Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vancouver International Jazz Festival: Jun 20 - Jul 1 | Susanna and Hedvig Mollestad Trio North American Tours: Jun 19 - 30 | Earshot Jazz presents Bushman's Revenge at The Royal Room: Jun 23

Up north the Vancouver International Jazz Festival plays host to a set of Scandinavian artists on the always qualitative Rune Grammofon label, as the convergence point in their tours across the US and Canada. With a date at Seattle's The Royal Room on June 23! Over the course of the Vancouver festival's ten days, the expansive spectrum of all things that could be Jazz are represented, including three artists from the more adventurous Scandinavian fringe. Atmospheric Jazz-pop chanteuse Susanna will be performing outside the context of her usual 'Magic Orchestra', her recent solo work garnering high praise from The Guardian. The heavy electric jazz power-Improv trio, Bushman's Revenge who occupy a space between the rhythm section of post-BeBop and guitar riffs of Psych and Metal, a sound Jazzwise called rousing and portentous and The Quietus lauded as a significant development within the context of the larger Norwegian Jazz and Rune Grammofon chronology. Lastly, another trio of hard rockers who made Jazz Times' Top 50 Albums of 2013 list with their fusion of guitar with a progressive and lyrical modern jazz, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio. It's been a good while since this particular brand of Jazz from the Northern regions of Europe graced Seattle, in fact, almost two years to the day when In The Country delivered a expressive set beyond the standard of what one expects of a piano-led Jazz Trio. Their show at Tula's was a confluence of post-Rock rhythm dynamics, upright bass and minimal Electronic punctuation, juxtaposed against some of the finest free-form piano playing I've seen live.

We've not been witness to anything of it's kind since, but a brief glimpse of the true greatness of this scene was had when in 2004 when The Northwest Passage touring cultural exchange presented by the San Francisco Jazz Festival in collaboration with the world renowned Krongsberg Jazz Festival swung through the west coast. This burgeoning Scandinavian scene covered at the time in the Jazz Times, "The Sound of Young Norway" it's cultural locus then largely centered around the curatorial and aesthetic bedrock that is the Scandinavian classical, jazz and improv label, ECM. Now four decades in the running, Dan Jennings posits in the New York Times that this may be the label's greatest decade yet, "ECM: CDs Know That Ears Have Eyes". This also being the year their sister label celebrated it's 150th release hailed in the pages of The Quietus, this collection represents yet another farseeing and visionary benchmark of graphic and sonic synergia, "Rune Grammofon: Sailing To Byzantium". From The Quietus: "Sailing to Byzantium is Rune Grammofon gunning for immortality. Everything from the time capsule of a package, to Henriksen's climactic loving contribution yearns to let the future know that these guys were here, that they were creating something; that they left the world a better place than they found it. It's barely possible to recommend it high enough, but every facet of Sailing to Byzantium and all of Rune Grammofon deserves to be heard, nay experienced in all of their explosive original glory." Photo credit: Andreas Ulvo