Ljubljana Jazz Festival – Thursday 16.6.2022

Ljubljana Jazz Festival – Thursday 16.6.2022

63. Ljubljana Jazz Festival, Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, Thursday, 16.6.2022

On the second night of the festival, we only caught the second performance, where an intimate duo, Slovenian pianist Miha Gantar and Italian singer Marta Arpini, performed on the main stage in the Council of Europe Park. Their music blended tender love songs with chaotic, melancholic melodies and bursts of vivacity and warmth.

Michal Kratochvíl: Miha Gantar and Marta Arpini prepared for us such a pleasantly pleasing performance, which, however, did not captivate us in any way. Unfortunately, sometimes the festival programme overlapped a bit, so we had to move on to the next concert.

The trio Cansu Tanrikulu – vocals; Greg Cohen – double bass; Tobias Delius – saxophone (Turkey, USA, United Kingdom) performed unlimited improvisations in the circular Štih Hall. The trio invented new forms of avant-garde compositions on stage through telepathic communication. An adventurous collection of surreal improvisations by three musicians.

Michal Kratochvíl: Cansu Tanrikulu feat. Greg Cohen and Tobias Delius, it was an experimental improvisation that I can’t say I was too impressed with. The encounter with Cansu two years ago made a much bigger impression on me (see the report from Jazz goes to Town). Cansu had 2 microphones set up, between which she artfully pendulated, one of which was with effects, which she used occasionally. Unfortunately, even with an open mind and no preconceived notions, I didn’t really get what the artists were trying to say with this performance and failed to tune in. They did not evoke any emotion in me, perhaps just indifference, and so I drifted along in my thoughts with the music in the background.

The main star of the second night of the festival and, according to many, the whole festival filled the large Gallus Hall. The quartet Anouar Brahem – oud; Klaus Gesing – bass clarinet, saxophone; Björn Meyer – bass; Khaled Yassine – darbuka, bendir (Tunisia, Germany, Sweden, Lebanon) elevated all the receptive audience to their musical space, in which Anouar Brahem sets the ancient tradition of Arabic music in contrast not only with modern jazz, but also with the refined harmonies of traditional European composition. The Arabic lute in the hands of Anouar Brahem, along with his brilliant bandmates, sounded perfect, almost as it does on the studio CDs. The most artistically successful concert of the festival.

Michal Kratochvíl: The next performance, however, promised a guaranteed tune-up and it was no different. The dreamy introduction and slow unfolding of the intricate composition was the right introduction to this concert. The beautiful sound of Klaus Gesing’s bass clarinet enhanced the meditative atmosphere and in the very next piece he proved that he is also great on soprano saxophone. This piece was more rhythmic and brisker and of course was followed by enthusiastic applause from the audience. It continued with the fragile stuff, when I realized for the first time how crystalline the sound in the hall was and how quiet the concert was. You could have heard a pin drop. The show didn’t falter in any way and continued without any unnecessary speeches with another beautifully meditative song in which the band managed to take us along for the ride. The wonderful percussionist Khalid Yassine graded and uplifted the song, as did the soaring sound of Klaus‘ soprano, which along with Anouar, conjured up some beautiful melodies. Bassist Björn Meyer was also appreciated for his lilting solo. Such wonderful music deserved a standing ovation and, of course, an encore.

Bosnian-born pianist Adis Sirbubalo focused his recital on the legacy of Sevdalinka songs, a traditional genre of folk music combined with elements of jazz and classical music.

Michal Kratochvíl: The Bosnian pianist Adis Sirbubalo already played movingly and emotionally on the outdoor stage, which made him a nice addition to the programme after the previous meditative experience.

Trio Luka Matić – drums; Ian Cleaver – trumpet; Omer Govreen – double bass (Slovenia, Netherlands, Israel) is the first realization of Luka Matić’s artistic vision as a bandleader and composer. The Amsterdam-based band played their own music under the big plane tree, whose sound structure captivated all the listeners in the park.

Michal Kratochvíl: The young Luka Matić trio presented themselves with a predatory expression and it is clear that an interesting jazz subculture is certainly blossoming in Slovenia and young musicians have the potential to develop international collaborations, as we could see several times during the festival.

Kristijan Krajnčan, one of Slovenia’s most original jazz musicians, presented a very original dance and music performance Honey Sparks in the Dark, featuring: Kristijan Krajnčan – compositions, drums, cello, effects; Tomaž Gajšt – trumpet, flugelhorn, synthesizer; Boštjan Simon – tenor & bass saxophones, live electronics; Robert Jukič – double bass; Žigan Krajnčan – choreography, dance; Kristyna Šajtošova, Katja Login, Bor Prokofjev – dance; Borut Bučinel – lighting design. The concept, which he created together with his brother Žigan (choreographer), is based on Slovenian folklore and mythology. The choreography is based on traditional folk dances transformed into a contemporary form. A very nice surprise.

Michal Kratochvíl: But then came one of the unexpected highlights of the festival. Kristijan Krajnčan with his project Honey Sparks in the Dark performed on the main stage. The performance with two male and two female dancers completely mesmerized me and I devoured every note as well as every movement on the stage. An exceptional fusion of modern jazz with modern dance that drew from and referenced folklore. The elaborate choreography was a feast for the eyes and was perfectly matched to the music. I will become very interested in Kristijan after this experience. He not only plays the drums, but also the cello.

The trio Abacaxi consisting of Julien Desprez – guitar; Jean-François Riffaud – bass guitar; Francesco Pastacaldi – drums (France, Italy) made a significant exclamation mark on the second evening of the festival. Elements of abstraction, roaring noise and progressiveness mingled with the guitarist’s gymnastic dance maneuvers on a series of floor pedals.

Michal Kratochvíl: And the whirlwind that came afterwards is perhaps not even worth describing. Abacaxi pumped it into us again and it was worth it. Remind them for example in the report from Jazz goes to Town, where they performed last year. By the way, JGTT is very similar to the festival in Ljubljana in its current concept and dramaturgy.

Reports from other days: