jazzahead 2014

For three days Bremen is the centre of the jazz world – when jazzahead is held in the Congress Centre and jazz-heads from all over the world (according to the organisers from 50 countries) are coming together to chat, listen and conduct a bit of business. A great place to meet old and new friends and collaborators in jazz in all levels of the business: musicians, managers, agents, labels and all sorts of media and of course just the fan. I arrived on Friday, April 25th and dived right into a series of meetings and the few showcases I really wanted to check out I didn’t make – too many people to run into and having a chat with, so I missed Phronesis, but think that their new album is really great and worth checking out. ‘Life To Everything’ is a great piano trio album, with the focus on the word trio and not piano. I as well missed Marc Cary’s performance and Jacques Schwartz-Bart, even so I made it to the venue, but finally managed to hear Shai Maestro, Avishai Cohen’s ex –pianist who performed with his trio and so introduced me to his new album The Road To Ithaca, a brilliant and dynamic complex album of improvised music based on jazz and pop. Then off to the bar and to some music talk and wine ….

The next day, without hangover, more meetings and chats and encounters with journalists and musicians and then off to see Belgian pianist Jef Neve doing a solo concert at the Focke Museum. For me Jef is one of the most exciting European pianists and this solo show just confirmed that view: from a emotional and touching Lush Life to some of his own pieces, the 40 minutes were gone too fast and the desire to hear more lingered on … After that and a quick bite at the Bremen fun fair that was placed right in front of the Congress Centre, I went to see and hear young Dutch guitar master Bram Stadhouders’ Henosis, a project I had seen already in Rotterdam at North Sea 2012, but that again was pretty amazing and of a haunting and atmospheric beauty and really touching in the best moments of Choir and guitar interplay. Then off to the Schlachthof to catch some music there, but ran into writer Stuart Nicholson and over 2 beers we discussed the status of jazz in the world … very interesting indeed. Then a bit of Elephant9 with Reine Fiske, which was pretty amazing and is a band I can only recommend, and off to have a drink with some friends from Vienna. A fun night.

Just a breakfast meeting on Sunday and then back home … with lots of work and ideas to follow through on. And being a bit exhausted and tired, but that is part of coming back from jazzahead, which seems to still grow and becoming more important – a fact that will see jazzahead move next year to bigger premises within the Congress Centre … more meetings …… and showcases!

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