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The Jazz Olympics

12 Points is the European Jazz Olympics, with the fittest of today's performers displaying their talents. Except that in the Project Arts Centre this week, everyone's a winner - the audience most of all. Mopo We had an almost full venue for the opening event of 12 Points 2013 at the Project Arts Centre with Mopo, a trio from Helsinki with baritone sax player, Linda Fredricksson, bassist Eero Tikkannen, and Eeti Nieminen on drums. There were songs about cats and dogs with instruments that included a squeaky pig - but no horses were involved in the making of this show! The crowd loved the high-octane energy and were entertained when the many tin, wooden and plastic improvised instruments were blown, bashed and squeezed periodically. These zanier moments were interspersed with some serious jazz and a beautiful calm.

Olivia Trummer Trio For the middle band of the night we were treated to traditional jazz music mixed with fresh, innovative twists. You could have heard a pin drop throughout Olivia’s singing and piano playing. The same could be said even during the bass solos by Josh Ginsburg, but especially so for an interesting clapping and percussion duet with Olivia and the drummer, Eric Vaughan’s. The Autumn Song seemed apt on this drizzly evening and the Berlin-based trio made it feel cool to be blue. They closed with Stay Awake - hardly necessary for our opening night's audience, which had by now reached capacity. While Olivia's vocals brought the room to a serene sense of peace I thought what a very romantic Valentine's Day feel there is to the festival!

OZMA from Strasbourg Clearly today's jazz musicians are not content with playing their instruments - they strive to play with them as much as possible. At times I had to look around to see from which instrument they had managed to create a particular unique sound. OZMA bend their instruments to their will as they bend any rules of jazz that might remain and the audience went from toe-tapping to head-banging. This is not jazz-rock - it's rockin' jazz! Though, no matter where these musicians go with their music (and they wander down various routes throughout the sets) they always return to the jazz root. Similar factors between the groups at the 12 Points Festival: A sense of humour, packed houses and quality with a few surprises to reward our committed jazz fans. Our youthful bands give 100%, which is exactly what they get back in return. But the 'No Encores' rule is going to be a tough one to stick to for all concerned over the next 3 nights!

Where is the next generation of Jazzers going to come from? I believe the 12 Points festival can help answer that serious question. And not to forget the late fun that is to be had in the 12 Points Festival Club at Sweeney’s Mongrel on Dame Street. Last night Umbra kicked off the jam sessions. Now, these guys are just too young to be that talented! All photos can be viewed from the attached link

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