Jazz festivals are always a get-together with a lot of friends and colleagues from all over but it was a bit of a surprise last night when I ran into Prof. Dr. Ilse Storb. I hadn’t seen her in many years – but she hasn’t changed at all. Except for a new leg!
The 50th anniversary of the Berlin Jazzfest started off with guitarist and saxophonist Elliott Sharp and his group Terraplane. Sharp had been asked to create a musical tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, who visited the city back in 1964 and also wrote the introductory words for the first Jazztage which were to become the Jazzfest as it is known now.
It was a bit of a mixed bag. Sharp wanted, as he said, “to weave a sonic cloth composed of our own current extrapolations flavored by a hint of Memphis in 1964” and yes, it did find open ears but the addition of Tracie Morris and Eric Mingus with their poets and vocals and voices in some instances sounded a bit clustered and just thrown in. Also, using a multi-dimensional artist with his visuals shown on a big screen would have added some spice, but where were they? I only saw a couple of visuals and think it would have been much better without them. But I couldn’t concentrate on the music anyway because was constantly moving back and forth and around the stage. Even in the long instrumental parts where he didn’t had to step up to the mic. I felt that I had to stand up from my seat on the balcony and shout out to him: “Eric please why can’t you stand still for just a moment”. Or two. It was really very distracting.
Drummer Eva Klesse and her Quartet showed their remarkable, individual, real group sound as the second act on the main stage. A true discovery which is something a Jazz festival must deliver.
Meanwhile, here I am coming back from a walk with Gina when I found a CD package from Los Angeles in my mailbox. It was due many many weeks ago and it took nine weeks to arrive. LA and Berlin are partner cities. Seems that both cities’ postal services have a lot in common.