Guelph Jazz Festival: Guelph, Canada, September 7-11, 2011
Together with the normal jazz festival schedule, Guelph also hosted a nuit Blanche, filled with performances that could satisfy the expectations of the most specialized melomaniac noctambule. Here's a hint of what you could discover, like so many freshmen just arrived in the city for the beginning of the fall term, in the middle of the night.
Miya Masaoka's "Geographies" interlaced electronics, koto and laser koto in a performance that resounded with intermedial poetry. A mix of natural sounds, electronically sampled and reproduced, interlocked with Masaoka's alternatively vigorous and gracious pizzicatos and bowed chords. The additional gestures required by the laser koto, suggesting the mindful corporeal idiom of Tai Chi, visually contributed to the holistic aesthetic of Masaoka's performance. Her solo show revealed the possibilities carried within the dialogue between jazz, technology, soundscape recordings and the creativity of a highly original improviser.
French cellist Didier Petit's "North by Northwest Series" presented the audience with an intimate, meditative solo. Petit sat in the midst of a yoga studio, barefoot, treating his cello like a musical materialization of his own stream of consciousness. The cello was, at times, waved in the air to make its sound resonate even longer. The strings touched, grasped in a sudden pizzicato, smoothly and then aggressively embraced by the bow.
His suite opened a breach into the Mediterranean landscapes of the mind, with vocals hinting at both muezzin prayers and at the Berber Raiss tradition of Francophone North Africa. For a moment, Guelph's maple trees turned into the palms of a desert mirage, with all of their magic.
Francois Houle's "Aerials" enchanted everyone until the very first sparks of dawn. His relationship with the clarinet is one of utter love, mixed with absolute command and never-ending research. His performance unfolded as a deconstructive spell, his breath slowly moving from the fully formed woodwind instrument to the sole mouthpiece. After each section, a piece of the clarinet was carefully removed, but the sound did not lose an inch of its sharp clarity nor of its seductive emotional texture.
The excited concentration of his percussive playing with the clarinet keys mixed with the warmth of long-held notes, as well as with the hypnotizing vibrations of his ascending phrases.
Passing from original compositions to subtle and incisive arrangements of the John Carter and Benny Goodman repertoires, Houle charmed the public with the same researched intensity that he shows in his latest recording with Benoit Delbecq, Because She Hoped (Songlines, 2011).
Creative Collective featuring Kidd Jordan, Joel Futterman, William Parker and Alvin Fielder
By 10:30 am, everyone was wide awake; a few hours of sleep after the nuit blanche was enough. The adrenaline released by such a concentrated intake of jazz kicks was enough to make the eyes spark and the mind wide open.
The Creative Collective
From left: Joel Futterman, William Parker, Alvin Fiedler, Kidd Jordan
Bassist William Parker, tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan, pianist Joel Futterman and drummer Alvin Fielder embraced the audience with a series of free jazz climaxes, seemingly aimed at the infinite that this art form allows to manifest.
The group's mind-blowing fortissimos, led by Jordan's screaming saxophone riffs, seemed the most emotional and heartfelt expression to honor the overwhelming significance of the concert date: the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Instead of a prevailing melancholic feel, however, shaped in a low-toned whirlwind of sorrow, the group's show developed over a soulful sentiment of moral and emotional strength, heightened by fast tempos and loud dynamics. It was a memorable set, on such a significant day.
Page 1, Jean Derome and Alain Derbez: Frank Rubolino
Page 1, William Parker: Aldon Nielsen
Page 2, Marianne Trudel, Trygve Seim: Frank Rubolino
Page 2, Christine Duncan: courtesy of the Guelph Jazz Festival
Page 2, Veryan Weston and Trevor Watts: Aldon Nielsen
Page 3, Craig Taborn and Lotte Anker: Aldon Nielsen
Page 3, The Necks: Aldon Nielsen
Page 3, Henry Threadgill: Frank Rubolino
Page 4, Didier Petit: Frank Rubolino
Page 4, The Creative Collective: courtesy of the Guelph Jazz Festival