4 days, 12 young cutting-edge acts from 12 different European countries with widely diverse sounds; rebelling and reinterpreting any fixed notions of ‘jazz’. This April sees the 9th edition of exuberant European jazz festival 12 Points, back home in Dublin after a 2014 edition in Sweden.
12 Points 2015 opens with Strasbourg’s Auditive Connection; a band which excels in the deft interplay between vocalist, drummer and, intriguingly, cellist Anil Eraslan, who wields this traditionally classical instrument with an true improvisers bow. The Norwegian jazz scene is always on the cutting edge, and fearless piano trio Moskus are keeping up, moving into the same orbit as other experimental piano trios like The Bad Plus, The Necks and E.S.T. Closing on Wednesday is Brussels groove-based band Stuff, who have a playful, loose style, crammed full of references to contemporary electronic dance music, 70′s soul, 90′ hip-hop, and past, present & future beat.
On Thursday, the free jazz scene in Hungary is teeming with talent at the moment, and A.M.P. trio are an invigorating example of the energy and appetite for improv amongst Magyar jazz musicians. Berlin based pianist Elias Stemeseder has an impressive stint already under his belt as sideman, but is now coming into his own, with an uninhibited approach and expressive lyricism reflecting a confidence which looks set to bloom. Finnish trio Virta create a big expansive sound, delicately melding inventive electronic effects and atmospheric vocals into an elegant melange with an occasional nod to fellow Scandinavian sonic experimenters Nils Petter Molvaer & Jaga Jazzist.
Friday night opens with the standout trumpeter Laura Jurd Quartet - think electric-Miles with a folkloric twist as Laura's unique compositional style brings her influences together in a distinctive world of groove and improvisation. Copenhagen’s SVIN create a sometimes dark, drone of heavy riffs and detuned instruments, but can then break gasping, into a fragile chamber melody. Sassy, sexy super jazz from Amsterdam by BRUUT! will be a perfect Friday night closer, making brutal jazz out of juicy boogaloo and fat rhythm & blues.
On Saturday Sweden’s Black Dough mix Peter Brötzman-like skronk jazz with a punk-rock aesthetic, creating a sound that is immersive and open. From Dublin quintet Umbra have mature, cohesive writing from guitarist Chris Guilfoyle combining the rich harmonic world of contemporary jazz like John Hollenbeck and the cyclical grooves of Aphex Twin. Closing the festival is Swiss über-jazz group Hildegard Lernt Fliegen, led by vocalist Andreas Schaerer, a vaudevillian frontman who beguils his audience with beat-boxing and incredible instrument mimicry.
More than just a festival, 12 Points influence across the wider European jazz community is palpable, with a strong contingent of European music media and jazz festival bookers making up the delegate programme to check out the expertly select programme of young jazz talent.
12 Points is programmed via an open call to the European jazz community, and with almost 500 applicants for this year’s festival, 12 outstanding acts have now been selected, representing what is hot in Europe for 2015.