[Live Review] North Sea Jazz 2014, Ahoy Rotterdam

nsj-avatar-2014Summer is here! And that means a new edition of North Sea Jazz is also here once more to pump up the quality of the Dutch festival landscape. Like always the festival lineup is packed with some great names. What to think of Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Sun Ra Arkestra, Dave Holland, Outkast and Pharoah Sanders, just to name a few. No wonder the festival was sold-out well in advance. Yesterday, around five o’clock, spectators began to pour into thirteen areas of the Ahoy venue, eagerly awaiting an evening filled with jazz, blues, R&B, soul and funk. So, enough chit chat now, let’s kick-off this live review of North Sea Jazz’s friday the 11th of July.
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BADBADNOTGOOD – III

BADBADNOTGOOD - III_FRONTPlease bear with me for a moment: this review is about a young Canadian jazz trio that calls itself BadBadNotGood, which is written as BADBADNOTGOOD and abbreviated as BBNG. Seems simple right? Alas, it isn’t, especially when learning that BADBADNOTGOOD also is known under the confusing names of GoodGoodNotBad and The Odd Trio. Solely judging on the many band names one could say they’re struggling to find a comfort zone within the unruly landscape of the contemporary jazz scene. Or are they just here for the fun of it? Earlier this month BBNG dropped their third studio album since they started out in 2011 and remarkably carries the convenient name… III. Continue reading

Elysian Fields – For House Cats And Sea Fans

ELYSIAN-FIELDS-For-House-Cats-And-Sea-FansTransforming Goya’s painting Duelo a garrotazos into an epic noir rock track is one of Elysian Fields most notable milestones to date. After hearing it for the first time, Jennifer Charles’  lingering voice got me swamped as well. Charles’ sleepwalking and somber style is the band’s biggest strength and trademark. For House Cats And Sea Fans therefore contains more of the same delightful romanticism, and, frankly, that’s not a bad thing at all.

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Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit (2013)

Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit (2013)Lets face it, Gregory Porter is all about superlatives. With his impressive appearance and magnificent voice Porter is among today’s top jazz vocalists. Since the release of the debut album Water (2010) everything he touched turned into gold. Water was enthusiastically welcomed by the press and received a Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category. In 2012 his sophomore release Be Good proved to be just as successful as its predecessor. Be Good was a number-one debut on the iTunes Jazz Album Chart and reached top ten positions on various other charts. Moreover Porter was honoured with another Grammy nomination for the single ‘Real Good Hands’. Recently I saw Gregory Porter perform on the North Sea Jazz Festival with the Metropole Orchestra and, to throw in another superlative, it was breathtaking. Porter is on a high, so there´s no surprise a new release in 2013 was on the stocks. Beforehand there was no reason for fans and critics to worry about quality of Liquid Spirit, for Indeed the brand “Gregory Porter“ already stands for high quality jazz and soul. I However am obliged to uphold a critical attitude to all that´s hyped and hip and therefore question if the towering achievements of Porter
don´t lead to a case of the Midas touch. Continue reading

[Live Review] North Sea Jazz 2013, Ahoy Rotterdam

Artposter-NSJF-2013In many regards much about The Netherlands is small, yet this stereotype is not applicable when it comes to the amount of music festivals that are organized during the summertime. Each weekend, starting from June, the concert agenda is packed with festivals ranging from dance to rock, or maybe even better, both! One of the more prominent events is the annual jazz festival North Sea Jazz, that is currently taking place at the moment of writing. Are you new to North Sea Jazz? All right, here’s a very, very short introduction.
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Nehedar – This Heart (2013)

Nehedar - This HeartJust for a brief moment the frontcover of This Heart (2013) will undoubtedly make you think of P.J. Harvey. Although the lead vocalist of Nehedar, Emilia Cataldo and P.J. Harvey both have a deep love for New York City the similarities also end about there. For instance, the well known autumnal raw voice of Harvey is in strong contrast with the voice of Cataldo, whose voice is far more polished and controlled. Additionally, almost everything what is known about Cataldo breaths of cultural diversity. Cataldo is based in the midst of the multicultural New York, comes from a culturally diverse family and also holds a degree in Jewish Mysticism. This all echoes through in the music of Nehedar. Because of the foregoing the band is often associated with the Israeli community in the United States but can’t be pinned down as an ethnic specialized band for electonica, indie-rock and jazz are frequently added to their music. This Heart is my first introduction to Nehedar though it must be said that the band are not new to the scene, for it’s already their sixth independently produced album. Continue reading

The Heliocentrics – 13 Degrees of Reality (2013)

The Heliocentrics - 13 Degrees of Reality_coverCritics do tend to categorize new music into genres so it’s understandable for everyone. Certain bands however seem impossible to pin down. The Heliocentrics are such a band, for they play jazz and funk. Well… that’s done and dusted you might think. Now for the tricky part, the Londoners intermingle the before mentioned styles with avant-garde, electronics, psychedelics, hip hop and ethnic traditions. So obviously no category seems to suit the well-orchestrated eclecticism of The Heliocentrics. Luckily there is always room in the extraordinary  universe of Afrofuturist, Sun Ra, with whom the band is frequently compared.
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