ROUND-UP (2): Jazz & the City 2018, Salzburg

"One of the highlights of the festival"
Florian Weber and Markus Stockhausen
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Jazz & The City
(Various venues in Salzburg, 18-19 October 2018. Round-Up by Ralf Dombrowski)

Ralf Dombrowki follows on from Sebastian's review of the start of  2018 Jazz & the City (*).  

It's fascinating, this city where you can see from the architecture that it likes its music. The Solitär hall in the new Mozarteum building has a large panoramic window looking out towards the Mönchsberg. Elsewhere such a development might have fallen victim to real estate speculators, the location could hardly be more exclusive, nestling by the courtly elegance of the Mirabell Palace and also within shouting distance of the Stadttheater. And yet Salzburg has chosen to reward itself with music.

Then there is Tina Heine, taking responsibility for the programme of the Jazz & The City Festival for the third time. She has a good and instinctive understanding that a space like this calls out for high culture, and so she makes sure that it offers projects that will rise to the occasion on the important closing Saturday of the festival.

Tamar Halperin and Guy Sternberg
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski


There is, for example, pianist Tamar Halperin, concentrating on Satie, Cage and Chick Corea in a duo with electronic musician Guy Sternberg. He works in a very understated and subtle way. This duo has little to do with the core business of jazz, but it does offer the opportunity to experience the miniatures of Satie the French eccentric through multiple textures and in a highly atmospheric setting. As evening descends, one watches the brightly-lit art museum on the Mönchsberg; it seems to hover in the darkness like a spaceship.

And after that, one of the highlights of the festival: trumpeter Markus Stockhausen presents more than an hour of different musical worlds in duo with pianist Florian Weber. Here, too, chamber music is the inspiration, but it is there to define an attitude to sound rather than to influence the shape or structure. These two musicians both individually and as a team, are phenomenal instrumentalists who have been developing their own forms of phrasing for a long time, their ways to encircle musical nuclei, and to make sure that their artistic energy blazes through.

Ralf Towner anf Pablo Held
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Stockhausen and Weber were stretching the limits of the empathy and the openness that can be reached in a duo performing a concert, and by comparison, the combination of the Pablo Held Trio with the guitarist Ralph Towner seemed almost tame. During the same early evening at the Stadttheater, they were giving their attention to similar questions of the artistic foundation of improvisation, but got stuck much more on the surface of the formal, which ultimately led to an expression of harmony rather than much boldness or daring.

By contrast, the percussionist Edward Perraud and the saxophonist Thomas de Pourquery were being bold and courageous, the former in a quartet in the Bösendorfersaal of the Mozarteum, which turned out to be a laboratory experiment into free-flowing complexity, and the latter as the final act of the evening on the main stage of the Szene Club, with a somewhat overwrought version of avant-garde pop jazz. But one can send oneself up blind alleys making judgments or looking for meanings; each of these concerts on the Saturday was an experience in its own right. And how happy is the city that has quite so much music to listen to.

(*) Ralf Dombrowski's original German is published by the Jazzzeitung




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