Tampere Jazz, a snowy jazz marathon

When you are invited to report a festival, two solutions are available to you: try to discover all the artists, even if it means losing a little discernment on listening and a lot of energy, or choosing the concerts that suit you in advance. inspire. Newbie, I choose the first solution.

In Tampere, the program is loaded. With these 40 previous editions, the festival is oiled wonderfully. With 25 concerts in 3 days, the festival alternates between the great hall of the Pakkahuone (600 seats), the Klubi (350 seats) and the Tellaka, a picturesque tavern with crazy charm (200 seats, half of which are seated at tables with red tablecloths at tiles).

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Emmeluth sign © Maarit Kytöharju

This 41st edition of Tampere Jazz Happeningfrom November 3 to 6, 2022, promises alternation between headliners, local artists to discover and dancing after-parties to the sound of Afro jazz.

It all started for me on Thursday evening at the Klubi, with the quartet Emmeluth’s Amoeba. A piano, guitar and drums united to highlight the saxophonist Emmeluth sign, indisputable leader. A convincing group, the public is not mistaken. Klubi is full as an egg and the atmosphere is warmer, the public welcoming each solo.

The threesome Moscow which takes over with a more experimental jazz, will have difficulty in bringing down the public but all the same seduces thanks to sophisticated compositions which confirm their position as a flagship group of the Norwegian jazz scene.

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Anja Lauvdal © Maarit Kytöharju

Friday evening opens with the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Danish drummer Stephan Pasborg, who perform “Ritual Dances” his latest recording. He explains that he grew up in a family of ballet dancers and, at the age of 3, had a strong experience by attending the ballet of the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. The 16 musicians of the orchestra are led by master baton by Ed PartykaStephan’s drums and his improvisational qualities bring a modernity that makes the copy almost perfect.

I then fell completely under the spell of the Tellaka and the opening concert, Plop and Junnu. Thanks to an impeccable rhythm, the saxophonist Mikko Innanen and the flautist Juhani Aaltonen are having a field day. They even allow themselves battles saxophones/flutes and put the whole tavern in their pockets. We feel free and happy, the public too.

The rest of the evening at the Tellaka sees the Selma Savolainen Horror Vacui and Lightboxer. I discover that attending all the concerts is mission impossible and decide to concentrate on the concert of the saxophonist Nubya Garcia on the Pakka scene, as the locals say, including myself!

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Nubya Garcia © Maarit Kytöharju

Nubya arrives on stage with a reggae jazz of more than 10 minutes which sets the tone. A white blouse, baggy jeans, reflective white boots, the Londoner from Camden Town, sometimes with her legs together, sometimes apart in a posture well anchored to the ground, conquers the public thanks to very accessible music and very pleasant interludes. Some find them a bit long, for my part, I see in them an honesty and a joy to be on stage and to interact with the Finnish public.

We feel the good understanding between her and her drummer Sam Jones. They are also performing a brand new piece as a duo. The pianist Deschanel Gordon, he faces the public and does not often look up from his keyboards to see his comrades. His game is in no way disturbed. The bass-player Max Luthert is solid and discreet and balances everything. Above all, we note a great ability of the quartet to work on the nuances of sound, which, in my opinion, is all too rare in concerts…

This Friday ends at the Klubi for the last concert which starts at 1am, the Helsinki-Cotonou Togetheror the encounter between the Finnish guitarist Janne Halonen and the Beninese singer and percussionist Noel Saizonou. Fascinated by Lionel Loueke, Janne went to Benin to study Voodoo rhythms. This is where he meets Noel. Since then they have played in fifteen countries and have just released their 5th album.

The concert brings this beautiful day to a wonderful close and, while the temperatures have dropped considerably outside, the heat given off by the band allows the whole audience to waddle around in their t-shirts to the sound of Afrobeat. The meeting between Finland and Benin is playing out before our eyes for our greatest happiness.

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Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Chris Corsano, Mette Rasmussen © Maarit Kytöharju

After a well-deserved night, hostilities open on Saturday at 2 p.m., with an absolutely frenzied performance by the Mette Rasmussen Trio North. The trio immediately sends us into the ropes with an energetic and completely stunning free jazz. It takes me a little time for my freshly rested ears to get used to it, but the proposed set highlights the quality of the improvisations of the alto saxophonist of Danish origin.

A set surely too intense besides to open the afternoon because the two groups which follow will not mark my spirit.

At 8 p.m., we should have attended the concert of Ron Carter who unfortunately canceled his visit for health reasons. He is replaced at short notice by the Cuban pianist Ramon Valle and his quintet. We admire the performance and the boundless generosity of the pianist, who will not erase the bitterness left by the absence of the American double bass player who is becoming increasingly rare on stage. At 85, we won’t blame him…

The concerts at the Tellaka are very different from those of the day before, and this is where the talent of the artistic director of this festival lies, Juhammatii Kauppinen. The atmosphere is colder, more Nordic with three Finnish groups, Kadi Vija Key Project, Joona Toivanen Trio and Varre Vartiainen Almost Standards Live! + Severi Pyysalo.

As the snow begins to fall outside, the icy sheets and the religious listening imposed by the groups do not manage to train me. I’m off to warm up at the Pakkahuone to the sound of Seppo Kantonen Bias. At the center of the stage, the double bass player Ole Morten Vagan swings its rhythms, the breathers exult all in turn in their respective solos. Everything is immaculate.

I remain a little on my hunger concerning the delivery of Theo Crocker “Love Quantum”. The style is present, it lacks, to convince me, a good dose of commitment both on the part of the leader and the group that accompanies him. At 1 o’clock, it’s the Ethiopian vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke which allows the public to finally let go. The standing format of the Klubi is ideal for ending evenings; this concert is too. The November 5 marathon is coming to an end, my ears are ringing but my heart is light and a smile glued to my lips.

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GRIO © Maarit Kytöharju

The syndrome of French abroad does indeed exist, that of being proud of one’s homeland when one is 3000 km away. And the joy that accompanies it when we find compatriots, here the group GRIO, the only French group in this 41st edition. The difficulty, when one is a journalist, is not to be chauvinistic, to keep a neutral judgment, without favouritism. I specify, but the performance of the group was great! Seven French musicians and a Finnish pianist, Aki Rissanen, who has been established in France for a few years. The rhythmic is in place but almost invisible so much the blowers eat up the space.

Simon Girard bounces on stage while blowing his trombone. Beside him, seated, the trumpeter Fred Roudet groove discreetly, supported by the other trumpeter Aymeric Avice, the air more nonchalant but the certain breath. We feel at the saxophonist Gerald Chevillon, a great musical richness, both in his solos and in his compositions, which makes us want to write his name down in a corner and follow him closely. Big crush finally for Damien Sabatier, who even manages to make the public laugh by indulging in a battle facing himself, between his enormous baritone saxophone and a very small pipe. It’s a success, the room is conquered, the applause very warm and reassures me about my fairness of judgment. the Grand Imperial Orchestra lives up to its name and we will keep an eye out for the release of their next album scheduled for fall 2023.

Two mystical concerts follow. First, that of the saxophonist Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few. We know Isaiah’s admiration for John Coltrane. He recorded his last album, Cosmic Transitionson Coltrane’s birthday and with the same technical device used for A love Supreme. On stage, Isaiah appears with his eyes hidden behind huge frilly glasses. His playing is powerful, his music solar, the Coltranian references are numerous and perfectly assumed. Jeremiah Hunt on the double bass, Julian Davis Raid on the piano and James Russell Sims on the drums are insolent of relaxation. They too seem inhabited. Jeremiah delivers a double bass solo lasting more than five minutes, without opening his eyes once. Isaiah is believed to do the same behind his glasses; we have the proof when he removes his mask. Everything becomes mystical and we necessarily think, at the end of the concert, that reincarnation – all or part – exists…

The sequence with the last Pakkahuone concert owes nothing to chance but to the talent of the programmer since it is a tribute to Alice Coltrane, provided by another American, from Chicago this one, the drummer and percussionist Hamid Drake. While the concert is in full swing, the leader launches into a speech that is a little too long. The tribute deserves an explanation of the link between the singer and the great lady. He also explained that he met her at the age of 16 and felt like a transmission during their handshake. But ten minutes of speech on a concert of one hour, it is long and it cracks the bubble in which the group had installed us.

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I Like To Sleep © Rami Marjamäki

A very last concert is announced in the program, the group I Like to Sleep at 9 p.m. at the Tellaka. So, with such a name, I expected a smooth closing of the festival, what was my surprise when I entered the tavern. An overdriven baritone guitar held by Nicolas Leirtro. On the battery, Oyvind Leite sends heavy, as they say. A metronome over 100 bpm. More discreet in his playing, the vibraphonist Amund Storlokken Ase brings a little flexibility to the tense and nervous game of his companions. The trio is unleashed, they deliver a strong performance in a Telleka full to bursting and delighted to take this last slap.

This new edition has once again kept its promises. The city of Tampere, the third most attractive city in Finland, has a bright future ahead of it. The city is betting on culture, it will even claim the title of European Capital of Culture in 2028. That’s all we wish for it.

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Tampere Jazz, a snowy jazz marathon

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