Enjoy Jazz 2012, Days 1-14, October 2-15, 2012
The performance brought to the Old Firehouse in Mannheim by Norwegian musician/producer Jan Bang and Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan was a world premiere. It was the first time that the two musicians had met and played together. Their set, the only one performed in Germany, was flooded with inner musicality and had the special quality improvisation always requires from musicians and audience alike: one has to put something into it in order to get something out of it.
What the two musicians put into the act were the sounds coming from the remote Armenian mountain, which, floating like petals falling to the ground in the morning breeze, were decomposed by Bang's sampler into solitary peaks, and transported to the Norwegian plains by ancestral voices. The crystal clear attack of the keys brought the sound into a more abstract dimension, augmenting with an internal combustion that developed from minimalist progressions into harmonic ramifications of choral solemnity. Solitary melodies, accompanied by Hamasyan's voice, were transformed by feedback into an emerging and receding sea of sounds that gradually metamorphosed from water into ice. Bang's large gestures, combined with Hamasyan's percussive piano chords, lending the whole performance a ritual grandeur.
Benedikt Jahnel Trio
Pianist Benedikt Jahnel has played before at Enjoy Jazz Festival, as part of the jazz and Persian lyric band, Cyminology. This time, together with Canadian drummer Owen Howard and Spanish bassist Antonio Miguel, his trio brought a strong performance of fusing energy and impressive stylistic diversity to Mannheim's Klapsmuehle (Loony Bin) club. It was a real revelation; coagulating around rhythmical modules, the melodic units (e)merged into an all-engulfing sonic front that carried with it light and sound, pouring back into a theme with the smoothness of clouds clearing the sky after a summer tempest.
The trio's new album, Equilibrium (ECM 2012), mixes pearly melodic successions with counterpointed cadences, and monochromatic agglutinations with intricate rhythmic structures, all in a frenzy of sound that, in concert, filled the room like a work of musical architecture in which it's appealing to dwell for a long while.
A Winged Victory For the Sullen / Nils Frahm / Ólafur Arnalds with Anne Müller
This performance was part of the five-year anniversary tour of Erased Tapes, a label located in London and Berlin that mainly promotes contemporary classical music-a border gender that aims to maintain an equidistant position to acoustic and electronic (or digital) music, whilst integrating classical music with folk-based themes and improvisation. Together, the three sets combined in a fluid performance that combined classical undertones with a more vivid soundtrack of engulfing intensity.
Beyond guitarist/keyboardist Adam Wiltzie}} and keyboardist/string player Dustin O´Halloran, A Winged Victory For the Sullen's performance featured, at times, the whole ensemble united in intense vibratos, putting haunting tunes in the room and allowing them to linger for a while before returning to silence. Pianist Ólafur Arnalds's solo integrated classical composer Arvo Pärt's tones of subdued suffering with sampled inserts of audience-sampled chorals, mixing gothic cadences with nocturnal meditation in a post-modern version of New Age. Pianist/strings player Nils Frahm featured guest vocalist Anne Müller, starting his set with a percussion attack on piano chords that, amplified by monotone minimalism, grew menacingly until the harmony burst out with the impact of a verdict to further dissolve into pure lyricism. A two-piano number, together with Arnalds, augmented the obsessive beat of keys into acute conjunctions of sound and rhythm, which then diminished in concentric waves dispersing in a continuous flow.
The encore, performed by the whole ensemble, departed in ascending harmonies like a ride to the end of the night.
Mari Kvien Brunvoll