On Sunday evening the ten-day Südtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2014 ended in Sterzing with standing ovations for one of the all-time greats of the international jazz scene, pianist Chick Corea, who was accompanied by Stanley Clarke on bass. The final concert was no “typical” programme event, but there was no mistaking the enthusiasm for the diversity on offer. Here is an initial assessment of the Festival.
The Südtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige should be seen as a “festival of discovery” emphasises its president, Klaus Widmann. So while there are always big names from the international jazz scene, the programme is especially rich in young musicians and bands who are developing innovative and creative projects. “For many years now we have put the emphasis on young, fresh artists, and we are now regarded internationally as a meeting point for young musicians who could not otherwise get together so easily”, says Widmann.
The results of these encounters are always surprising, he continues: “We hear sounds and rhythms that are contemporary, with classical instruments used alongside today’s technical possibilities. This constantly produces new and exciting things that might seem unusual to traditional jazz lovers, but offer a young audience a new approach to jazz music”. Several such projects could be heard at the recently ended Festival, with a particularly enthusiastic reception for the concert by Paris quartet Pipeline, held in Bozen’s Semirurali Park.
There were approximately 20,000 visitors to the Festival, confirming the trend of recent years: “We staged slightly fewer concerts this year as we wanted to make sure that the programme events did not clash with matches at this year’s World Cup”, says Widmann. Some open-air concerts too were literally a wash-out. “Our Festival is a journey of discovery through South Tyrol, accompanied by new music, with events very often held outdoors, which of course makes us dependent on the weather.” The “Sasslonch Suite”, a musical and acrobatic climbing-concert on the rock wall of the Langkofel peak, was an impressive experience for the several hundred spectators but, as Widmann admits, “fine weather would undoubtedly have improved the mood”.
Each concert was a very special event intimately linked to its backdrop: whether in the almost devotional character of the concert and readings held in Luserna, a cross-border special project on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, or with the genial atmosphere up on the Rittner Horn, or at the standing-room only spectacle on the Sparkassenplatz in Innsbruck – to name just a few.
Some 150 musicians appeared at this year’s total of almost 60 concerts. Many of them came from France, where a particularly innovative scene has evolved. “The creativity and quality with which these young people make music, and also give visible and audible form to the expression of our times, have exceeded even my expectations”, states Widmann.
The experts too had plenty of positive things to say about the 2014 Jazz Festival. “There were numerous journalists from Italy and Germany here, as well as from Paris and London for the first time. They were delighted to see that South Tyrol was a place to experience the new and not just the usual”, explains the president.
Widmann wishes to thank all partners and contributors to the Festival: “Our festival team has developed into one big family, and it is only because all those involved work so well together that we can put on such a large, broad-based Festival. That fills me with optimism for the future.”
The 33rd edition of the Südtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige is now all set for 2015, opening as usual on the last Friday in June (26 June 2015) and closing ten days later on Sunday, 5 July 2015.