Saalfelden Jazz Festival 2021, Austria – News, reviews, articles and commentary from the London jazz scene and beyond


Art is about what can be done, not just what can be done. The 41st The Saalfelden Jazz Festival, which took place in Austria from August 16 to 22, 2021, relied on the communication of a handful of lead musicians who, in different configurations, experimented with the limits of the genre. Report by Ralf Dombrowski


Christian Reiner. Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski The singer, actor and dadaistChristian reiner , artist in residence at the internationally renowned Saalfelden festival, has been involved in five different projects, ranging from a more textual forest recitation to the very expressive free action quintet, “Five”. During a performance, Reiner intuitively used fragments of words in a 16-meter-long sentence, which were simultaneously printed by bookbinder Fuchs, the owner of the place. Saxophonist Angelika Niescier made an appearance in a sextet reimagining Beethoven, and then performed in dialogue with the pianistAlexander hawkins . Christian Lillinger sometimes drummed with Christophe Dell andJonas Westergaard , sometimes with Craig taborn and Elias Stemeseder Where Kaja draksler andPeter Eldh , as didLukas Konig , who also played with the bassist Shahzad Ismail in Irreversible Entanglements and in trio with the artist of oral creationMoor Mother

Angelika Niescier (as), re: BTVHN. Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Mother Moor, Irreversible entanglements. Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Multiple appearances like this were in part due to the confusing situation the organizers found themselves in – due to rapidly changing public health regulations, they always had to have a Plan B up their sleeve. This year, Mario Steidle, Daniela Neumayer and their team had weeks instead of months to prepare, and still managed to organize 63 concerts in 14 locations, from the Nexus and Stadtpark to hiking trails and mountain huts, more than half of them with free entry. Through careful planning, they made sure not to let organizational aspects – including QR codes and contact tracing – dominate, but to put music, art and fun at the center.

Christian Lillinger (drums), Elias Stemeseder, Craig Taborn (keyboards). Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski But there were also popular concerts of the Viennese Nino and Il Civetto in the Stadtpark, as well as neat and fun projects like Edi Nulz, The True Harry Nulz and Kuhn Fu VI. The Hang Em High trio, with drummerAlfred Vogel , performed with free rock associations in the newly opened Otto Gruber Halle for the festival, andMarc Ribot ‘s Ceramic Dog roars through a program of modified garage sounds. Finally, there was a lot of calm, free and delicate music to hear, from the pianist duo Sylvie Courvoisier and Kris davis ToDavid Helbock

of the new trio.

Sylvie Courvoisier, Kris Davis. Photo credit: Ralf DombrowskiThe 41 st

The Saalfelden Jazz Festival showed what can be done – even in tough times – when organizers, musicians and the public work together: a week of culture, fun and community with over 10,000 spectators over seven days of representation, and a perspective that goes beyond the week in August.

English version by Izzy BlankfieldLinks: Saalfelden International Jazz Festival

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