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Gent Jazz Report July 2010

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This Summer, Nicole & I went to Gent Jazz. This is a rather small festival, max capacity is 6,000. It's two extra long weekends. First weekend is supposed to be the "pure" Jazz - although the first gig was Norah Jones. My wife does not care for pure Jazz - although she also really enjoyed Herbie Hancock in 2008 there. So I only booked for the second weekend with all kinds of music that's vaguely connected to Jazz. If you take two evenings, you might as well buy into a three-day ticket and that's what we did. There are three performances each evening, so we saw nine in total. I will discuss those that were exceptional and you should go see if you're open-minded like me and you have the chance to attend to if they're in your neighborhood.




I spoke to the guy who takes good care of the facilities (he's a neighbor of mine) and he told me that there weren't too many people the first weekend, except for the Norah Jones gig. It's rumored that the organization only recently recovered from the losses that the first years caused - when they did not yet program the wider material. You'd need to go to Holland to find a real successful "proper" Jazz festival: The Hague Jazz.


Gent Jazz is located on a very nice neo-Gothic site that recently saw the addition of some pure modern architecture. It's in the expansion of a school. The gigs are in a tent (it rains a lot in Belgium, but we did not see any rain) and the surface for catering is twice that size. We are in Belgium after all! One of the main sponsors is DUVEL, one of the best blond beers in the world. It is perfectly cooled and served in the proper glass and all, do you know any other festival that does this? You only can't bring the glass in the tent, obviously. But there are kids that poor the good liquid in plastic cups if you want to finish your drink in the tent...




So, my top three gigs in random order:


1/ Mariza.

It's Fado. I'm not into Fado. But I'm now into Mariza singing the Fado! Fado is the Portuguese traditional vocal music that sounds slow and sad. To my knowledge, the singer is always female. Mariza (°1973) lives in Lisbon, but is originally from Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony. Three men provided the instruments: traditional guitar & Bass guitar, drums. They sat down, only Mariza stood on her feet. She looks stunning with her brown skin, big eyes, platinum died short roaring twenties style hair and a dark purple dress. She immediately and completely charmed over everybody, definitely including this guy! She sang unbelievable... Between the songs, she spoke calmly in English and the audience adored her. What a diva! Go and see her perform if you ever can. I rushed to get her recent CD "Terra" the next day, but it is not the same thing without her actual presence. Hmm, ERC-1 not so good after all? LOL! Her musicians were also outstanding, they did one instrumental "Guitarra".




2/ Gilberto Gil

Top of the bill Thursday after Mariza. The worldwide best known Brazilian artist, he even was Secretary of Culture for some years. He has a certain age and this grandpa spoke even more calmly between the songs. He explained that he wanted to perform the "Baião" that night. Sounded Cajun with that accordion and the violin. His band is a fantastic rhythm machine with double percussion. First song was "Festa". Indeed, a party it was! Gil's global reputation is well deserved IMO! The encore was the top of the night when he duet-ted with Mariza. The audience - including me - was thrilled.



3/ Madness

Saturday's head liner. Don't know how well they are known outside Europe, but they were all over the hit charts 30 years ago. It's Ska. It's based on Reggae, but faster and more commercial, poppy. Madness are with ten people on stage including 2 sax, trombone and trumpet. The tent was packed and we all pogo-ed up and down from the very first minute! It was so great hearing that music that is etched in our minds from our youth. Mind you, many people there weren't even born when Madness first hit the charts. The roof went of the tent. Great party!



All in all: very happy and privileged that we saw some of the most brilliant performers on the planet.


Fully Balanced Differential Stereo: Jamo R909 < Emotiva XPA-1 < XLR < Emotiva XSP-1 < Weiss DAC2 < Oyaide d+ FW400/800 < iMac < Synology DS1815+ NAS

Software: Amarra Symphony iRC, XLD, iTunes.

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