The 41st Südtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige explores the future of jazz

The sound of our times

Jazz flows - and this stream crosses waterfalls and sandbanks, forms swirls and is yet unstoppable. Since the emergence of the cheerful and light-footed Dixieland after the First World War, there has been a connection between the times in which jazz musicians live and the style they play on their instruments. From June 30 to July 9, the Südtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige in 55 concerts will be showing that this has not changed over the years. The festival prefers to focus on music that digs the riverbed in which the great stream will later flow. Mainstream? No thanks! The new curatorial board of Stefan Festini Cucco, Max von Pretz and Roberto Tubaro will further develop the artistic direction taken in recent years, with unorthodox playgrounds and innovative and stylistically boundless music.

Also this year, the festival’s "base camp“ will be situated at the Kapuziner Park in Bolzano. Additionally, there are more than 30 magnetic venues all over the country. The festival has invited bands and soloists from the emerging and experimental European scene, who combine jazz with pop, rock, punk, hip-hop, noise, folk, 20th century modernism and other contemporary music styles. Routine? No, thanks! The Südtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige prefers adventure, and this year depicts it through a flying island in its logo. Driven by music, in between the clouds this island allows you to discover new sounds and tones and to immerse yourself in a surreal landscape.

In 2023, the festival will have a programmatic "visit" to major European cities that are jazz hotspots. In Amsterdam, the conservatory–where former Artist in Residence Reinier Baas teaches guitar–works as an incubator for young musicians. Korean drummer Sun-Mi Hong's quintet, based in the Dutch metropolis, combines original compositions with excursions into unexplored realms of improvised music. The Dane Teis Semey also belongs to the generation that is shaping the sound of Amsterdam today. With his band he mixes punk, free jazz, and folk music from Scandinavia into a sharp jazz cocktail that is danceable and sounds lyrical-contemplative at the same time.

The Bobby Rausch trio from Berlin evokes the urban night at the interface between jazz and hip-hop, addressing all those who have had enough of compromises. With improvisational freedom and the synthesis of acoustic instruments and electronic soundscapes, the young Berlin band Sinularia creates the beat music of the third millennium. Pianist and singer KID BE KID playfully and virtuously dissolves familiar genre boundaries when she works the black and white keys. She merges jazz piano, funky R&B grooves, club-ready sci-fi synth pads, electronic patterns and her expressive soul vocals.

If you're looking for offbeat sounds, you should definitely visit the French clubs, but of course these eccentric and innovative sounds are also to be found in South Tyrol. Accordionist Noé Clerc's trio combines Armenian folk, experimental contemporary jazz, and early 20th century classical modernism. The band La Litanie des Cimes will produce the meditative soundtrack of an apocalyptic disaster film at the Poschhausstollen mine in the Ridnaun Valley. The trio Nout, with its punk jazz sound, blithely transcends all barriers with drums, harp and flute, and the guitarist Antoine Boyer, who has won many awards in classical music and gypsy jazz, will perform together with the Korean harmonica virtuoso Yeore Kim at the Roner distillery in Tramin.

For its 41st edition, the Südtirol Jazzfestival Alto Adige has also invited Santander-born flutist and saxophonist Juan Saiz. A musician, who is oriented towards avant-garde, musical impressionism, and free improvisation. With the band Acoustic Unity, led by Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen, a top Northern European is coming to South Tyrol. Polish pianist Joanna Duda's trio mixes ambient and minimal music, a pinch of baroque and a touch of romanticism, sounds of nature and synthetic sounds in order to create a dense spherical music. The band LAV SOL, based in Trondheim, Norway, incorporates electronic music, hip-hop and rock and uses graphic scores that depict harmonic structures to communicate with live music.

As an "offbeat" conclusion to the respective daytime program, the late-night concerts at the Batzen Sudwerk in Bolzano stretch the boundaries of contemporary jazz into the unknown. The seven late-night concerts start with the Breton drummer Sébastien Brun, who, in his solo project “Ar Ker”, moves between shamanism and electronics. The Italian trio t “plays” robots produced in their own laboratory and questions the perception of time. The Viennese band Kry opens up new sound spaces, and the trio Edi Nulz celebrates a “dirty chamber punk jazz”. The Belgian band Don Kapot presents a jazz suite created with a lot of improvisational work with pianist Fulco Otterwanger. An Estontian trio led by piano player Kirke Karja draws inspiration from the horror cinema of the silent film era and from machinery scrap.

Austrian bassist Lukas Kanzelbinder performs at Sudwerk with two exclusive projects–a new band with drummer Sun-Mi Hong and Iranian clarinetist Mona Riahi, and an event where music will be physically experienced. Kranzelbinder along with flutist Delphine Joussein, saxophonist Johannes Schleiermacher and drummer Julian Sartorius will play continuously for five hours in a space that can only be entered or left at scheduled times, where the audience can enjoy, dance and listen at a new kind of jazz ritual.

Numerous concerts take place in locations  and situations quite uncommon for hosting concerts. For example, Austrian musicians Siegmar Brecher (clarinet), Lorenz Raab (trumpet) and Valentin Schuster (drums) will accompany a jazz hike in the middle of the Dolomites, that leads from the Gardenacia Hut in Wolkenstein to the Silvester chapel in Langental. The Italian trio Fat Honey combines the rebellious poetry slam of hip-hop with funk and jazz and will play at several different locations. The British-Korean duo in: 人 plays an old WWII bunker in Bolzano. Cellist Mabe Fratti from Guatemala will be performing her own experimental compositions in a solo concert at the Parkhotel Holzner garden in Oberbozen, and the young German band Stax will be playing at the Trejer See, a mountain lake at Speikboden.

Improvising instead of marching: With the title “Fortjazz” Dan Kinzelman (saxophone), Glauco Benedetti (tuba) and Filippo Vignato (tuba) lead the audience through the corridors, vaults, and casemates of the Franzensfeste fortress. A “labyrinth of stone” becomes a concert stage for sweeping contemporary jazz–a counterpoint to the rigid military music that used to be heard there in past times. 

The concert calendar with dates, locations and line-ups is now available online.
Graphics by Roberto Tubaro