FESTIVAL REPORT: Final Night of the 2015 WDR3 Jazz Festival in Dortmund

Lorenz Raab leaps on as guest with the Thomas Rückert Trio
WDR3 JAzzfest 2015. Photo credit: Lutz Voigtlaender

German writer Tobias Richtsteig. who was covering the WDR3 Jazzfest in Dortmund for the magazine JAZZTHETIK, offered us his impressions of the final night of the Festival(*). He writes:

Saturday's final evening of the WDR3 Jazzfest, following on from the WDR Jazz Prize gala in the Konzerthaus on the Friday (REVIEWED HERE), was cross-cutting backwards and forwards into and out of the radio station's ambitious "Long Night of Jazz“, in partnership with Austrian Radio. The bill presented four concerts, among which it was far from obvious which was intended to stand out as the headliner. So, for the audience at Domicil, it was going to be an evening of surprises, starting with the sudden arrival of a guest with the Thomas Rückert Trio

Thomas Rückert Trio

The trio formed by pianist Thomas Rückert with his younger colleagues Reza Askari (bass) and Fabian Arends (drums) is neither about loud experimentation, nor are they out to tear down barriers between genres. Quite the contrary, Rückert is a lyrical pianist reminiscent of Bill Evans. His trio also thrives on the constant interaction between its participants. The dense musical textures which they were collectively weaving held the audience in thrall, in ballads, in modal grooves, and finally when trumpeter Lorenz Raab launched in as guest. This was a masterclass in the freedom of jazz improvisation, but without needing recourse to the vocabulary of free jazz.

Jazzpaña
WDR3 JAzzfest 2015. Photo credit: Lutz Voigtlaender


Jazzpaña

The changeover of the stage for the second concert took the whole hour which had been allotted, and the show started on schedule at 10pm, linking in to a live broadcast. All those preparations were for Jazzpaña. This was the third, eagerly awaited third instalment of a crossover project started by Siggi Loch of the ACT Label as far back as 1992.

Back then, it involved the Spanish guitarist Gerardo Núñez and jazz musicians such as Michael Brecker and the WDR Bigband. Two decades later in Dortmund, Núñez's flamenco guitar encountered Ulf Wakenius (guitar) und Christof Lauer on tenor and soprano saxes as the jazz musicians, and the Cuban trio around pianist Ramon Valle.

While jazz, flamenco and Afro-Caribbean tradition only converged with some effort, the virtuoso artistry of the musicians allowed the listener to hear beyond that.

Lorenz Raab Quartet 

An unusual combination of instruments does not guarantee extraordinary music. Nevertheless, the forces combined in Austrian trumpeter Lorenz Raab's quarted had clearly involve a substantial amount of forethought. The second voice, opposite Raab, was that of guitarist Mathias Löscher, with bassist Matthias Pichler and the drummer Lucas Niggli. These four, set up in a semi-circle, took the stage with the energy of a rock band. Even though the individual pieces often lasted an uncharacteristically short time for jazz, they did transport the listener into an individual sound-world, in which unison lines impressionistically orchestrated contrasted with the interplay of independent voices. Whereas the classically trained trumpeter Raab and his colleagues - especially the drummer Lucas Niggli – are musicians of real subtlety, now and then, they did intermittently bring echoes of Miles Davis' guitar bands to mind.

Frank Woeste
WDR3 JAzzfest 2015. Photo credit: Lutz Voigtlaender


 Frank Woeste 

To bring the festival to a close, the pianist Frank Woeste then came on as solo pianist. This native of Hanover has hardly been known at all in Germany up until now, whereas in France he plays with the stars of his generation, such as Médéric Collognon and Ibrahim Maalouf. By the time he came on at 1.15am, only about a quarter of the audience was still there. "The Art Of Re-Invention“ was the title of one of his pieces, in which he combined the harmonic language of Romantic music with stylistic elements of Pop and minimalist music, to create intimate chamber music for the 21st century. After the solo piano concert of Kaja Draksler on the first evening of the festival, this set brought the festival to an impressive conclusion.

LINKS: Report on the first two nights of the Festival
Report on the 2015 Jazz Prize Concert
The WDR3 Jazzfest on the WDR website 

(*) Tobias wrote for us in German and this is our translation

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