For me the JazzMadrid15 festival started November 9th with the John Scofield / Joe Lovano Quartet, featuring Ben Street on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. The music they performed came mostly from John Scofield’s latest recording PAST PRESENT and took that very personal album to new heights on stage. Great tracks like Mr. Puffy and the title track were live extremely powerful and intense and the soloing of both main artists was immaculate! Deep musical exchanges of ideas, powerful statements about the artist in their time and their emotions, made this concert a very special one. I am a big fan of Sco and have followed his development with pleasure and still can hear that he is getting better and better …digging deeper into himself to reveal his inner thoughts through his writing and playing.
Next was Marc Ribot with the Young Philadelphians, which consist of Mary Halvorson on guitar, Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass and Calvin Weston on drums. It was –correctly – described to me before I heard this as 70’s Philly Soul meets Ornette Coleman – and that’s what is was: powerful grooves with free flowing guitar improvisations and cool sounds, created with the help of three local strings, which did extremely well to create the amazing overall sound and power of this music. Marc and Mary were tremendous and inspired and the groove section as you would expect from these legendary guys. Masters at Work, no question and worth checking out their Live in Japan album – great!
While sitting backstage after the concert we heard the first news of the Paris attacks ….and they got worse by the minute. What a world we are living in! We are suffering with the victims of the attacks in Paris, Beirut and all the other places where people are killed for religion, economics or politics. As tolerant human beings we will stand together to fight any attack on our liberty and freedom.
Let’s go back to music and stay for another moment with the guitar – another album which features bass master Tacuma is CALL ME HELIUM by Doran Stucker Studer Tacuma – and they play the music of Jimi Hendrix. Swiss guitar hero Christy Doran and his team make these songs their own, add modernity and jazz feel to them and just let go ….perfectly done.
November 15th and it was time to see Kurt Elling again – after some emotional and touching words and a minute of silence for the victims of the attacks in Paris, Kurt opened the evening with La vie en rose, a fitting tribute. He then went through the songs of his latest album Passion World and brought the audience exactly that: a world of passion. His immaculate voice carried these songs, plus a few from earlier recordings, like the amazing Samurai Cowboy from the album THE GATE, into messages of love and harmony and understanding. The storyteller trying to heal the world with his words and emotions. Supported by a great group of musicians – John McLean on guitar, Clark Sommers on bass, Ulysses Owens Jr on drums and new in the team the very talented Stu Mindeman on piano and Hammond B3.
Something different: tenor battle by Hakon Kornstad. This young Norwegian sax player is a major European talent and has many credits to his name as an instrumentalist – now he is adding singing credits to these .. and how unique that is, one can hear on the new Jazzland album ‘tenor battle’. Having created his own ensemble (including harmonium, harpsichord, double bass and percussion) to play a mix of jazz and classical music, he is the singer as well as the sax player on the record (and live). Compositions from Massenet, Tosti, Strauss etc. are the base for the music and Hakons beautiful tenor voice is impressively soaring over the ensemble. A special, unique and truly exceptional combination of two musical worlds through one musical mind.