German jazz critic Christoph Giese looks at 12 Points 2012 for Jazzthetik magazine
An edited English version of his review;
The Eurovision Song Contest as a role model? Based in Dublin Festival "12 Points" has illuminated much more the idea of uniting Europe and bring people together musically. Twelve young bands play from twelve countries on four days each over an hour on the same stage. Three concerts each evening, then, a non-demanding program in which you can then give the young artists all the attention. When the festival started in 2007, the first three editions ever held in Dublin, going on the road for the first time in 2010 - to Stavanger Norway. That will now happen every two years and it was now once again an away game the day - in the glorious early summer warmth of Porto. The musical architectural jewel of the city, the "Casa da Música," turned out to be a wonderful venue.
The well-presented festival filled every evening the second largest room in the monolithic, polygonal building. And the audience got a wide selection of things to see and hear what's going on in contemporary jazz so in Europe. Sun-drenched trio "De Beren Gieren" of Ghent is the only piano trio of the festival with a keen sense of romance, but also groove, with a completely effortless music, which fluctuated between classical and jazz and beautiful melodies and improvisation pleasure. Beautiful melodies with small, beautiful pitfalls in between were also "Big Blue" in the program, with the Finnish quartet trumpeter Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori.
Double-bassist Hugo Carvalhais album "Nebulosa" has Tim Berne on saxophone For his appearance at the "12 Points" festival, the native of Porto had for the first time Liudas Mockūnas bassist in his band. And the Lithuanians, a stormy man pressing on the saxophone, fits perfectly to the music of Portugal - a music that is open and offers freedoms but also lyrically and firmly outlined. The Maciej Obara Quartet album "Equilibrium"- the album title reflecting the balance of the four musical poles as you can guess. And yes, the compositions of saxophonist Maciej Obara are finely polished, but in a positive way. The music is flowing, shimmering grooves, seductive dark increases in energy levels and can then fall back again. The high school and a wonderful festival entry.
Not everything shone so brightly in Porto. The four Frenchmen of "Actuum" had somehow sacrificed their ferocity, with as crooked meters and nervous dialogue between trumpet and saxophone to inspire. As much attitude stuck in there and, unfortunately, too little very exciting music. There was pleasure in the soothing sounds of Marte Eberson and Mary Skranes alias "Machine Birds" from Norway with their digitally revamped pop ballads. Really nice contrast. Then an ink spot in the festival was the "Divanhana" from Sarajevo, with the 18-year-old singer Leila Catic dished melancholy and joyous Balkan folklore.
Schneeweiss und Rosenrot represented the German colors in Porto. And the Berlin quartet showed once again that it can play wonderfully between jazz and pop with sounds and words. With "Girls in Airports" festival director Gerry Godley, chose the correct band to close the festival. The five guys from Copenhagen, with sometimes African vibes, powerful rhythms and the same double sax bursts of old-style midnight, can really swing into the stall.
12 Points - twelve points not only for but for the whole super-friendly festival, where the musicians had not only their hour upon the stage, but a whole learning experience and many enjoyable activities .
Photos: João Messiah & Marek Dusza
This article also appears in the Jazzthetik 05/06/2012