Elbjazz 2010

Hamburg is one of the truly exciting cities in the world!  Or which other city organizes a two-day (and night) jazz festival with 80 concerts on 15 stages located on and around the docks of its industrial port?  Not many, I bet — but what a cool idea!

Anyhow, I’m just back home from the second day of Elbjazz — it’s 3 in the morning, and I had such a thrill of listening, grooving and (casually) shooting, that I can’t go to bed quite yet.  So I’m looking through the images and reliving the concerts once more.

Since several concerts were running simultaneously, I only managed to see about ten bands, so here are my impressions from “my” Elbjazz 2010.  Enjoy!  (Click on the images for larger versions)

The first concert I saw was Anke Helfrich and her trio.  Here are Henning Sieverts (bass) and Dejan Terzic (drums) doing their thing…

What followed was absolutely amazing: Rafael Cortés played an hour of flamenco and the first reaction of the audience was: “What does this have to do with jazz?”.  But when the hour was over, and I swear didn’t feel any longer than 5 minutes, there was a really long standing ovation for the musical fire that Cortés, his band and the surprise guest, dancer Rafaela Escoz, had brought to the small stage.  Great version of Chick Corea’s Spain, BTW.

After a short pause the stage was free for Bobo Stenson and his trio.  We were treated to really fine Scandinavian jazz, spiced up by the very expressive bassist Anders Jormin and the sound-experimenter-drummer Jon Fält.

The first concert I saw on Saturday was Woflgang Schlüter’s quartet.  It was quite amazing to see the old and half-blind veteran playing with three very young musicians.  Here are two images of Boris Netsvetaev and Kai Bussenius, who sat very strategically right in front of the cool Elbjazz posters.

I then went to see the Studnitzky trio, but their concert was postponed to a later time, and I was lucky enough to squeeze in and see Lisa Bassenge and her band warming up.

I heard three songs, snapped a few shots and took a boat to the south Elbe side,

where two stages were set up at the Blohm + Voss ship-building yards.  Normally you cannot get in there, not even without a camera, so even without good music it was quite interesting to look around.  But the music was definitely good!

There I caught the last two songs of Deodato and Hamburg Project.  The audience did not want to let them go and applauded to no end, but after one encore the stage had to be rebuild for Jazul.  Jazul jazzed, funked and souled during the amazing Hamburg blue hour and closed with two pieces that brought the entire audience up on their feet dancing.

On the way back to the north river side I came past the main Blohm + Voss stage, where the last concert had just finished and DJ Supergid was doing his thing.

At this point it was after midnight and getting cold outside, but the night was still young and there was more music to be heard and enjoyed.  The line for seeing Bibi Tanga was quite long, but I was lucky enough to get in.  Wow!  Red, red, red wine, you make me feel so fine… Definitely not the kind of music to put you to bed, if you know what I mean…

Elbjazz 2010 was a very fine experience and the festival’s concept seems perfectly tailored to Hamburg.  I would have wanted to see more concerts, but with so many stages and simultaneous concerts more was not possible.  Maybe limiting the number of stages to 5 or 8 and making the festival run for two more days would relieve the problem somewhat…  Oh, and one more suggestion.  The Kehrwieder hall is not very large and the tables and chairs inside are laid out quite generously, so for the 100 or so people who had seats it was very comfortable and enjoyable.  But there were long lines of people outside, who wanted to get in but were not allowed to.  These people waited for over an hour  before each concert and still did not get in because virtually noone was leaving and freeing up a seat after any given concert.  With a bit of good will all of those enthusiasts could have been accommodated.  OK, not all of them would have had seats, but no seat is still much better than no groove.

Anyhow, this was the first year for the festival and I’m sure next year all these small problems will be ironed out.  So  where do I get tickets for Elbjazz 2011?  😉

PS: All images above were taken with a Nikon D90, Tokina 11-16/2.8, Nikon 35/1.8 and Nikon 16-85/4-5.6 VR, almost exclusively at ISO 3200 and rarely at shutter speeds faster than 1/30″.  More like 1/8″.  But I’m happy to report that the camera had no trouble focusing even at these extreme conditions.