Even for a modest act like the Bill Frisell quartet, enthusiasm is high at the Rockit Festival at Groningen’s Oosterpoort. Last year, this one-day Northern version of North Sea Jazz was cancelled at the last minute because of Covid. This must be the reason for the audience’s exuberance. Singer Petra Haden, cellist Hank Roberts and bass guitarist Luke Roberts bring three-part country and gospel songs with guitarist Frisell. It is a beautiful combination of chamber jazz and close harmony.
Joshua Redman’s quartet is welcomed in the main hall as a popular rock band. Saxophonist Redman, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade react visibly surprised and, by the sound of it, turn up the heat. “This venue is quite something else than one of those classical concert halls where the sound is shit,” says Redman, apparently referring to his recent performance in Amsterdam. After a convincing start, the bandleader gets the hall completely quiet during a solo saxophone intro. After a hiatus of more than two decades, during which the members had their own projects, the quartet plays better than ever. At the end of the gig, Redman compliments the audience: “Thank you for behaving beyond your prescribed role.”
American singer Lizz Wright also impresses. With her warm, deep voice, she performs a selection from her rich gospel, country and blues repertoire. Her band, which includes a lovely Hammond organ, accompanies wholeheartedly.
Drummer Guy Salamon and his band play energetic party music with Balkan elements and Israeli influences. Even the super-fast solos sound tight.
Nubya Garcia tells that she had been in this building a year ago when she was told the gig would not go ahead. The London-based tenor saxophonist’s performance is doubly celebratory as it is her final one in this successful year. Garcia and her band play a cool mix of jazz, reggae and dubstep.