Young Jazz from Austria is in and seems to be on it’s way to greater things. At least, that is what it seems like after the success of the first edition of the KICK JAZZ festival in PORGY & BESS in Vienna. The club was filled to the brim on both days, the audience in an excellent mood and the applause loud and enthusiastic. And the international festival producers who were invited seemed to have added one or two names to their notebooks.
The Kick Jazz festival was cooperation between Austrian Music Export and Porgy & Bess. And the premiere made one thing very clear: the two day event was much more than just a simple performance exhibition. The six acts (David Helbock Trio, chuffDRONE, Kompost 3, Edi Nulz, Mario Rom´s Interzone and Namby Pamby Boy) that had been selected as representatives of the entire scene made a major statement and delivered impressive proof of something we here in Austria have known all along. Jazz in Austria is alive and in demand. The sound being cultivated in Austria is modern, fresh, innovative, diverse, open and exciting. And judging by the crowded audience, it is also appreciated.
POSITIVE FEEDBACK FROM ACROSS EUROPE
Music journalists, music promoters and festival agencies from across Europe had a chance to get a picture of what the young Austrian jazz scene has to offer. And their conclusion after the two day festival was positive across the board. According to Reiner Michalke, programm boss of the Stadtgarten in Köln: “One has to say that the quality of the bands at this festival was very high. Actually, everything was good and interesting.”
Edin Zubcevic from Jazzfestival Sarajevo was also impressed: “The nice thing about this festival was that we were presented with bands that are already off to a successful start. I personally discovered two bands that I want to book in the future.” Juhamatti Kauppinen from the Tampere Jazz Happening: “I have been to a lot of showcase festivals. And one things I can honestly say is that this was far and away the best. We have seen a lot of very good young bands with a fresh sound and diverse styles.”
The German journalist Stefan Hentz had a similar opinion, “I know a lot from Austria. CD’s from Austrian bands are constantly coming across my desk. But I was still surprised by the density. I think it’s great that there are so many young bands here with such a variety of sounds and such high quality.”
And it is true. The six acts performing at Kick Jazz couldn’t have been more different in their musical styles. The David Helbock Trio set the tone at the beginning with music ranging from that of Arnold Schönberg to their own compostions and interpretations of the Star Wars soundtrack. The quintet chuffDRONE won us over with their incredibly diverse and powerful performance that still allowed space for some atmospheric sound experiments. And the Viennese Jazz-Funk-Hip-Hop-Soul-Elektronic combo Kompost 3 were just as fabulous and laid-back as ever. Edi Nulz set off an incredible jazz-rock firework at the beginning of the second day. And Mario Rom’s Interzone kept up the heat with their free-form mix of traditional and jazz flavoured with elements of bebop, funk and swing. The honor of closing the festival went to Namby Pamby Boy. And, like the acts before them, this group were more than convincing with their unconventional mix of jazz, electronic and hiphop.
The end result was a positive experience, and not just because of the massive audience. Raphael Preuschl (David Helbock Trio) sees the festival as “a great possibility to meet promoters from other countries.” Edi Nulz agrees: “It is just great that we had such a chance practically served up on a silver platter.”
For Philip Nykrin (Namby Pamby Boy) it was important that at this festival they had a chance to make contacts with people who, in a musical sense, were really interested in just the type of things they are doing. Martin Eberle (Kompost3) was also happy “that I could just hang out with all of my colleagues for two days, which doesn’t happen very often. I could see all of the bands that I always wanted to hear, or haven’t heard in a while. That was really fun.”
David Helbock was impressed by what he witnessed, “what support the scene is getting right now, both amongst themselves and from other people.” Judith Schwarz (chuffDRONE) also noticed the solidarity in the scene. Everyone knows each other and has played in projects together. And that is why there isn’t really a sense of competition: “We realise, I think, that this festival is a great chance for us all.”
In summary, the first edition of the Kick Jazz festival can be viewed as a great success. One that is certain to give the young jazz scene here a boost. The performing acts all did a stellar job and the international audience was impressed. The energetic musical output Austria has to offer is sure to get around.
Michael Ternai (adapted from the German by Dave Dempsey)