Sunday, March 07, 2004

Week-end round-up

4 concerts in 4 days (Jef Neve Trio, Sylvie Courvoisier, Vandermark 5, Lundis d'Hortense Festival) is a nice run, even if I only really enjoyed 2 of the 4 nights.

Jef's trio was better by leaps and bounds than what I heard just under a year ago. He's recording a new CD aimed at a November release, which should be excellent.

The Vandermark 5 was MINDBLOWING! I'd never seen them before, nor Ken Vandermark himself, and was simply overwhelmed. I was most impressed by the combination of brawny free jazz playing and smart writing/arranging that kept the concert moving forward and not stagnating in some morass of meaningless energy. I've written about it for Citizen Jazz, maybe I'll write something in english for One Final Note.

The second day of the Lundi d'Hortense (I missed the first day in favour of Vandermark) was rather underwhelming. It started out with guitarist Peter Hertmans's trio, playing slow-moving ECM-ish kind of stuff of little interest. Then he brought out three young horn players, most impressive of whom was Tim Dejonghe, who, after fumbling about a bit in a bop vein, found a Miles circa Jack Johnson groove, which energised the rest of the band and got them into a great rock beat.

Then 20-year-old saxophonist Robin Verheyen gave a very good trio concert, playing original compositions and some jazz standards like Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti" and Monk's "Introspection." He's got a fair amount of "heir apparent" hype around him at the moment, but he's both technically gifted and smart, so hopefully he'll fulfill the potential made apparent during this concert. Interestingly, Wayne Shorter sounded like a big influence at first, but a few hours later at the jam session, he was playing just like Charlie Parker.

The main part of the festival ended with pianist Diedrik Wissel's world music extravaganza: harmonica, cello, guitars/saz, bass and drums/percussion, with singer Fay Claassen joining in at the end. It's one of those things where you're supposed to bask in the music's well-arranged internationalist beauty, but I found it rather dull and drifted off a fair amount. The last straw was when on the last song, Wissel took a solo consisting of running up and down a scale in the most harmonically and rythmically uninteresting way possible, over and over. It was one of those moments where you felt like heckling was appropriate, just to show him that someone was paying attention and ready to call him on his shit. If only I had those kind of balls. Other minus points were that the band as a whole, and the harmonica and guitars especially, were way over amplified. Thankfully, they never rose much above a self-satisfied mezzo-forte. One thing I did find cool were the frequent unissons between cello and harmonica: an unexpected combination that really worked.

From what I was told, the first day of the festival was dominated by a fabulous performance by Jef's trio, which pleased me much. Saxophonist Bart Defoort's quartet and guitarist Marco Locurcio's electronic group sandwiched Jef, but I didn't get the feeling that either did anything to write home about. So, interestingly, the younger musicians will have stolen the show this year. A good sign, I guess.