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Jazztopad Festival 2017

Henning Bolte By

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Together with the Melting Pot concerts of the festival program these sessions are a unique feature of the festival. This year's Melting Pot concert was a collaboration between French duo Watchdog of pianist Anne Quillier and clarinetist Pierre Horckmans together with Wroclaw's Sundogs. Only for the Melting Pot concert(s) the line-up is announced. Participants of the sessions were Teodosii Spassov (fl), Tomeka Reid (vcl), Jason Roebke b), Benoit Delbecq (p), Peter Knight (tr), Kris Davis (p), Mary Halvorson (g), Tomas Fujiwara (dr), Harish Raghavan (b), Kuba Kurek (tr), Michal Sember (g), Zbyszek Kozera (b) , Matylda Gerber (sax), Marcin Witkowski (dr), Szymon Wojcinski (p), Samuel Hall (dr), Mateusz Rybicka (cl), Zbigniew Kozera (b) (view the slide show for this).

It is normal for those nightly sessions that the audience's intensity of attention is shifting. Nonetheless the musicians were highly engaged and a lot of hot focal points emerged (re)gaining the audiences' ears and eyes. Often it was playful particles work, exploration of microtonality and spectralism but also groove-oriented and melodic work alternating along coherent transitions. There were travels into sonic wonderlands with beautiful strange and shadowy passages and also horrifying underground corridors. The continued meeting in sessions reinforced bonds, liberated, contrasted, astonished and deepened.

Other events/activities

There was a series of movies of Spike Lee (related to the appearance of Terence Blanchard), pre-concert talks, activities for children with live music to animated films and two expositions, an exposition with portrait photography of NFM-photographer Lukasz Rajchert and the exposition entitled Amplified Drawings at Gallery Macondo.

Lukasz Rajchert's portraits are strongly arranged in terms of posture and viewpoint and still more in terms of light, space, color and texture. They inevitably attract the eye of the beholder. His portraits are not quickly decodable but invite to repeated viewing, a closer look. The clarity and presence of the portraits is accompanied by mysteriousness: another example of the high standard and creativity of and care for music-related photography you often come across in Eastern European countries.

The exposition at associated gallery Macondo focused—as one of the first of its kind -on visual/graphical expression of the personal reception of live music through simultaneous live drawing—accounts beyond words and writing, visual/graphical echoes. Initiated by visual artist Lena Czerniawska and the author the exposition also comprised examples of drawings by/of musicians and drawings as input/instruction for making music. As the curator of the exhibition, visual artist Lena Czerniawska, puts it in the announcement: "Among audiences and the creators of experimental and improvised music I observed the phenomenon of responding by drawing to the sounds. Surprised and intrigued I decided to speak out loud about it in the form of an exhibition inviting amazing artists from all around the world. If you notice that you have the same symptoms don't worry—it is a very nice disorder!" Contributors to the exhibition were the musicians Eve Risser (France), Mazen Kerbaj (Lebanon) and Sebastiano Tramontana (Italy) and drawing/visual artists Olaf Brzeski (Poland), Sofia Palma (Portugal), Henning Bolte (Netherlands), Lena Czerniawska (Poland) and Georgina Rodriguez 'Geroco' (Mexico) (view the slide show for the event).

For her live drawing performances curator Lena Czerniawska collaborates with musicians of the Wroclaw and Berlin scene. She has been invited for residencies by the Jazztopad festival and by the Jazzfestival Ljubljana (Slovenia) (see report at All About Jazz).

Conclusion

Jazztopad has a well-considered construction of interlocking components that are well maintained and continuously in development. The same applies to the programming, the balance of presenting Polish musicians/groups, exchanging music and musicians from different countries and inviting great stimulating musicians from outside/abroad. As a whole, its structure and strategy are quite unique especially in its coherent application. Music and musicians are taken in and framed by it in a strong way such that it can leave a clear(er) and firm(er) memory mark.

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