It was impossible to hear all of the music at the Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival. I came as close as allowed by festival scheduling and the need for a minimal amount of sleep. Here are brief notes wrapping up this series of Rifftides reports on Ystad 2016.
Swiss harmonica player Grégoire Maret reached peaks of excitement when he
and drummer John Davis faced off in rhythmic flurries that amounted to mutual solos. They were particularly gripping in Maret’s “The Angel Gabriel.” The British singer Zara McFarlane vocalized a clever unison line with Maret in one piece, but in another the banal lyric of a song called “Diary of a Fool” took the edge off her effectiveness.
The courtyard of the Hos Morten Café was crowded for The Other Woman, a new group headed by Swedish pianist Mathias Landaeus. Landaeus’s solos streamed along highly personal harmonic lines. He is a pianist to take note of. Landaeus had solid rapport with bassist Johnny Åman and the impressive young drummer Cornelia Nilsson. In “I’ll Be Around,” the idiosyncratic vocalist Ellekari Sander interpreted the song with fragility that suited it.
In the Ystad Theatre, Avishai Cohen unleashed his bass, his trio and his athleticism. His concert was an experience in unremitting energy. Nearly everything Cohen, pianist Omri Mor and drummer Daniel Dor played either directly reflected their Israeli heritage or had a broad Middle Eastern inclination. An exception was Thad Jones’s blues ballad “A Child Is Born.” In it, Cohen explored and expanded the harmonies to create a moving statement.
A concert by vocalist, composer and arranger Iris Bergcrantz drew on her recent album. As in the recording, her band included her trumpeter father, Anders Bergkrantz; her mother, pianist Anna Lena Laurin; and her sister Rebecca singing backup vocals. The music was experimental, imaginative and successful. A haunting approach to “Eleanor Rigby” found levels of meaning beyond The Beatles. Anders Bergcrantz’s trumpet solos matched the audacity of his daughter’s concept.
A young Dane, Kathrine Windfeld, has assembled a big band for which she writes and arranges with brilliance, humor and originality. In her piece called “Aircraft,” repetition of a six-note figure helped establish a Scandinavian ambience that was apparent throughout the band’s set. Her arrangement set up trombonist Göran Abelli for a riotous solo that brought him huge applause. Ms. Windfeld is bound to have an important future.
(Thanks to Markus Fägersten and his superb Ystand festival photo staff for supplying pictures.)