Greit. For noen år siden skrev jeg en kort liste over konserter det kunne være greit å få med seg på det aktuelle årets Moldejazz. Egentlig begynte det vel med muntlige tips til Tor rett før festivaluka, men uansett ... i år har jeg somlet mye, og er strengt tatt lovlig seint ut med anbefalingene. Det er på tide å gyve løs. Ja, og det glemte jeg, på engelsk skal det visst være i år. Jeg vil på forhånd beklage mitt elendige ordforråd og alle ortografiske og grammatisk feil. Da tror jeg vi setter i gang.
«Science teachers and the mentally ill, that's all jazz is for.» Vince Noir
I'm no science teacher, but I do like jazz. Maybe that's the main reason Tor every now and then ask me for concert recommendations for Molde jazz festival. For the past 50 years, in the small speck of norwegian civilization that is Molde city, there have been held a week-long jazz festival in mid-July, every year. Allthough the jazz has become less of a selling factor, and in spite of the fact that a greater portion of the visitors and local inhabitants just come out for a bit of intimacy, a lot of liquoring up and the odd sword fight, it's still a jazz festival. The easiest way to remain sane, is to stay away from Storgata, at all times, at all costs. Here I could paraphrase Thomas Pynchon and note that if Molde was a person, and it decided to sit down ... but I won't.
Today, around noon I guess, it all kicked off with some festive parading in the aforementioned street, with a bloke in a suit and a geezer from New Orleans making out the avant garde. Not quite as lively as down in the Treme, but surely one of the few times during the festival when it's worth the risk venturing down to Storgata. As far as I'm concerned, after that, you would do best to just wait for the hours to whitle away untill it's suddenly 20:30, when you should make sure you're inside Kulturhuset, waiting for Stian Westerhus and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra to start playing. With people like Maja Ratkje, Kjetil Møster, Ola Kvernberg, Michael Duch, Kenneth Kappstad, Hilde Sofie Tafjord and on and on the list goes, it's hard to imagine that this will be anything but smashing. It will set you back some small fortune though, or a pittance if you're norwegian, as tickets for the concert cost 230 kroner. But to be fair, it's a lot of music for the money (a good thing if you're from Sunnmøre or Scotland, I'd imagine), and it looks to be one of the more interesting concerts for days. At least in my opinion. A more easily digestible choice for the evening would be Bobo Stenson trio at Forum, 23:00. Definitely a concert to catch, as it promises improv as well as accessibility for those not too familiar with the art form known as jazz.
So, then we have Tuesday. It looks as if this day promises a couple of interesting performances, at least if you read what the festival management writes in their brochures, but I don't go by what they say. The only really interesting one takes place at Reknes, 14:00. The duo is made up by Kjetil Møster on sax, and Michael Duch playing the double bass. Duch has a doctorate from NTNU, where he did research on Free Improvisation and the use of Improvisation in Experimental Music. I believe this can be quite an interesting listen, and it isn't that pricey at 150 kroner. Just what you'd expect to pay for a hearty lunch here in Norway. I've heard these guys play a ton of times earlier, and it has always been a great experience. After this sonic picnic at Reknes, feel free to enjoy the rain (most likely, anyway), see some sights, or just muck about for the rest of the day. Anyway, that is what I'd do as I think most of the other concerts probably will be a bit too easy listening and you'll probably have heard it before. Also I'm not sold on the idea to flesh out 250 kroner so I can listen to 'hip' New York jazz played by old men who believe they are John Coltrane.
With the arrival of Wednesday comes a vast array of concerts to choose from. I could easily see myself trying to catch as many as possible this day, but being asked to shell out 850 kroner for a day pass just seems like a blatant robbery. The two o'clock concert with Cortex at Reknes seems promising, as it features a bouquet garni of young, norwegian jazz musicians. I'd expect to hear groovy, fluid and humorous jazz pumping out of the instruments of all four musicians. Drum, trumpet, double bass and saxophone. And quite reasonably priced, at 150 kroner. After lunch, it's time for the main course, and the choice, from my point of view, is either the female ensemble named SPUNK accompanied by the super cool frenchwoman Joëlle Léandre on double bass, or the american pie aptly named Mostly Other People Do The Killing. Both concerts are fated to do great things to your ears, but if I had to choose (and I do, since SPUNK plays at Kulturhuset 20:30, and MOPDTK plays at Alexandrakjelleren 20:00) it would have to be those fantastically musical women. And at 200 kroner for a ticket, both concerts should be one to attend. Either way, going to a concert on Wednesday at about eight o'clock seems like the right thing to do. If you can afford a nightcap at 180 kroner, I would recommend walking down to the seaside and to Forum, to catch Kuára playing at 23:00. Afterwards, enjoy the walk home and get some well earned rest.
Thursday just seems like one of those days where the program hasn't got anything to offer. That's just rubbish, of course, but I would save on spendings this day, as the only concert that really appeals to me is the concert featuring one trumpet and two drums. Tyshawn Sorey, Paal-Nilssen Love and Magnus Broo will probably do some magic with their instruments this evening.
After the dry spell that was Thursday, comes the bountiful Friday, with it's concerts galore. Eldbjørg Raknes, John Escreet trio, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra with Dave Holland, Jarle Bernhoft and Röyksopp are all possible choices for a fun day out, and all possibly painful for your bank account. So, those aside, let's instead have a look at some of the interesting, less expensive concerts this evening – Dans Les Arbres and Montée. Here I'll allow myself to use the words of WIRE journalist Andy Hamilton, and do a shameless cut-and-paste: «There’s no end to the delights of this quite magical disc. The finest composition, like improvisation, ultimately relies on intuition, and these players seem to have an innate grasp of the right combination of sounds and textures. Dans les arbres must be one of the finest ECM Improv releases – indeed, releases from any label – in recent years». Indeed. As for Montée, they will serve as a welcome break from all that jazz. To put it to you bluntly, they play true pop-music and it really makes you want to boogie down. It also helps with reconstituting your jazz stamina for the festival's last day. Although I would treat this as a nice finale to the festival and just relax on Saturday.
All good things must come to an end, and the end is important in all things. Sadly, I've always felt that the festival goes out with a whimper, and the Saturday this year is no exception. That's not to say there aren't any good experiences to be had this day. One possibility is to walk directly from the after party/nachspiel from the night before to the «Break of day in Molde» concert in Reknesparken at 07:00 with Phaedra and Ingrid Fiksdal. Then get breakfast and do some power napping untill 18:00, when The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra plays with Arild Andersen. Or you could just enjoy the amazing rain and a cold beer or two, whilst waiting for klezmer jazz band Hazmat Modine to come play in Alexandraparken near midnight. Most likely I would probably skip all that, and rather watch only one concert this day – Dag Erik Knedal Andersens gig at Forum nine o'clock.