation of women in Dutch jazz, she’s already toured extensively in Japan and The US, most notably with singer Dianne Reeves and has released two critically acclaimed albums, including 2005’s For The Rhythm, which enlisted drummer Terry Lynn Carrington. Her all Dutch quartet for 12 Points! is no less impressive with pianist Mark Van Roon, bassist Wiro Mahieu and drummer Martijn Vink.
From Berlin – Carsten Daerr Trio – 22:00
The great city of Berlin is a cultural powerhouse once again, and again home to a bustling music scene that ranks among Europe’s most adventurous. Within its diverse jazz milieu, more often celebrated for its free improvisers lies a piano trio, rooted in the tradition and yet restlessly innovative. Seven years in the making, pianist Carsten Daerr, bassist Oliver Potratz and drummer Eric Schaefer have generated an intimate rapport that is now unlocking some very persuasive music, and that appears to have few creative impediments. In Daerr, this trio has a pianist of fairly epic sweep with a mastery of light and shade, force and sensitivity, with a rhythm section in Potratz and Schaefer that’s alive to all the possibilities to manipulate time and texture.
Fri 27 April
From Copenhagen – Light Airborne – 19:30
12 Points! is a European festival, but Manhattan still exerts a gravitational pull on many of our artists, including Denmark’s fine saxophonist/flautist Niels Løkkegaard, who’s intermittently based there. A graduate of Copenhagen’s Rhythmic Music Conservatory, he’s a mainstay of several Danish large groups, and is lead alto with The Kluvers Big Band, in addition to a plethora of groups under his own leadership. He flies to Dublin from the US to convene Light Airborne, featuring Christoffer Møller (Rhodes, piano) Morten Lund (drums) Lars Jenset (bass) and Jeppe Kjellberg (guitar). Collectively, they’re the vehicle for his yearning, harmonically deft compositions that often give way to an open landscape for improvisation with a plaintive Nordic characteristic.
From Sofia – Dimitar Bodurov- 21:00
Along with Romania, Bulgaria has recently joined the EU, and this musical heavy-weight of Eastern Europe is represented at 12 Points! by Dimitar Bodurov. He’s our only solo performer, but this brilliant young pianist is more than up to the demands of this higher expression of the jazz musician’s craft. As with other Balkan pianists like Bojan Zulfikarpasic, he has fashioned something personal from the elements of Bulgarian folk songs and dance forms, coupled to a lyrical understanding of jazz piano. A graduate of The Rotterdam Conservatory, he’s now based in Holland, and in January won the prestigious Dutch Pianoconcours Prize, selected by a jury that included Enrico Pieranunzi, Bobo Stenson and John Taylor, who was moved to describe his trio playing as serene and spacious, with much beauty, mystery and illusion. High praise indeed from one of Europe’s masters and evidence of an important emerging voice.
From Stockholm – Nils Berg – 22:00
Nils Berg is an inventive
and prolific figure in Stockholm’s equivalent of a downtown scene, where many elements of Sweden’s fertile music scene are meshing together. Its a habitat in which groups like The Stoner, the main project of this eclectic saxophonist and composer, have built a reputation for creative and engaging music, documented on four cds in as many years. For 12 Points!, he debuts a brand new project that assembles a quintet of the city’s finest players, with cellist Johanna Dahl, vibraphonist Mattias Stahl, bassist Josef Kallerdahl and drummer Sebastien Voegler Together they make an empathic sound, equally balanced between rhythm and reflection, and toying with ideas drawn from Sweden’s jazz tradition but also it lineage in classical, folk and catchy pop music.
Sat 28 April
From Trondheim – Puma – 19:30
These feisty Norwegian improvisers are the current recipients of Norway’s JazzIntro Prize, a seat last occupied by the piano trio In The Country, but stylistically these two groups couldn’t be more different. This is a sonically adventurous trio, exploring ground more often associated with electronica, rock and free music practitioners, where the primarily linear nature of jazz gives way to extremes of texture and dynamic. Listen closely though, and find that traditional trio thinking and respective roles of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic co-operation have not been abandoned by guitarist Stian Westerhus, keyboardist Oystein Moen and drummer Gard Nilssen. Currently mixing their debut album recorded with Audun Kleive, this will be one of the very first shows outside Norway for this audacious trio.
From Brussels – Melanie De Biasio – 21:00
Just one singer at 12 Points! 2007 – but what a voice. No vocal gymnastics or affected phrasing here, just something pure and sinuous, unadorned and sultry. Melanie De Basio has taken a circuitous route into jazz, from classical flute studies in her formative years, a dalliance with funk and rock bands, then on to studies at The Brussels Royal Conservatory and the formation of creative alliances that are bearing fruit today. With her working group of Pascal Mohy (piano) Pascal Paulus (keys). Axel Gilain (bass) and Wim Eggermont (drums) she’s formed a potent songwriting partnership, and she launches her debut cd just days prior to this Dublin debut. It should be the first of many for this charismatic singer, worthy of the title chanteuse.
From Helsinki – Ilmiliekki – 22:00
Five years in development, Helsinki’s Ilmiliekki have managed a musical alchemy, projecting the maturity of musicians many years their senior, yet retaining a distinctive modern complexion that reflects their own epoch. Classy writing and confident playing, especially from their virtuosic trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, has combined with the palpable group dynamic of pianist Tuomo Prättälä, bassist Antti Lötjönen and drummer Olavi Louhivuori to create one of the most striking young quartets in Europe today. Referencing many points on the creative compass, from Kenny Wheeler to Radiohead, the band has already garnered major acclaim in Finland, including winning the prestigious Teosto Composers Prize, among the first jazz groups to be honoured so. The rest of Europe cant be far behind.