The sax with the Mona Lisa smile

Mette Henriette Martedatter Rølvåg was sitting in a concert in Oslo. Next to her, Manfred Eicher, founder of the German record Label ECM. They started chatting. Next thing on the timeline is Mette Henriette debuting with a double-CD album under ECM’s wing.

 The Norwegian saxophonist’s career has escalated quickly, and her debut album as a leader saxophonist sounds like nothing else around it. Elegant and soft, powerful within its delicacy, it shouts directly to the bowels and she succeeds in creating a personality that is reaffirmed by her live performances. During the third day of this years edition of the Jazzfest Berlin, Henriette shares stage with a whole new formation, presented in world premiere: Henrik Nørstebø on trombone, Lavik Larsen on trumpet, Johan Lindvall on piano, Andreas Rokseth on bandoneón, Odd Hannsidal and Karin Hellqvist on violins, Bendik Foss on viola, Gregor Riddell on cello, Per Zanussi on double bass and saw and Dag Erik Knedal Andersen on drums. On Thursday the 3rd of November, at 8pm, after Julia Hülsmann’s Quartet, the light changes.


Ignitable, robust, powerful, raw, harsh, stripped, fresh, pointy, strong, hefty, delicate, intimate, talkative, legendary, magical, epic, ancestral, traditional, glacial, soft, meditative, controlled, curious, focused, carrying, invisible.


Yet it travels on the skin.

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When silence speaks (in blue)

The last day of the 53rd edition of the JazzFest Berlin, and after the journey one large dish is served on a sunny Sunday afternoon: the Karl Wilhelm Gedächnis Kirche hosts an interesting dialogue between organ and trumpet. Alexander Hawkins and Wadada Leo Smith present in this solemn environment their ‘Blue Meditation’ piece. As only a warning, the director of the festival Richard Williams, quotes Wadada, stating this is going to be “music with the breath of life”.


Light is blue. Shining, powerful and bright blue. Cerulean, turquoise, cyan. It penetrates the millions of small square glasses that cover the walls of the Memorial. It comes into the big hall and illuminates the floating dust. Traveling until it hits a reflecting surface.

The most solemn journey, as it dies, hitting the big, golden sculpture of Christ that hangs. Flying, towards at the front of the church, right on the altar, flying right on the big golden cross.

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Retrato de una manzana

Qué es el imposible. Aquí no hay nada que no puedas hacer. Aquí el hombre que caminó entre torres y bruma, acunado por las nubes y los gritos y los soplos de aire inspirado y arrestado en el pecho de los observadores, en suspense y suspensión, allá abajo en el suelo. La jungla de cemento, de cristal y cristales y piedras preciosas y polvo en los rincones y en la parte posterior de los semáforos.

Un calor insoportable sube desde el asfalto, escala las paredes, se cuela en las rendijas de las ventanas y en el trozo de cremallera que no funciona del bolso de la mujer de azul. Sube y sube y rodea los cuerpos y los hace sudar sin parar, en permanente ducha. En permanente lucha.

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The sound of listening

Trumpet virtuoso Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah returned this year to the Montreal Jazz Festival with a brand new sextet, blessed with the fresh air of all his young musicians. For three consecutive nights this 33-year-old New Orleans-born musician filled the Gesù with high-quality music – and energy. Thursday was for his sextet, but on Friday and Saturday Scott aTunde Adjuah shared stage with Charlie Hunter and Lizz Wright, respectively. Three shows that he used to present his latest project: Stretch Music.


“It’s a communicative ability”

Lights are soft. Red tones.

“With a vocabulary not learned in any way you can point at, someone can say four words and break your heart”

Whispers, someone screaming at the back of the room. All eyes on the stage.

“Ultimately it becomes about whether or not you are willing to see yourself”

Five shadows climb on the stage. Wild applause.

“When certain people play, I feel as if they are tapped into a source that most people never get to, but it is not external, it is internal.”

Piano, bass, drums, flute, saxophone, trumpet. Soldiers to your posts.

“The players that have the most captivating, pointed, original and unique sounds are the ones that irradiate it, in one way or another. It is always something that comes from your core.”

And then, the pianist caresses the keys, the bass dances with its huge wooden instrument, drummer hits the toms, unexpected whistle coming out of the flute, a whispered cutting sound hitting the microphone straight from the trumpet.

Powerful, smashing, spectacular, grandiose.

It’s music. And it comes straight from their cores.

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Man in black

Erik Truffaz returns to the Montreal Jazz Festival 15 years after his first time in the Quebecois city, accompanied by his quartet (Marcello Giuliani on the bass, Benoit Corboz on piano and Arthur Hnatek on drums, who takes the place of the historic drummer of the ensemble, Marc Erbetta). The Salle Ludger-Duvernay, at the Monument National, is the chosen spot for the presentation of this French quartet’s last album, Doni Doni, which features new influences coming from their collaboration project with the South-African dancing company Vuyani and two voices: Rokia Traoré and Oxmo Puccino.


Man in black. White hair. Hat.

Old noise, echoes, floating sounds. Psychedelic playing.

Spirals, loops, never-ending stories.

Puts a hand on his forehead, tries to see beyond the spotlight.

A hint of a smile.

The trumpet does not shine. His eyes do.

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To tell a story

Marcus Miller’s career keeps growing. After years of studio playing in New York, this American bassist and clarinettist hit the road 15 years ago, and has been conquering stages all over the world ever since. For the 37th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival, he appeared again on the Theatre Maisonneuve last Wednesday, 6th of July. Accompanied by Brett Williams in charge of the keyboards, Alex Bailey holding the drumsticks, Alex Han blowing the saxophone and Russell Gunn making the trumpet scream, Miller presents his last work, Afrodeezia, a pan-history of black culture featuring collaborations from musicians all along the slavery route through the Atlantic.


The beat is high. Fast. Powerful. Four musicians on stage and rays of light bouncing on the bodies of microphones, on the skin of the trumpet and the sax, on the shiny corners of the drums, on the keys of the two keyboards.

Strong nerves coming from the seating. The audience’s enthusiasm transformed into a wild applause and eventual shouts or whistles.

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The speech of the strings

The choice for the 7th night of the series Le Festival à la Maison Symphonique is a big one. The combination between Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and Australian guitar master Tommy Emmanuel turns out to be the best bet to fill Montreal’s Maison Symphonique on the 5th of July’s warm night. The program is double, as each musician gets mostly a 90-minute set to play. As Per Tommy Emmanuel himself, he presents his latest album, It’s Never Too Late.


Long corridor. Little light. Grey carpet.

End of the road and a huge room appears. Covered in soft, light wood. A sea of seats. A big stage. A magnificently high ceiling, spots of white light splattering the whole auditorium.

And a huge organ upside down, dyed in blue as long rays of blue light illuminate the back of the scenario.

Murmurings, whispering, occasional shouting.

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