Friday, July 22, 2005

"Jazz" in Molde, 2005

Reporting from the back of a boat at the harbor of Molde, a city which its inhabitants a more proud of than they have any reason to be.

I came down to see Anthony Braxton, one of few truly interesting jazz names in this years program. Braxton played on the 20th of July. He fronted a sextet I daresay comprised of his students, they were at least 20-30 years his juniors. Braxton on saxes: piccolo, soprano and alto. Bass, violin, percussion, trumpet and tube completes the sextet. They played one piece on the night, entirely composed, but they seemed to play around with the sections as though the piece had not been composed from A to Z. I found it very engaging and was particularly impressed with the bass player as well as Braxton himself. Many of the audience didn't know what they had gotten into, one heckler declaring "FUCK YOU" as he stumbled out. Braxton seemed unfazed.

Thursday and the main attraction of this "jazz" festival, Lauryn Hill, enters the stage. I had initially decided not to go, but persuaded myself that it was in my general interest to do so. Her band was actually surprisingly funky, and Ms. Hill herself was not as introvert as papers in Sweden had told me she would be. But she does not boast a body of song intriguing enough to sustain my interest for an hour and a half, which also confirms my belief that her Miseducation album sounds more like a classic than it actually IS, because the songs are simply not strong enough.

I have a bone to pick. The festival in Molde depends too much on non-jazz artist, mostly blues and related, to complete their program. No harm in that, but Kongsberg continues to break old and new ground with an almost entirely jazz profile, confirming my belief that Kongsberg has surpassed Molde as Norway's premier jazz festival.

Pondering whether to see Jamie Lidell tonight. Later

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