5th Rockit Festival Groningen

So when Madison McFerrin told the audience about her brandnew Christmas tune last Saturday, she said that she was inspired by Mariah Carey who keeps on topping the charts every year since her Xmas “classic” “All I Want For Christmas Is You” came out and earning 2.6 million Dollars on average. Each year. On this one track alone. Madison’s holiday song will be out this Wednesday. I doubt that it will sell nearly as much as Mariah Carey’s song, but at least she showed her versatility and ability to stretch out and surprise. She played most of the tracks off her “I Hope You Can Forgive Me” LP last Saturday at Rockit Festival in Groningen, but she only had the support of her drummer. But still, it was easy to indulge in the music and the club atmosphere during this 5th edition, which was my first time at this brilliant festival, and hopefully not the last.

Marcus Miller Groningen
Marcus Miller with Donald Hayes (sax) and Russell Gunn (tp) last Saturday at Rockit Festival, Groningen

With a pretty savvy line-up and a hilariously cool location at Groningen’s De Oosterport, this felt like a gathering of hardcore music aficionados out for a night of fun, and an eclectic mix of musicians eager to present their latest efforts. I wasn’t able to catch all of the bands since there were six stages with simultaneous shows, but I saw some amazing sets. It is really hard to believe that Marcus Miller turned 64 this year. I was able to catch him directly in front of the stage and his playing was ultra funky throughout. Both Donald Hayes on sax and Russell Gunn on trumpet added lots of vigor and fanciness to the mix. A pleasantly satisfying set.

Which can also be said about trumpeter Theo Croker who broke through in 2014 with his Okeh release “Afro Physicist”. With his other four LPs he released since then, he managed to build a solid fan base and also honed his skills as one of the most interesting and far-reaching trumpet players around. His mixture of jazz, hip-hop, soul, and r&b and his ability to gain momentum within each genre, is simply a thrill to witness. His style is equally steeped in groove variations as it is in jazz sensibilities. The sum of it sounds truly fascinating.

Sam Gendel Groningen
Sam Gendel and Philippe Melanson @Rockit Festival, Groningen last Saturday.

I also saw this awe-inspiring set by Sam Gendel. His music is transcendental, out of this world and somewhat Sci-Fi. His ambient and experimental way on the sax, together with Philippe Melanson on electronic percussion, was a trip. Somehow abstract, each segment or piece was slowly but surely coming together as one. His sustained notes and moods are able to put you at ease in a most comforting way. If you’re ready to get involved with it. If you can, please check them out at London’s Barbican tomorrow or Amsterdam’s Paradiso on Friday. His new album “Audiobook” just came out too.

Cécile McLorin Salvant last Saturday @Rockit Festival, Groningen

Cécile McLorin Salvant was in the house too – I could only stay for about three songs though. I’m lucky to have witnessed her several times now and really look forward seeing her in Hamburg in early March, but from what I’ve heard and seen last Saturday, she’s still clearly one of the most imaginative and unique vocalists around these days. The way she stretches and bends notes and her voluminous phrasing are simply spellbinding.

I’ve already marked my calendar for November 9th, 2024 for the sixth edition. This is a highly entertaining festival. Lots of fun was had by all. Truly recommended!

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