“A feat of German engineering genius” Jazzahead goes virtual for the first pan-world digital edition
Why do we love music? This is a question most of us delve into music as fans or professionals rarely asked before the pandemic hits in 2020, but a year later and the most apt answer to this question is: connect with people. Yes, listening to music has provided immense solace in these isolated times, but going to concerts and mingling with other music lovers is undoubtedly one of the joys of hearing music in person. It can also be argued that this is one of the reasons why the Jazzahead the trade fares and exhibitions in Bremen every year in April for the past decade and a half, have been such a hit – where else in the world can so many like-minded jazz professionals meet in one place? And yet, it is a logistical, health and safety nightmare in our time ravaged by Covid. So last year’s conference was canceled outright, but with 12 months of planning the 15th edition turned a crisis into a virtual opportunity as Jazzahead went live via the ingenious Talque smartphone app. , live streams from Facebook and an avalanche of information on the website.
The event has always set the bar high for technical excellence with hundreds of musicians seamlessly swapping venues across multiple stages over the course of its duration – and barring any odd issue – it mostly goes like clockwork. , while being filmed and recorded at an incredibly high standard. So the transition to live-only concerts – with 31 showcase concerts performed, 12 of which broadcast live from the Mass itself in Bremen – went smoothly, with top-notch sound and vision. Thus, from April 29 to May 2, 2021, 902 participants from 50 nations and 90 exhibitors from 41 countries took part in the digital jazz fair.
Early highlights of the performance included the German trumpeter Marcus Stockhausen melancholy and slightly austere ensemble, which resolved into a warm and major cadence towards the end, while the two British artists involved both gave very good accounts of their current projects. Saxophonist Camilla george is a prime example of the burgeoning and massively self-confident young jazz scene in the UK, leading their funkified quintet of keyboardists Sarah tandy, guitarist Shirley Tetteh, bass player Daniel Casimir and drummer Rod youngs through a bubbling and floating ensemble with its sharp alto sax pushing things forward. Tandy and Tetteh also shone with angular solos that eschewed showboating chops in favor of tangy phrases that hit home. Pianist and singer Julia biel brought things back to basics with a beautifully filmed set in Brighton, as her soulful, soulful voice weaved between her sounding meditative chords on songs from her recent solo vocal and piano album Black White. Arguably, with greater international reach via the web, the myriad of global jazz stages were well represented – partner country Canada featured both a much-in-demand left-wing pianist. Kris davis and the politically charged thrashy sound mash-up concocted by YEAR.
It was the quartet Red kite who provided a breath of fresh air, with trumpet Fulvio Sigurtasparkling deeply melodic lines in front of the keyboardist’s simpatico rhythm section Esben Tjalve, bass player Adrian christensen and drummer Frederik Bülow. This set has shown huge promise and they are one to watch when they release their new album later this year. Drummer Sun-Mi Hong showed his panning influences which stretched freer passages of the game into tighter solo sections, with trumpeter Alistair Payne blow up a storm. Yet it was the manic outburst of The real Harry Nulz, with their instrumentation lined with pairs of drummers, clarinettists, bassists and guitarists who both elicited smiles for their chaotic virtuosity and kudos for it gelling and projecting itself through virtual space – certainly a band to capture live when possible.
A feat of German engineering genius, this virtual edition is now firmly established and as many delegates struggle to understand all the music on offer, there are good reasons to add this digital dimension every year – those who do. are registered can view the showcases and continue to network through the app until July! Nothing can beat the thrill of being there in person and making new friendships and connections through a shared passion for this music, but in our new hybrid online-offline world, it was a technical triumph.
Jazzahead 2022 takes place from Thursday April 28 to Sunday May 1 – for more information visit www.jazzahead.de/en/