Jan Garbarek and Nils Petter Molvær brighten up a rainy Au Grès du Jazz Festival

TD-Nils-Petter-Molvaer-04

Au Gres du Jazz Festival takes place in the beautiful setting of the tiny village of La Petite Pierre (59km from Strasbourg) in the Northern Vosges National Park region of Alsace. The 10-day festival features two main open air concerts on the weekends and one during the week. There's also an 'Off Festival' featuring two or three performances per day from local and regional artists in and around the village of La Petite Pierre. For such a small place (population around 600) there are a large number of hotels, restaurants and B&Bs. These of course do not cater purely for the jazz festival but for the many cyclists and ramblers who come to this area of the National Park to enjoy its outstanding natural beauty and the miles of trekking and cycle routes to be found here.

The main shows are staged in a large raked courtyard between the old village and the manor house that seats around 1,200, which is perfectly suited to jazz as it feels very intimate and, for an outdoor venue, the sound is exceptional. This year for the 15th edition of the festival, the main stage concerts were of a very high standard, with the likes of Avishai Cohen, Yaron Herman Trio, Jean-Luc Ponty/Biréli Lagrène/Kyle Eastwood, the Biréli Lagrène Acoustic Quartet and Shai Maestro all performing before we arrived.

Our first evening was the Hiromi/Edmar Castaneda Duo. The compactness of the setting certainly enhanced the atmosphere: the audience almost in the pockets of the two performers. Apart from a massive downpour which halted the concert for around thirty minutes, the duo kept the feeling and spirit of the show alive and no one left despite the atrocious conditions. The festival does have a 'Plan B' in case of inclement weather: a village hall that can squeeze just under 1,000 people inside. Following another rainy session with singer Hugh Coltman the following night the next three days were all inside.

TD-Jan-Garbarek-11

We were extremely lucky that in this location we saw two outstanding shows. The first featuring Jan Garbarek (above) and the second with Nils Petter Molvaer (top). Garbarek playing with percussion maestro Trilok Gurtu, pianist Rainer Brûninghaus and electric bassist Yuri Daniel was just brilliant. His style of filmic music starting with 'Molde Canticle' was perfectly suited to the rammed hall and the atmosphere was fantastic. Not stopping to speak to the audience once the concert flowed effortlessly with virtually no break. Gurtu's solo slot towards the end 'Nine Horses' (which when I heard this in the the vast open spaces of an arena seemed a little tedious) was in this situation exciting and spellbinding – the audience hanging on every note as he worked his way through a plethora of bells and gongs.

Each musician was given an extended solo slot and as well as Gurtu's tour de force, bassist Daniel's solo 'Tao' also a treat giving the audience a masterclass in bass styles from Pastorius to Haden. Nils Petter Molvær brought his 'Buoyancy' project to the festival which is his homage to all things diving and underwater. The trio featuring guitarist Eivind Aarset and electronics and percussionist Vladislav Delay were as enthralling as Garbarek had been two nights previously. The CD features more musicians, so live percussionist Delay has to double up as an electronics wizard – his stage set a mind boggling mess of cables and control switches.

The music of course was far from chaotic, superbly orchestrated by Molvaer the music ebbed and flowed like the waves in his original idea – haunting, threatening and serenely beautiful his interjections on trumpet inspired and moving. He segued into 'Nature Boy' surely a nod towards Esbjörn Svensson. A brilliant two hours of music.

TD-Airelle-Besson-45

Rising star French trumpeter Airelle Besson (above) featured in two shows, firstly, with her own quartet which features Isabel Sörling on vocals sounding not too dissimilar to Anne Paceo's Triphase and secondly, with pianist Edouard Ferlet and bassist Stéphane Kerecki which was a more interesting set. Heavily influenced by Delta blues (and Dr John in particular) singer Marion Rampal was very entertaining. Anne Paceo on drums and pianist Pierre Francois Blanchard made up the trio which is quite quirky but well worth catching.

TD-Archie-Shepp--Joachim-Kuhn-66

The last big night featured Archie Shepp and Joachim Kuhn (above). The two masters of jazz played a wonderful concert each with such deep understanding of the other. Shepp undoubtedly took the lead. Shepp's playing was on top form and his inventive soloing a joy to listen too. Kuhn is a master, supporting Shepp throughout then when taking his own solos, he would slide off on his own improvisational take on the tune ultimately returning for Shepp to finish it off. It's rare in jazz to see a gig where the artists are older than the audience and this was one and a very special gig at that.

La Petite Pierre is a mature, laid back, but very well organised festival. Its setting in a rural location would suit any jazz fan who also has a love of walking or cycling – there are other places to visit nearby – the Lalique museum and the start of the Alsace wine route being two and there are plenty of options for accommodation in the area. For next year's festival dates and more information check the festival website www.festival-augresdujazz.com

– Tim Dickeson (Story and Photos)

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Kamasi Washington and Donny McCaslin wow at So What’s Next? Festival – Photo Report

Kamasi Washington and Donny McCaslin wow…

Jazz was just the starting point at an eclectic fifth...

Read More.....
Matthew Herbert’s (Anti) Brexit Big Band Receive Government Export Funding

Matthew Herbert’s (Anti) Brexit Big Band…

Jazz-influenced experimental musician, composer, conceptualist and now political protester Matthew...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directors series and tour

Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directo…

Multi-award winning saxophonist and composer Courtney Pine has been announced...

Read More.....
Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoustic alchemy at Ronnie Scott’s

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoust…

Mark Guiliana is associated with a certain level of jazz-fusion...

Read More.....
Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

"If you have to ask, you don't know by now...

Read More.....
Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

This month sees two jazz photography exhibitions take place –...

Read More.....
Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Islington Assembly Hall

Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Isli…

Miles Mosley has already started making waves in the UK...

Read More.....
Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth The Fifth Man At Tampere Jazz Happening

Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth…

  A curious sight catches the keenest of eyes on the...

Read More.....
Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings Place Retelling Of Their Traveller's Tale

Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings…

It was during the late 1980s that John Surman (above)...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at Barbican

Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at…

In these turbulent times small things can provide a reassuring...

Read More.....
Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from the EFG London Jazz Festival

Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from t…

This year's 25th anniversary edition of the EFG London Jazz...

Read More.....
Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

  Though it may have escaped many of the thousands of...

Read More.....
Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfest Berlin

Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfes…

  For his third and final edition of Jazzfest Berlin, the...

Read More.....
Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and club programme highlights as 25th EFG London Jazz Festival gears up

Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and c…

This year's EFG London Jazz Festival kicks off its milestone...

Read More.....
Tommy Smith goes it alone and together with Brian Kellock

Tommy Smith goes it alone and together w…

Saxophonist Tommy Smith takes his latest project home this month...

Read More.....
Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok Amor unleash improv anarchy at Enjoy Jazz

Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok …

Some festivals cram everything into a single weekend, but Enjoy...

Read More.....
Andy Sheppard, Native Dancer and Beats & Pieces line-up for Cambridge Jazz Fest

Andy Sheppard, Native Dancer and Beats …

The third edition of the Brewin Dolphin Cambridge International Jazz...

Read More.....
Christian McBride Big Band, Kamasi Washington and Randy Crawford for Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2018

Christian McBride Big Band, Kamasi Washi…

The first names have been announced for the 22nd edition...

Read More.....
Saxophonist Steve Coleman Sublimely Elemental At Paris Showcase

Saxophonist Steve Coleman Sublimely Elem…

  As Britain attempts what seems like an ungainly improvisation out...

Read More.....
Love Supreme Jazz Festival Rocks Up To The Roundhouse

Love Supreme Jazz Festival Rocks Up To T…

  With this year's annual event having drawn its biggest audience...

Read More.....
Oli Rockberger Rules The Multi-Genre Roost For Sovereign Launch

Oli Rockberger Rules The Multi-Genre Roo…

Whether exploring a gospel-tinged, hymnic solo introduction, which would have...

Read More.....
Atzmon & Orient House Ensemble Pay Tribute To Legends At Pizza Express

Atzmon & Orient House Ensemble Pay T…

Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble will be presenting...

Read More.....
Ronnie Scott’s Instrument Amnesty Returns

Ronnie Scott’s Instrument Amnesty Return…

Following the success of the inaugural Music Instrument Amnesty in...

Read More.....
Instant Composers Pool Orchestra goes Dutch with UK and Ireland dates

Instant Composers Pool Orchestra goes Du…

The unique, internationally renowned Instant Composers Pool Orchestra launches Going...

Read More.....
Martin Taylor and Jazz at The Philharmonic concert to save Swanage Jazz Festival

Martin Taylor and Jazz at The Philharmon…

News that this year's 28th edition of the Swanage Jazz...

Read More.....
Nérija, Dinosaur and Jim Mullen among Parliamentary Jazz Award winners

Nérija, Dinosaur and Jim Mullen among Pa…

The 13th annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards took place for the...

Read More.....
Hugh Masekela withdraws from Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya concert due to ill health

Hugh Masekela withdraws from Abdullah Ib…

Revered South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela has announced that, due...

Read More.....
Dee Byrne's Entropi Radiate Amid Rough And Tumble At Kings Place Album Launch

Dee Byrne's Entropi Radiate Amid Rough A…

  The most striking thing about Moment Frozen, the second release from British...

Read More.....
Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach fire-up new Eastside Jazz Club

Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach fire-up …

The opening night of Birmingham's new Eastside Jazz Club featured...

Read More.....
James Taylor And Soweto Kinch Among Poetic Masters Of Rhythm And Rhyme At 2017 Limerick Fest

James Taylor And Soweto Kinch Among Poet…

  The Limerick Jazz Festival continues to spring surprises, and to...

Read More.....
Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach, Christine & Ingrid Jensen and Mark Turner head to Birmingham’s Eastside Jazz Club

Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach, Christine …

Jazz in the Midlands got a huge boost with the...

Read More.....
Mike Gibbs' Dramatic Big Band Birthday Bash A Blast At Birmingham's CBSO Centre

Mike Gibbs' Dramatic Big Band Birthday B…

  In celebration of his 80th year, the composer and arranger...

Read More.....
Mike Carr – 1937-2017

Mike Carr – 1937-2017

Mike Carr, who died on 22 September aged 79, was...

Read More.....
Jazz FM's Sarah Ward, Chris Philips and Nigel Williams up for radio  awards

Jazz FM's Sarah Ward, Chris Philips and …

Two of Jazz FM's longest serving presenters, DJs Sarah Ward...

Read More.....
Joon Moon Exclusive stream of ‘Moonshine Corner’

Joon Moon Exclusive stream of ‘Moonshine…

This year's EFG London Jazz Festival features a performance by...

Read More.....
Westbrook and Wakeman line up with the Uncommon Orchestra for A Bigger Show

Westbrook and Wakeman line up with the U…

Although Mike and Kate Westbrook are based in the West...

Read More.....

ABJazzWise


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Tyshawn Sorey soundtracking Friday's dark-tidings again. Check out him on the youtube link and then grab a listen t… https://t.co/oebOEqxWRe
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@MusicClerk @AbstractTruth @outandgonemusic @astspiritsrec @KirkdaleBooks @Shawn_Galvin @frozenreeds Sounds like the Brexit National Anthem
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA