Elbjazz Festival in Hamburg

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater at Elbjazz Festival in Hamburg on Friday. Photo by Mathias Kreft

It is really a spectacular location – in the middle of huge cranes and machine halls on the grounds of the Blohm & Voss shipyard. You can only get there by walking through the tunnel which connects the harbour with the dockyard and which runs under the Elbe river. Shuttle buses are connecting the different stages and I went to the Old Harbour stage first where singer Allan Harris performed songs from his most recent album “Black Bar Jukebox”. He played with a German band and like on his album, his own songs worked best (like “Miami”). He also had the privilege of performing while it was dry outside. Almost all stages are outdoors and this year, it was no exception with the cold and rainy weather. I told a music fan during the Ed Motta performance that they should move the festival to the summer months and guess what the reply was from this guy who lived in Hamburg? “It is raining here all year round”.

Anyway Ed Motta‘s show was his usual funky and soulful Brazilian/Soul keyboard and vocal-heavy affair with lots of great solos. Before that, Dee Dee Bridgewater and the UMO Jazz Orchestra from Finland performed songs from her new New Orleans-themed album “Dee Dee’s Feathers” with Irvin Mayfield who was on board as well. A fun, entertaining show with Dee Dee in perfect form.

Stacey Kent and the Quatuor Ebène played Brazilian standards and some originals later on Friday night. It is always refreshing and nice to hear those well-familiar tunes in another context, like in this case with the four strings of the group, Stacey’s husband Jim Tomlinson on sax and Stacey herself. They also did a great rendition of Stevie Wonder‘s “I Can’t Help It”.

Sometimes, it’s the small things that keep on staying in your head and so I had a really bizarre thing happen to me while I was strolling the food court. I ordered a Rheingau Riesling at the wine bar and I got a glass of wine with two ice cubes in it!!! I politely asked for a glass of wine without ice cubes and the woman at the counter looked at me as if I had just asked her to marry her or something. She then just moved the ice cubes out of the glass and gave the glass back to me. I’m still suffering from this culture shock.

But let’s hope for better weather for Elbjazz 2016. They really deserve it and Hamburg is always worth a visit.

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