for no good reason.
Sure, it was a power trio that gave credence to the term power, and naturally, it was loud, but importantly, it was highly tasteful stuff. From the casual conversation overheard at the festival grounds, the uninitiated seemed surprised at the source of Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s cranium-crushing riffage, but Scandinavia has always excelled in this area, the region’s metal roots running deep for so long now.
The band’s focal point, bandleader Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen, had her performance plagued by technical gremlins in the guise of a dodgy guitar cable, but the three-piece comprises consummate musicians, attested to when even in the delirium of panic, the band held its composure without skipping a beat as Thomassen tried to get her guitar going. This wasn’t fare for the faint-hearted, but there was no way to doubt the power and fury on display. To get your socks rocked off, check out this trio in a live context.
The festival regained its equilibrium with the warm sounds of songstress Alison Burns and guitar guru Martin Taylor. While the Burns/Taylor duets were greeted with courteous applause, the euphoric responses were reserved for Taylor’s solo material, with Truth and Down At Kokomo’s lathering up the audience into a bubbly delight. Taylor has clearly become a fan favourite with the PIJF audience.
Party people rejoiced when Zimbabweborn and London-raised Eska hit the stage with her band in tow, engaging the boys and girls with a sunshiny vibe and balmy tunes. Like few others at the fest, Eska blurred the lines between jazz, funk and pop, and to give it a stamp all her own, threw in her African heritage for good measure.
She had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand midway through the set, but really had everyone in raptures when she “composed” a song impromptu.
Programming is everything at a music festival. The dynamics of the show is what keeps the audience either riveted to the stage, or heading to the concession stalls for spicy wedges and cider.
On both days, the crowd were nicely seated on the grass and plastic chairs (only until it kicked up a notch later when everyone stood and swung those hips). On the first day it was Holland’s Jazz Connection that put in a barnstorming set to end the night, but PIJF’s 10th anniversary went out on a whimper with JazzKamikaze.
Looking like it was a poor blueprint of aesthetics from 1980s hitmaker Spandau Ballet (though the Kemp brothers wrote far better songs), the Scandinavian group’s pop-centred sounds jarred with everything else that had come before. And unlike some of the other acts at the fest, which were heavy on instrumental music, JazzKamikaze had vocal-based songs, some of which were decent, but it came across as too incongruous a mix to warrant a place at PIJF ... definitely not as curtain closer, at least.
The performances aside, workshops were held during the festival. Musicians and industry experts shared their wisdom in dress down settings and more than one musician walked out the door either scratching his head in confusion or wide-eyed in complete comprehension.
A few truths were uncovered during the festival, but none more so than how spicy wedges work best with tartar sauce, not chilli.
There was no spin the bottle at this party.
All Dutch group Jazz Connection needed to do was stick to an
energetic serving of jive
and jazz standards to
end the shindig on a
high on Saturday night.