13th Enter Enea Festival, Nad Jeziorem Strzeszyńskim, Poznań, Monday, June 5, 2023
On the second night of the festival, the elegant Agata Kołacz introduced the Tunisian composer, singer and one of the best oud players Dhafer Youssef and his latest project Street of Minarets. The theme of the album is travel, as the composer himself states, „After traveling the four continents of the world in search of new sounds, here I sing differently and use the vocal effects I grew up with. I am thinking in particular of the sound effect of megaphones when calling to prayer“ – hence the title of the album Street of Minarets.
His four, completely unknown to us, bandmates Mario Rom – trumpet, Daniel Garcia – piano, keyboards, Swaeli Mbappé – bass guitar and Shayan Fathi – drums accompanied him above average. Dhafer alternated his distinctive singing to wailing with dynamic rhythmic tempo to dancing, during which his bandmates supported him very well, especially Austrian trumpeter Mario Rom. Overall interesting, but not the expected blockbuster.
Michal Kratochvíl: The concert I was most looking forward to at the festival came right away and, to be honest, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The smiling Dhafer Youssef and his band played great, but my heart didn’t skip a beat during the live performance of songs from the new album Street of Minarets. Maybe I had too high expectations, because I loved the record, but live this performance didn’t completely pull me in. Dhafer took advantage of the slow opening of the concert and sang beautifully. While introducing the band, a car with very loud techno music drove by, which amused Dhafer and he glossed over the situation with funny grimaces. The whole performance was quite meditative, flowing with its own rhythm, Dhafer occasionally singing, conducting the musicians, interacting with them, encouraging and hectoring them, as is his habit. He also appreciatively enjoyed their speech. Occasionally, they increased the tempo a little, turned up the volume and dynamically built up a section or a song. A fine concert, but it seemed to lack that extra something that, for example, the young Andrés had just the day before.
Dhafer Youssef, Enter Enea Festival Poznan, 5.6.20230605
The Polish septet Jazz Forum Machine, consisting of Kasia Pietrzko – piano, Kacper Smoliński – accordion, Tomasz Chyła – violin, Maciej Kądziela – alto saxophone, Jakub Mizeracki – guitar, Roman Chraniuk – bass guitar and Adam Zagórski – drums, was somewhat unconvincing, probably due to the lack of interesting repertoire. Kasia Pietrzsko tried very hard, but she didn’t push her other bandmates to an above average concert.
Michal Kratochvíl: Jazz Forum Machine should be a band of acclaimed musicians who have won many awards and are renowned performers in their own bands. However, the whole project or band gives me the impression of an all-star team, full of great individuals, but not always working as a unit. At first I was lured in by the rather tasteful jazz rock, but as time went on I found more and more that it just didn’t work somehow, until a feeling of boredom began to set in. The musicians were shredding complicated compositions but somehow failed to transfer any energy to the audience, or at least not to me.
Jazz Forum Machine, Enter Enea Festival Poznan, 5.6.2023
However, Leszek Możdżer with the MACV Orkiestra Instrumentów Dawnych Warszawskiej Opery Kameralnej orchestra conducted by Maestro Marcin Sompoliński and supported by Patrycja Betley on percussion instruments were very nice to listen to. The Orchestra of Early Instruments of the Warsaw Chamber Opera performed Leszek’s new composition Composites, The album Composites contains six pieces, four of which (entitled Composites I, II, III, IV) are not compositions but pieces that are a masterful blend of composition and improvisation. The piano parts were improvised by Leszek Możdżer and the author wrote the orchestral score for these improvisations. The remaining two pieces, Ballad For Lars, dedicated to Swedish double bassist Lars Danielsson, and the lyrical Natalladia, were composed by Możdżer in a classical manner. Leszek excelled in his improvisations, a real highlight of the evening.
Moreover, the encore Don’t Give Up by Peter Gabriel was played very movingly as a nice lullaby.
Michal Kratochvíl: One of the highlights of this year’s Enter Enea Festival should certainly have been the premiere of a new album by Leszek Możdżer and the Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense Orchestra of the Warsaw Chamber Opera (MACV) called Composites. The whole performance was beautifully charming and must have delighted every lover of beautiful music. It caressed the soul and warmed the heart. The closing Don’t Give Up by Peter Gabriel was a proper icing on the cake.
Leszek Mozdzer + MACV Orchestra, Enter Enea Festival Poznan, 5.6.2023