Of the many musicians that the German ECM label, for which he has been recording since 2006, has helped to make internationally known, Nik Bärtsch from Switzerland is certainly one of the most original interpreters of current European jazz. His music, which he calls ‘Ritual Groove Music’, shows a strong affinity with organised spatial architectures and the principles of repetition and reduction as well as with complex rhythms. It is a concentrate of the universal sound and not of a single national or stylistic tradition, and changes continuously through superimpositions, directing the listener’s attention to minimal variations and phrasing.
Bergamo Jazz remembers, together with his brother Franco, musicologist, and the journalist Carlo Maria Cella, one of the photographers who most contributed to documenting the festival and making its name known internationally. The photographs of Keith Jarrett, taken in the Città Alta in 1973, and of the Art Ensemble of Chicago the following year are just two examples. Photographs, which soon became iconic, literally flew around the world, appearing in magazines, books and record covers.
Oliphantre is an explosion of sounds, both provocative and romantic. Hints of hip hop, mordant lines of rock and punk, grooves and melodic lyricisms are mixed with spontaneity and improvisation. Texts and music merge to give life to an inner quest for that sound imagery, those invisible movements that overpower attempts at rational explanation. With Oliphantre, Francesco Diodati, Leïla Martial and Stefano Tamborrino move smoothly within the world of jazz and its most unpredictable contaminations.
Free admission subject to availability of seats ONJGT Synthesis is the name that Paolo Damiani, a pivotal figure of the most adventurous Italian jazz since the 1970s, has given to this unprecedented ensemble, formed specially for Bergamo Jazz 2023 drawing on the members of the Orchestra Nazionale Jazz Giovani Talenti.
Lakecia Bemjamin is one of the most talented new names in overseas jazz, as a saxophonist but also as a musician, composer and, more generally, band leader. “I grew up with hip-hop and radio playlists. Living in a Latino community, I also played merengue, salsa and bachata. Because in the African American community you are encouraged to play all forms of black music,” she says. Her mentor, saxophonist Gary Bartz, introduced her to the art of the great masters of sax such as Charlie Parker, Jackie McLean and Coltrane. She then served her apprenticeship playing with Clark Terry, Anita Baker, Count Basie Orchestra, Kool and The Gang, Macy Gray, The Roots, Stevie Wonder and many others. She made international headlines in 2020 with the album Pursuance: The Coltranes, a heartfelt tribute to John and Alice Coltrane. Now she has a newly released album to propose live, Phoenix, produced by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and recorded with her usual partners and special guests such as Dianne Reeves, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Patrice Rushen and Sonia Sanchez.
Bergamo Jazz audiences have already had the opportunity on various occasions to appreciate the qualities that have made Hamid Drake one of the most sought-after jazz drummers of African American origin. This time, however, they will be offered the chance to appreciate his creative skills in a project dedicated to one of the symbols of music without borders: Alice Coltrane. And, attaching importance to his tribute, the drummer from Chicago has created a superband that on this special occasion features British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, great charismatic personality to whom we owe explosive bands like Sons of Kemet, A Comet Is Coming and Shabaka and The Ancestors. The rest of the cast is the top of the top, with the electronic alchemist Jan Bang, a leading light on the Scandinavian music scene, the Americans Jamie Saft, well known for his collaboration with John Zorn, and Joshua Abrams, a bass player with wide-ranging experience and the Italian Pasquale Mirra who has a long artistic partnership with Hamid Drake himself. In the foreground there is the dancer Ngoho Ange, whose movements make the musical content visually explicit.