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Innovating and experimental

MOERS FESTIVAL, GERMANY, 22.-25.05.2015: It’s the second year at the new location Festivalhalle Moers which was original an old indoor tennis centre. But People are still complaining about the location and the tone of it. It is so different to the big tent. Now it is a normal event hall. But even if the character of the location has changed the program has retrain its charm.

The Moers festival is well known for its innovating and experimental jazz. The program maker, Reiner Mischalke, looks always for new things, new projects and new upcoming musicians. They cross borders since 44 years. No wonder that this year they were given the EJN Award 2015, which was awarded from the Europe Jazz Network for the programmatic intentions and the devote experiments in the program of the festival. During the festival the artistic Director Reiner Mischalke received the award from Ros Rigby the President of EJN. The ceremony was attended by Culture Minister Monika Grütters as well as members of the federal and state parliament, the mayor of Moers and many colleges from EJN and international guests.

In the centre of the festival program this year was the Artist in Residence, the US American saxophone player Colin Stetson. His special feature is to extend saxophone techniques through circular breathing, multiphonics, altissimo and various others so as if he is creating an endless sound. With four different projects he was represented at the festival. On Friday in a Duo with Sarah Neufeld. Saturday a trio performance with Tevor Dunn and Greg Fox. On Sunday as well as the European premiere of Stetson’s arrangement of Górecki’s Third Symphony, entitled «Sorrow, a reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony» and on Monday afternoon with a solo performance. Due to their monumentality large parts of the audience were most impressed of the Stetson´s arrangement of Górecki’s Third Symphony.

Main parts of the festival were characterized by electronic improvised music. On Friday with Hayden Chisholm and the Lucerne Jazz Orchester, The Nest and Collin Stetson with Sarah Neufeld. On Saturday Eve Risser and the “White Dessert Orhestra”, Eve Risser’s Orchestra with Eivind Lønning ao and 80 singers,  the Norwegians in sPacemoNkey (Morten Qvenild and Gard Nilssen), “Pulverise the Sound”, Stetson, Dunn, Fox as well as the night program on Sunday with RocketNumberNine, Born In Flamez and Dean Blunt. But there were also surprisingly different. Like the gospel group on Friday night.  After the chairs had been removed, the festival started to dance. Or on Sunday in connection to the award ceremony owed to the prominent politicians with Sarah McDonald or Ziad Rajab Trio more melodic, more agreeable music.

But even I, as someone who is not so much fond of the electronic music, came at my expense. Mikko Innanen 10+, a Group with 12 Finnish musicians I got in my heart. In a mixture from Chamber Orchestra through out to free jazz everything was found in a piece. It was so unusual with a number of turns that this have fascinated me. As well as Eivind Opsvik Overseas. Rarely before I have heard so tasty safe exploration of space. Each piece has a different character, speaks a different language and breathes a different speed. Sofie Jernberg with Olav Mjelva and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. impress me. Here folk music, new music, jazz and improvisation combines to create a new sound. With her special voice Sofie Jernberg gives the music her touch. And last but not least Michael Mantler The Jazz Composers Orchestra Update feat. Nouvelle Cuisine Big Band conducted by Christoph Cech. Mantler looks back on a long career as a composer. He loves to balance between structures and improvisation and he is not fan of the excesses of free playing. In his composing he prefer to limit the solos while he is carefully avoiding constraining the flow of creative juices. In the last years he has updates his old compositions. Outcome is a surprising piece of young and powerful music.

Morning sessions: during the festival the musicians who do not have to leave or still have some time before their sound check meet traditionally to sessions. The sessions are Institution and appreciated by the audience and the musicians alike.

I have enjoyed the days in Moers very much. The Sun was shining – except on Monday – it wasn´t too warm and only a shower of rain on Monday morning has complicated the dismantling of the tents at the campsite a little. It was wonderful to see the great fan base of improvise and experimental jazz, so that the 1.200 seats in the hall were filled on every day during the festival. So, we will meet again in 2016: 13th to 16th May in Moers.

Text: Kerstin Siemonsen
Photo: Henning Bolte

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