Shirma Rouse, well known as a gospel and a soul singer (with a preference for the music of Aretha Franklin) is also very capable of singing jazz in a wonderful way. And, not unimportantly, she creates a nice atmosphere in the room. She emphasizes the improvised nature of her standards ‘we have not arranged any musical endings’ and her performance with an excellent, drumless band, was a good start of the nineteenth edition of Festival Jazz In Rotterdam.
Efe Erdem and his Pack Project, programmed in the large LanterenVenster hall 1, were well prepared. Four string instruments gave his music a classical harmonious nature, bass and drums provided solid grooves and Erdem’s own trombone solos added exciting edges to his compositions. Erdem composed a warm-blooded tribute to one hundred years of jazz in Rotterdam. Ship’s horns could be recognized, but first and foremost this was about the musical melting pot in which different kinds of European jazz find each other. The audience were close to the musicians who came from all over Europe; seats were arranged round the stage, giving the hall an attractive intimacy. Erdem played longer than scheduled, but nobody worried about that.
Sun-Mi Hong, born in South Korea and now based in Amsterdam, said she was genuinely proud to be programmed for this Rotterdam festival. With their firm and powerful hardbob, the Sun-Mi Hong Quintet played a more than convincing set.
In July the Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana played in a small room at North Sea Jazz so that many people missed her performance. At the Jazz In Rotterdam Festival they were able to enjoy more than an hour of a delicious concert by Aldana’s Quintet at LantarenVenster.
Drummer Philippe Lemm and his American trio combined exuberant rhythms with subtle melodic jazz at the Dutch Photomuseum. As an encore, the Dutch percussionist recited his own poem about New York City.
Greg Ward’s Rogue Parade closed the first evening. The group played a gritty set for the diehards who wanted to stay till the very final moments.
The second evening had a different character than the first. Music was made in six different venues, it was considerably busier and people gathered in front of the rooms before the start of the concerts. Making choices was a must. Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio’s performance was downright spectacular. Where on Friday the audience were gathered in silent admiration around the stage, the seats had now disappeared. After an exciting start with the greasy funk sound of Lamarr’s Hammond organ, the band leader announced his guest: ‘I am sure you gonna like this dude, his name is Benjamin Herman!’ The Rotterdam saxophonist had met the American trio that same afternoon, but they spoke each other’s musical language and shared their musical humor. It resulted into ecstatic solos: Herman left the tracks deliberately, guitarist Jimmy James terrorized the tempos and put his teeth in his strings in the spirit of Hendrix. The group closed the set stylishly with George Michael’s guilty pleasure ‘Careless Whisper’.
In Belvédère, historical jazz ground on the Cape, trumpeter Eric Vloiemans was given carte blanche. In an interview before the show Vloeimans explained that he had written nine new pieces for the occasion. He played these ‘Momu 1 to 9’ with guitarist Jorrit Westerhof and cellist Jörg Brinkmann. Belvédère was packed but the audience listened in silence to the joyful, moving, strong new compositions and a beautiful rendition of Gatecrash. After that it was deejay Okki’s turn to create the right vibes.
Other venues also remembered 100 years of jazz in Rotterdam. In theater Walhalla, Crime Jazz revived: a mix of ‘spoken word’, hip hop, visual arts and improvised music. Something similar happened at Walhalla canteen with NuMoonLabs, where new jazz talents were discovered at the beginning of this century. After a hundred years, jazz is alive and kicking in Rotterdam!