FESTIVAL: Day Three of 2015 Inntoene (Hannes Riepler/Chris Cheek, Walt Weiskopf, Kenny Werner. Dee Alexander/Kirk Lightsey)

Fanfare Shavale at 2015 Inntoene Festival


Inntoene Jazz Festival 2015 
(Diersbach, Austria. Sunday 24th May. Day Three Review by Alison Bentley)

In the farmyard’s undercover area, with its benches, trestle tables and friendly atmosphere, Fanfare Shavale played rumbustious, brassy gypsy music (like a fireball, someone said). They come from a tiny Eastern Romanian village where every male can play at least one brass instrument.

There was plenty of time between sets to drink beer, socialise, and eat produce grown on the farm, cooked and served by local people. You could even buy exotic percussion instruments next to a comprehensive CD stall. In an ancient wooden building, up rickety stairs, was an exhibition of exquisite Miro-like prints and drawings by Elke Rott.

Back in the massive barn, Austrian guitarist Hannes Riepler was playing his own music with his mostly British band. In several pieces- Up, for instance, the melody went in one direction, but Oli Hayhurst’s rich-toned bass seemed to play notes from different chords altogether- filled in with tense, fast-moving phrases. The band restated them like stepping stones through the solos. US sax-player Chis Cheek, with his gutsy hard bop tone, played stormily in The Storm, Kit Downes’ piano crashing in response. Riepler’s angular solo made a fast response to the slalom-like chords, with a brooding groove (he admires Kurt Rosenwinkel and Wolfgang Muthspiel.) Now Do It was rockier, a convoluted theme thrillingly at odds with the almost flamenco chords. Downes’ solo careered back and forth from major to minor with such expressiveness- you felt he was completely open to whatever was happening. Tyrol Tyrol began with Jon Scott’s rustling cymbals before the tension built into a fast samba. You could almost hear the Tyrolean hairpin bends.

The (American)Walt Weiskopf- (German) Johannes Enders Quintet’s “Saxophone Colossus" set opened with a fiercely boppish composition written specially for the Festival- Inntoene. Next was Weiskopf’s Invisible Sun (Weiskopf:‘We hadn’t planned on that title being so appropriate!’) His tenor blended beautifully with Enders’, but you could hear their distinctive sounds as they soloed- Weiskopf smooth but with a bite; Enders more pugnacious and darker in tone. The two tenors chattered together brilliantly over the Latin end of Expressionist. In the swinging Crosstalk, Enders’ soprano seemed to cut out delicate Oriental shapes- there was a special moment when Weiskopf weaved a long note through them on tenor. Rowles’ Peacocks was a high point- one tenor played part of the melody then overlapped with the other tenor’s harmony lines- a sumptuous arrangement. The audience loved this- it felt a vulnerable moment in the midst of the set’s gritty swing, kept in line by Thomas Stabenow on bass and Christian Salfellner on drums. In Stone, Oliver Kent’s piano pushed an Oscar Peterson sense of swing into some more dissonant harmonies, and Weiskopf played with scratchy speed, earthing his solo with bluesy phrases.

US pianist Kenny Werner and Danish saxophonist Benjamin Koppel had met when Koppel invited the former to play at Copenhagen Jazz Festival. ‘He was so happy to know someone liked his CD, he gave me some gigs,’ joked Werner. Koppel’s Enigma began freely, with flurries of notes. Koppel at times had the plaintive sound of Gabarek; at others, the soulfulness of Sanborn. Walden, the title track of their pastoral duo album, had impressionistic piano with shades of Poulenc, Ravel and Debussy- then some bluesy Monk. Their response to each other was miraculously intuitive. Werner’s Balloons was folkier, even incorporating part of the song Barbara Allen; but then it became darker and more Latin. If I Should Lose You was very free and playful; they seemed to be taking it in turns to chase each other. It became a ballad so simple and beautiful that the audience seemed to be holding its breath; applause was saved till the end so as not to break the spell. Then the music increased to such a pitch of intensity that the entire audience was on its feet.

It seemed as if the stage was Chicago singer Dee Alexander’s natural milieu- she was so relaxed, she could have been singing to 800 people in her living room. Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise was taken from her new CD Songs My Mother Loved, on Paul Zauner’s PAO label. Her voice was gospel-edged and full-toned, like early Dianne Reeves, or a gentle Dee Dee Bridgewater. She hit a note right in the centre like a muted trumpet and held it while Stéphane Belmondo’s actual trumpet improvised round it, supported by Kirk Lightsey’s excellent boppy piano. A daringly reharmonised Perdido had Alexander scatting humorously, like Sarah Vaughan. In her own Butterfly, she improvised playfully, like a butterfly talking to itself, over an intricate bass pulse fromWolfram Derschmidt, and Dusan Novakov’s driving drums..In herLonesome Lover, Alexander’s majestic tone became a Bessie Smith growl, while in Love Me or Leave Me, she embellished the tune with an instrumentalist’s freedom. ‘This music does as much for me as it does for you!’she said.

There was more music to come- then an anxious thought intruded: would the car be buried in the glutinous mud? But like everything else, the parking had been immaculately organised. How could anything in this Festival be stuck-in-the-mud?

LINKS: PREVIEW/INTERVIEW
Day One Round-Up
Day Two Round-Up

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