26 April 2008

Jazz boundaries should be pushed Sunday at J_B_S

The Swiss trio Zoom led by percussionist Lucas Niggli will headline the final night of the Jazz_Bishkek_Spring festival tonight. Zoom trombonist Nils Wogram will also perform in a duo with Saadet Türköz, the Kazakh-Turkish vocalist, starting at 6 p.m. at the Philharmonic Hall.

The impeccable playing of contrabassist Matthias Akeo Nowak almost overshadowed the stellar piano of his bandleader, but the rambunctious vocals of Diana Ziyatdinova may have left the deepest impression on the audience at the Jazz_Bishkek_Spring festival Saturday evening.

The Lars Duppler Trio, which also featured Jens Düppe on drums, affectionately reinterpreted the works of German composter Kurt Weill on the second night of the international festival at the Philharmonic Hall in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Duppler reimagined and thoroughly contemporized the compositions of Weill, who died in 1950 and is perhaps best remembered for The Threepenny Opera he co-created with dramatist Bertold Brecht in 1929.

But if bouncing in the seats was any indicator, Ziyatdinova’s booming vocals on several classic compositions from the American standards songbook, including “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” won most of the hearts and minds Saturday. Ziyatdinova was the featured vocalist with Artzakh, the legendary jazz band founded by the Safarov brothers in Uzbekistan in 1954. Artzakh doesn’t tend to venture far from playbook of jazz standards, but the septet peaked when it fused Central Asia folk traditions into songs like “Caravan,” which afforded sweet solos from saxophonist Rustam Gazilev, clarinetist Aziz Abidov, and Davron Akbarbekov on nagara, a small kettle drum of Indian origin.

Opening the evening was the Kyrgyz group Aura, whose uninspiring set surprisingly failed to include some of its most creative compositions.

Sunday may prove to the best most adventurous of the three-day festival, which characterizes itself as “music without borders.” The first half of the program, which starts at 6 p.m., will include the duo of the Kazakh-Turkish vocalist Saadet Türköz and German trombonist Nils Woogram. Mizrob, the genre-defying ensemble of traditional instrumentalists from Tajikistan, will perform with members of Shams, an Iranian traditional group. Closing the festival with be Zoom, the Swiss trio led by percussionist Lucas Niggli and featuring Wogram, the trombonist, and Phillip Schaufelbeger on guitar.

Many of the artists at the Bishkek festival are also performing this same weekend at the more established International Jazz Festival in nearby Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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