Lotte Anker, Tim Berne, Matt Maneri, Hank Roberts, Marc Ducret, Nils Davidsen, Gerald Cleaver in Copenhagen

Teatermuseet Copenhagen, 12th July 2012
Left to right: Marc Ducret, Mat Maneri, Tim Berne, Gerald Cleaver, Lotte Anker,
Nils Davidsen. (Not in photo: Hank Roberts). Photo credit: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen/ www.jazz.dk

Yes. All those seven names were on stage at the same time, in a genuinely imaginatively conceived festival project. This is a super-group in its field, but it wasn't just something bought-in: Lottte Anker's Still Arriving was a creatively thought-through, artistically-led venture, presenting an artist performing on her own terms. It's what festivals are for, you might say. Seven musicians on the stage of the Teatermuseet i Hofteatret (Theatre Museum/ Court Theatre) a fabulous little theatre tucked away deep in the Christiansborg Palace. The variety and concentration of the listening was extraordinary, unremittingly intense.

When playing together the band often took a melody line without fixed timing but, moving together, gave it what Billy Jenkins calls "collective polyphony" or Nick Evans calls "all of us thinking of the same melody."

When playing in smaller combinations it was about the freedoms of contrast, and the assertion of difference while being completely attuned to the other(s). Tim Berne and Lotte Anker on saxophones - they had co-conceived the project -  were pitting Berne's directive simplicity and strongly focussed tone against Anker's perorations into multiphonics and microtones. The three stringed instruments also fascinating ways to co-exist. I was completely captivated by Hank Roberts' capacity to serve as a powerful rhythm engine, not with power or volume or but with  with the quietest form of assertiveness imaginable. Gerald Cleaver was alive to, well  everything, and proved particularly responsive in one duet with Ducret. It was astonishing to hear Marc Ducret, with his stadium-scale musical presence, thinking, living the room in King Christian VII's tiny jewel of a theatre from 1767. What a great project.

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