JazzTM, Liberty Square, Timișoara, Romania, Saturday, July 3, 2021
After the first, extremely successful evening of the JazzTM jazz festival at Liberty Square in Timisoara, Romania, the Saturday programme promised world stars, performed by the local Adi Stoenescu Group consisting of Adi Stoenescu – el. piano, Arnau Garrofe – tenor sax, Mikhail Ivanov – bass, Borislav Petrov – drums.
Stylistically and compositionally dynamic, the project took many forms led by electric piano and saxophone. Although the mainstream compositions contained elements of indie, pop and rock, the reference point remained that of improvisation and spontaneous interaction between all members of the quartet.
Michal Kratochvíl: The second day of the festival started more tepidly from my point of view. The local scene was represented by Adi Stoenescu and his band, from whom we got a solid performance, but it was nothing revelatory or surprising. A pleasant fusion that didn’t offend, but didn’t leave a significant experience either.
An estimated 2,000 spectators came to see the main number of Saturday’s concert: Ibrahim Maalouf – Quelques Melodies. The bravura trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, born in Beirut, Lebanon, is one of the most popular instrumentalists on the contemporary French music scene. In November 2020, Ibrahim celebrated his 40th birthday and released a new album, 40 MELODIES. For the first time, he will duet with François Delporte, his guitarist of the last ten years. They enthralled the audience with their “several melodies” and sang together several times.
A very rewarding and even moving performance by a great duo.
Michal Kratochvíl: I have to admit right away that this is not a project of Ibrahim’s that would rank among my favorites. Unfortunately, this was the spirit in which the concert was played, and I remembered in vain his band, with which he conjures up a rock show with some serious balls. While it’s nice that a guitar and trumpet duo can play a lot of music, Ibrahim unfortunately intersperses it all with, for me, somewhat cheesy audience heckling and attempts to engage the audience. Whether by clapping, singing the tunes or even whistling, which somewhat failed. It all seemed a bit unnecessary to me and I would have rather enjoyed more music. However, I was rather an exception, as the response from the audience was warm and enthusiastic and there were quite a few female fans of the fairer sex who reacted to any interaction by screaming. It just didn’t sit well with me and I look forward to another concert, but this time with the whole band.
We had to wait an extra half hour for the first non-European musician, Gonzalo Rubalcaba arrived after a 30-hour journey directly to the lone piano on stage, thanked everyone for their patience and launched into a rousing Spain, divorced from his Cuban rules. His solo piano concerto was a beautiful musical experience in which Gonzalo Rubalcaba was able to combine the diverse elements of the Cuban and American jazz traditions into a fresh, modern whole.
Musically, it was the strongest performance at JazzTM so far.
Michal Kratochvíl: We had to wait a while for this performance because there were some problems with travel. However, Gonzalo arrived and, as he confessed to us, he spent more than 30 hours on the road due to various problems because of covid restrictions and regulations. But finally, he actually stood on stage in Timișoara and gave us a mesmerizing solo performance. The opening variation and certainly the wonderful tribute to Chick Corea in the form of Spain had me enthralled and after that I was lost in the music. Wherever Gonzalo decided to take us, I followed him with gusto and enjoyed his solo recital immensely. In the end, the second day was worth it!