Talo’s Festival 2014 – A People’s Music Celebration

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Devoid of McDonalds, billboards, militarized police and security cameras, the social tranquility that breezes through the ancient town of Ruvo di Puglia in southern Italy proved an idyllic setting to present a mostly free festival celebrating both the regions boisterous Banda brass & wind orchestras, and a bounty of beautiful jazz and improvised music making. It’s thanks to the vision and energy of artistic director Pino Minafra (think Instabile Orkestra) that nary a single event fell short of the highest standard for concert presentation and performance. Britain was represented by Keith & Julie Tippetts, alongside Louis Moholo-Moholo in their deeply moving tribute concert ‘For Mandela’.

Augmented in simpatico with a bevy of Italian players the Minafric Orchestra brought to life the magnificent compositions of Keith Tippett, the legendary South Africans, and their glorious national anthem. Keith also gave a solo piano concert that organically unfolded a highly impressionistic musical journey. Old lion Louis Moholo-Moholo met the extraordinarily talented young tiger, pianist Livio Minafra for an improvisation on built on a foundation of intimacy. Individually their creativity and technical wells were deeply resourceful, and the results of their meeting proved resplendent with dynamical drama and emotional joy. And Britain’s Ogun Records was the subject of a small conference celebrating the label’s 40th anniversary. Otherwise the trio of saxophonist Roberto Ottaviano presented the compositions of Steve Lacy, with all their Monkish wit, to the delight of enthusiastic audience. The soprano, bass and drum sounds hung with bold purity unamplified within the acoustics of the town’s wine refinery.

Under the night sky Holland’s ICP Orchestra won over the local audience from an outdoor stage, set up in the center of Ruvo’s breathtaking beautiful old town. They also generously developed and delivered a workshop concert with local young musicians. Theirs is the spirit that informs Talos Festival, rooted in the people, their music, with cooperation trumping commercial concession. It’s a deep breath of fresh air from the dominant culture that remains either indifferent or hostile to higher socialist ideals. Bravo Talos!

– Michael King