BY WILLIE CLARK
The Lucio Ferrara Trio kicked off the 2012 Jazz Festival for me at the Rochester Club. It played soft, slow, romantic jazz, with Ferrara’s guitar playing holding most of the spotlight. His fingers walked up and down the frets, guiding the string bass and drums while each took separate turns at soloing.
The trio was a good fit for the room, working well with the casual dinner atmosphere. The band kept everything pretty mellow, save for a few crescendos and percussive explosions, but that was as much due to what seemed to be some over-micing of the drum set, which was mixed a little loud with the other instruments. We also got a few bowed string-bass solos, which are always a good time. It’s nice to hear an exploration of the lower octaves of the jazz world.
Next up was the Goran Kajfes Subtropic Arkestra on the Nordic stage at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. The group called for and required a bit of patience. It took simple ideas and melodic lines and mixed them with an accompanying scramble of sounds, including effects, electronic sampling, and the keys/organ, slowly building it all into something like a roar, before simmering and stopping abruptly, just short of overkill. It was a mix of weird and groovy, each song like a wad of musical putty that the band would slowly roll out, bend, twist, and mix, before the audience could finally see the exact sculpture the group was creating. If you trusted them enough to follow along on the ride, you just might enjoy it. The group is also the recipient of my first Ron Burgundy Award of the year for its use of the super-awesome jazz flute.
I finished my night at the Big Tent with L’Orkestre des Pas Perdus. Fierce, feisty, powerful, and French (well, OK, French Canadian), the group combines some of the rarer stars of the jazz world, such as the French horn, and my personal favorite, the tuba, with trombone, trumpet, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, drums, and an auxiliary (and electronic gizmo) percussionist. The group had that big brass-band sound and was fast, loud, and raw: just the way I like my women (and my jazz). It was in your face and intense, and rocking the way that only high-powered brass jazz can be. Canada might not be New Orleans, but this orchestra could give the best bands on Bourbon Street a run for their money.
The icing on the cake? A multi-phonic tuba solo. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
I’m taking Saturday night off, but I’ll be back on Sunday with reviews of the 78 RPM Big Band at the Big Tent, Eivor Palsdottir with Mikael Blak at the Lutheran Church, and Monophonics at the Big Tent.