2012 Tampere Jazz Happening: Tampere, Finland, November 1-4, 2012
The Saturday and Sunday programs began at 2pm each afternoon, representing the weekend's greatest density of sets. Schneeweiss Und Rosenrot opened up with a striking display. This unfamiliar quartet wasn't exactly jazz, but it also wasn't exactly too shackled by any genre. The song forms provided the band's chief thrust, manifested in an experimental kind of French café chanson. It also sounded like they'd been admiring the old records of Soft Machine's Robert Wyattnot in the sound of his voice, but rather in the general feeling. Otherwise, lead vocalist and minimalist keyboarder Lucia Cadotsch possessed a unique charisma, mannered and eccentric, but not irritatingly so, as could be the possible pitfall of such extremity. She was well-balanced by "conventional" pianist Johanna Borchert, setting up an electro-acoustic dialogue, and equally contrasting with their vocal styles. The band is made up with members from Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Sweden. That's a mixture, indeed. The music, too, but it all ultimately sounded controlled and refined in its diversity and style-mulching meltdown.
The afternoon run continued with interesting sets by guitarist Hasse Poulsen's Progressive Patriots (another multinational band, this time combining French and German players, but with drummer Tom Rainey being its most renowned member) and Sha's Feckel (more straightforwardly from Switzerland, their reed playing leader most often heard as a member of pianist Nik Bärtsch's Ronin). In their different ways, both combos were dedicated to intricate jazz-rocky compositions that were accurately delivered with force and finesse.
Percussionist Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures continued the run in the main Old Customs House Hall, entering the evening cluster. This was a larger festival octet incarnation of the long-running band featuring cornetist Graham Haynes, trombonist Joe Bowie and flautist/reed multi-instrumentalist Ralph Jones. All of the horn players augmented their main axes with a selection of tiny blown or percussed instruments. This was attractive at first, but eventually tipped over into being overdone, significantly decreasing the time spent with their primary horns. Thus, the parts of the set with less of a rhythmic thrust tended towards an abstraction that sometimes sounded unfocused. When guitarist Kenny Wessel soloed, it was clear that his statement was powerful, but unfortunately it was sonically submerged in the mix. Rudolph himself led from the congas, conducting, prompting, driving and inspiring.
The Jazz Passengers have been officially reunited, although did the group ever really break asunder? It just seems as though there have been extended hiatus periods. The band has been playing together at New York City''s Jazz Standard club on a fairly regular basis. The combo's leaderssaxophonist Roy Nathanson and trombonist Curtis Fowlkesexuded a relaxed, lived-in rapport, like a pair of rascally uncles who've been sent to disrupt a staid family gathering. Having the luxury to lounge casually across the stage, and ramble eloquently to the audience didn't mean that this was a band without a feel for discipline. It succeeded in making its arrangements sound loose and spontaneous, but the vocal harmonies (from virtually the entire band) were the epitome of conversational good timing. The title cut of Reunited (Justin Time, 2010) was delivered as a marvel of doo wop soul combinations, twinklingly mischievous and slyly ironic.
An attempt to enter the permanently crammed Telakka was, again, frustrating. The Mopo trio was audible, but only stray limbs and head fragments were visible through the massed bottleneck. The trio sounded substantially storming, but it was time to cross the street back to the Customs House. Klubi was blessed with a much more conducive environment for late night unwinding. Next year, the festival organizers should consider moving the local Finnish bands into this more spacious location. Either that, or sell fewer tickets for those gigs.