Inntöne Festival 2022 (Austria) – London Jazz News

Inntone Festival 2022

(Diersbach, Austria, July 30-August 1, 2022. Festival reporting by Oliver Weindling)

Tuba Skinny at Inntöne. Photo credit: Dieter Wagenbichler

The Inntöne Festival has changed and adapted in the wake of the pandemic, and in remarkable ways. Having left the Pfingsten/Pentecost weekend in 2020, it has now really cemented that date change and become a mainstay on the late July European festival circuit. He moved from the barn to an outdoor site behind the Zauner family farm. It’s transformed our viewing and listening experience: there’s more space to sit and concentrate (and less scrapping on who has pocketed seats). And while in previous years we suffered from the rain, this year we had to deal with the lack of shade and a scorching sun. It was also very visible this year that American musicians and bands are back.

On the first day, just limited to three groups, we had Lean Snorkel, spotlighting the new generation of Dixieland/jug bands around. Playing with great energy and panache, they then rehearsed their performances inside the barn over the following days. A perfect place for a hoedown! For these concerts, they alternated with young local musicians, none more than 10 years old, playing exemplary versions of the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and more. Breathtaking keyboard and vocal solo.

Samara Joy. Photo credit: Norbert Klinge

Discovering singers has always been one of Paul Zauner’s strengths, since he was the first to bring Gregory Porter to Europe more than a decade ago. This year, we were entitled to Samara Joy, winner of the Ella Fitzgerald Award. She showed awareness and musical lines almost as if doing instrumental solos from bebop and beyond. And technical sealing. We must also mention his guitarist, Pasquale Grasso, whose interaction with the singer and his own game and solo was exemplary and dynamic. Similarly, in the exposed situation of simply playing with the bass of Ari Rolandremembering the recent concert I went to of Sheila Jordan and Cameron Brown.

Dana Masters and Cian Boylan. Photo credit: Norbert Klinge

Cutting from a different fabric is Dana Masters. Originally from South Carolina but now residing in Belfast, there is something about her that reminds me of Chanda Rule. Both singers have a strong awareness of their gospel tradition but now reside in cities in Europe where one would not expect such a powerful singer – Vienna in Chanda’s case. Dana was also schooled being a singer for the past six years for Van Morrison, one that must have been eye-opening in many ways. But she has an unparalleled stage presence. And great performances of standards such as ‘Nature Boy’ and ‘Autumn in New York’. She also brought her family’s involvement in human rights across the Atlantic with her, and that was one part of her performance. Strongly accompanied by a group led by its musical director from Dublin Cian Boylan.

Hermeto Pascoal. Photo by Dieter Wagenbichler

As the sun went down each evening, we were treated to a choice of headliners. The first day was the only big Hermeto Paschal. Now 86, he spent the first hour getting his band playing in true Hermeto tradition – tight, energetic, unexpected rhythmic twists and leaps – with just a few solos himself. Reminding us that a true bandleader doesn’t need to be center stage, though they frequently wave their arms like an orchestra conductor. But for the last half hour, he himself exploded. To the melodica, to the keyboard and, finally, to the teapot! Interesting how colorful his music sounds, captured with great precision by Aurélie Freoua who was back as the festival’s resident artist.

The Alfredo Rodriguez Trio with Richard Bona, the group late on Saturday, gave us an energetic and entertaining show. Rodriguez comes from the Cuban school of music where the fantastic technique matches the dynamism of the music. Drummer Michael Olivier is a multi-threat: he sounds like he’s playing different instruments with his hands and feet. Meanwhile Richard Bona showed us first-rate versatility and virtuosity.

Gerald Clayton and Joe Sanders. Photo credit: Josef Leitner

And on the last night we had the Gerald Clayton Trio. Clayton is propelled by the dynamism of his rhythm section of Gregory Hutchinson on the battery and Joe Sander on bass. Already a star in the making, Clayton has an ease and ability to communicate thanks to his excellent play, never overpowering and giving way to the rest of the group.

As with the contrast of singers, so is the contrast of pianists. Monty Alexander is someone where every note seems to reflect the history of music, not just standards such as “Summertime” but also reggae (No Woman, No Cry). Always full of energy and vigor.

Nicole Glover. Photo credit: Dieter Wagenbichler

To be classified as a “rising star” – certainly for us in Europe – is Nicole Glover. New York saxophone playing at the highest level. Too little heard in Europe (and especially in the UK) so far, although more recently as part of the Artemis group. She showed the vitality and focus on long lines that a pianoless saxophone trio can bring.

But no Inntöne festival is complete without its complement of the best Austrians and special selections where jazz and world music collide. Aguamadera continued Zauner’s love of South American music. A duo of singers/guitarists (Marco Grantelli and Maria Cabral) who took us on tour in South America, starting with their home country, Argentina. Colorful and adept.

With musical ties looking to the East, the duo of Markus Stockhausen, very concentrated with trumpet and flugelhorn often muted, and Alireza Mortazavi, originally from Iran, on different types of santur, a kind of zither. The modal sound, the swirl of the santur and the intensity created a spirituality that floated across the fields and into the woods beyond.

Christophe Pepe Auer. Photo credit: Josef Leitner

From Austria, we were treated to a quartet of Christophe Pepe Auer. Much more lyrical than one might have expected from White Noise; but unsurprisingly given that he focused on clarinets (and a bit of saxophone) going all the way to contrabass clarinet and some of the sound came from having a cello, in this case Clement Sainitzer. And Mario Rom’s Interzone have become tighter and even more focused since we saw them in London in 2018. Mario Rom only speaks through his trumpet, with announcements being made by Lukas Kranzelbindera dynamo on bass whose spirit and creativity seem to constantly race with energy and innovation (as seen with his band Shake Stew in Cheltenham this year).

More than ever, we experienced in Inntöne good music, atmosphere, food and drink for three days. Next year, a new Steinway C is coming – and how many farms own such an instrument? Let’s see what this adds to an already special mix.

Night falls on Inntöne. Photo credit: Norbert Klinge

RADIO SHOWS: There will be retransmissions of certain concerts on the Austrian radio (oe1.at), which will then be listenable via their audiothek. Already confirmed are

* Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo Ö1 / On stage, 05.09.2022, 7:30 p.m. CET
* Nicole Glover Trio Ö1-Jazznacht, 29./30.10.2022, 23.00 CET
* Richard Bona & Alfredo Rodriguez Trio Ö1 / On stage, 17.10.2022, 7:30 p.m. CET
* Monty Alexander Trio Ö1 / On stage, 22.08.2022, 7:30 p.m. CET

CONNECTIONS: The complete cache of official photos of the Inntöne Festival 2022 is HERE

Festival website

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