Today’s Germany is a federation and Saxony is one of the states that compose it, in German Freistaat Sachsen. And although Dredes is its capital, Leipzig is its largest city. And for 46 years, the Jazztage Festival, born in the German Democratic Republic, has continued to offer a very dense week of jazz to the already spoiled population in terms of music.
- Leipzig Opera © Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH
Leipzig is the city of Bach, and Salzburg is the city of Mozart. But in the same way, it is much more than that and something else. Leipzig is also the city of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Wagner. It is also the city that witnessed a peaceful revolution in 89 that amplified even the cries of “Weir Send das Volk”.
Leipzig offers all the advantages of a tourist city, with many wonderful monuments and buildings, a very ancient history, a very active modern life and many areas that are still popular and out of reach of European improvement, which makes Berlin think of the early 90s, but with a real network of trails session.
To get there from Berlin, the train is fast and direct, and there is also a direct plane connection between Paris-Orly and Leipzig airports.
Invited by the festival and the Leipzig Tourist Office, I was able to attend some great concerts and visit an attractive and presentable city.
It all starts on the first night at the Leipzig Opera. The building was reconstructed in 1960 and lights up late in the evening. The wooded room is full to hear the South African solo pianist, but resident of Munich, Abdullah Ibrahim. The 88-year-old star performs on the edge of the stage, vocally, in a classic style.
- Abdullah Ibrahim © Lucas Diller
He is part of the first generation programmed at the festival whose slogan “Talkin’ bout my gil” is taken from a song by The Who. The program features musicians between the ages of 20 and 88, as a testament to the resilience of this improvised music.
The pianist’s performance consists in repeating the melodic motifs he extracts from a piece, some seeming to die on the way, others to evaporate before they touch the ground. We feel a certain fatigue in the game, even if muscle memory allows for nice flights and nice chords, despite the disjointed narrative. It’s time for the stage and audience to change and the opera house gets a little full with the British saxophonist’s concert Nuba Garcia in the quartet. The contrast doesn’t work in its favour, and its punchy, punchy, duet music (starts with a long dub-style track) as electronic and echo effects on the sax and elsewhere drown out the fish and give the impression of continuous déjà vu.
- Werk 2 / Leipzig © Lukas Diller
You have to leave the historic city center and pedestrianized to go south of the city, in the Konwitzer cruise area to reach the Werk 2 complex. It is a former industrial building housing restaurants, shops, a cinema and auditoriums. The concert. Brick and metal are everywhere. There, in a chair room, in club mode, the group TAU5 It will take the audience on a mind-blowing journey. The sounds seem to come straight from an orchestra imagined by George Lucas, the powerful sound making the beer vibrate in my glass. A certain trance is engraved in the moving objects, the rhythms setting the ripples while the keyboards cover the whole. on tenor sax Philip Gruber sue, focused on her star choirs.
- Philip Gruber / TAU5 © Lukas Diller
Outside, the audience is taking in fresh air before the last concert, the one by the electronics hack Moritz von Oswald. Then, a crowded night bus brings everyone back to the center. In just a few hours, the festival takes you from a glamorous opera house to a club of odds and ends, from an audience at its best on Sundays to a mixed and somewhat disjointed young audience. Promises!
The next afternoon, after spending the morning visiting the famous lanes, the Museum of Ultra Modern Art and some famous squares such as St. Thomas Church and Bach’s Cemetery, head west for the city and the friendly Kolonnadenstraße where there is a local community, gallery, café, library … where Triple love. Double bass, drum, drum and guitar in front of a narrow audience of about thirty people and a few other people on the sidewalk. Open doors that allow you to listen, you can listen to these young musicians cover in humorous style the greatest love songs “Only You”, “Love Me Tender” etc. With a very apathetic and discreet, and not so conspicuous, style they make me think of steel guitarist Omar Gujohnson.
- Joe Sachs and Niles Wogram © Susan Gunning
The Leipziger Jazztage offers a great selection of concerts but they are programmed in place and time in such a way that you can go from one to the other without running around or missing half of it. We head back down (the tram is very efficient) south to Paul Gerhardt’s church, a simple nave full of numbered benches, to witness an amazing duo, Jill’s story once again. This is the trombone player Nils Wogram and guitarist Joe Sachs. The spirit of the blues, the music of the devil, fills the place of worship. The guitar, which is very metallic, is associated with trombone curves. It’s a reminder of the shoulder-rubbing New Orleans pew with the loud intrusions of a trombone player. In addition to being beautiful, they are captivating. A long solo of the guitarist, with pulsing feet, punctuates the concert. The chords and vocals on the guitar oscillate between urban blues and folk songs.
How many festivals can gather 200 people on a Sunday afternoon in an out-of-the-way church for an improvised guitar and trombone concert?
Head to the east of the city, a popular and multicultural district, Neuschönefeld where the Ost-Passage-Theatre, a former cinema converted into a concert hall, is located on the edge of a large park and the top floor of the Aldi supermarket. It is amazing and somewhat typical.
- Paul Leighton / The Punk and the Gaffers © Lukas Diller
In this room with a vaulted ceiling there is a duet of a double guitarist military satisfaction and the author tanskool dye. This is an epic in German, English and Persian about the story of the Iranian origins of the musicians, with spoken voice, double bass and soundtrack. The subject escapes me a little, but the show is welcomed by the audience. Then in Part Two, the trio The Punk and the Gaffer (which we’ve already heard on Meteo) ends in the evening: Callie Moberg on the accordion Philip Wassman on the violin and Paul Leighton on battery. Of course, their uncompromising adventurous music isn’t unanimous and audiences are heading out. Also, the trio will be greeted by those who stayed. The trio is now in the bottle and we hear real harmony, an interaction with the propositions – sometimes very intense in terms of timbre – and the humor that goes with them. This type of music that explores areas of audible discomfort has nothing to do with indifference.
It’s raining Leipzig night, the day is coming to an end.
The next day, at the same venue, Kaley performed another Lampen duo. These are the Finns Cali word (Zoo tattoo ronco (Dr). The duo recently released a record on We Jazz, so the music is smooth and easy. The evening is also dedicated to the electric guitar, because then the abacaxi with Julian Despres who takes over. Nowadays, rock compositions follow each other with the big sound of guitar and dry beats on the drums, and they roll very lively. The results are on the desks and sometimes we enter a kind of tunnel of ecstasy that reminds us of good luck to you! Black Emperor, but two! The lights and the vibrancy of the Abacaxi triple crackle will all be awakened in Part Two.
- Musa Yoffe © Lukas Diller
Return to the Werk 2 brick room for another contrasting double top. Or not, Hail Aaron A resident of Leipzig, jazz/hip-hop drummer and instigator delivers a very cool quintet, which passes jazz standards in funk sauce with alto sax evoking Fausto Papeete. The room was full when the eagerly awaited Berlin trio arrived Musa Yuvi. keyboard pianist, Roman Club on guitar/bass and Noah Forbringer on battery. Immediately we are immersed in the sounds of big drums punctuated by plenty of blues, striking the imprint of the dancing audience. The rhythm of Berlin and the lights make this party very efficient and stimulating, like headhunters under speed. Another combination to follow.
The very short trip to the alternative cultural center Die Nato does not allow you to get off right away and the contrast with the last two concerts is amazing. Die Nato is a venue that offers concerts, movies, theater and has a bar. Nice place located in KarLi, the great modern artery that starts from Hyper Center and heads south. We discover the winners of the BMW Young Talents Jazz, two sets from Munich.
Double bass player, lead (but also multi-instrumentalist) Nils Kugelman It presents, from a peak of 26 years, a trio of Luca Zampetto on the piano and Sebastian Wolfgruber on battery. The three musicians have been friends for years, both on and off stage and this cohesion can be heard in their interactions. This powerful trio is not led by a pianist and the music is changed, the rhythm is more plump and the compositions are more vertical. This Bavarian revelation – and a discovery for me – must be taken seriously. The other winner is the quintet saxophonist Moritz Stahl. Five score-focused boys play rich music, full of notes, certainly modern, but traditional. There is less madness in the air.
- Maria Reich at Altes Stadtbad Leipzig © Susann Jehnichen
It’s time to leave Leipzig and the Jazz Festival. The Jazz Club in Leipzig that he organizes is a structure that has no place of its own and organizes this week of festivals every year. The team is young, feminine and very open in terms of programming. The festival has all the advantages of an orientation event that allows discovering new music as much as it allows discovering music in the region. Leipzig is big and has many places where music of all kinds is played: like the famous Moritzbastei – an old 16th century fortified stronghold renovated by students in the 1980s, of which Angela Merkel was part, legend says – the place of restaurants taverns, concert hall or Ut Connewitz whose hall looks like a Greco-Roman temple or the magnificent Byzantine Altes Stadtbad, ancient public baths, etc.
The program of about fifty concerts gives prominence to German groups, but in reasonable proportions and above all with a wide stylistic range. State, city, and federal cultural agencies support the festival, while major sponsors include Ur-krostitzer beer and BMWs. The 46th Leipziger Jazztage has kept all the promises of an important festival where music takes precedence and stakes are assumed.
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