If we had to describe the Austrian jazz and global music scene in a word, we’d have to go with “rich, vibrant, kaleidoscopic…” Okay: it’s impossible to describe it in a single word, because there’s no single ‘Austrian sound’: it’s a prismatic collection of sounds, coming from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds and powered by its protagonists’ drive to innovate and reinvent.
An overview of the entire Austrian jazz and global scene would fill pages (although we did give it a shot a little while back, in our article for International Jazz Day) – and it still wouldn’t cover all the bases. That’s why we asked for help from some of the people who know Austrian music best: the promoters from two Vienna institutions – the renowned club Porgy and Bess and the global festival Salam Orient – as well as producers from the radio network Ö1; the radio show “Spielräume”, focusing on Austrian music, is a major tastemaker and a platform that helps domestic artists onto the international stage. The acts they chose include several that have already made a name for themselves beyond the borders of the Alpine Republic, but also some who are still insider tips.
From Lunz to Kurdistan – and beyond
Any current listing of jazz and global music from Austria would be incomplete without Julia Lacherstorfer: the violinist, singer, and composer is currently one of Austria’s most prominent global musicians. Raised on traditional Alpine folk music, she made it her mission to transmute it into contemporary sounds; projects like her band Almaare proof of just how successful she has been. And as if that weren’t enough: as co-artistic director of the Wellenklaenge Festival in Lunz am See, she has become an influential supporter of other Austrian musicians in recent years as well.
The group Kurdophone comes from a completely different – but no less fascinating – background: led by the Iran-born Omid Darvish, the band combines the traditional music of Kurdistan and European jazz into something truly new, a sound to fire the imagination.
A mixture of another kind is offered by the duo Soveles: with their contemporary renderings of traditional Yiddish revolutionary and resistance songs, the Jewish musician Isabel Frey and her musical partner Esther Wratschko prove that Yiddish music is capable of transcending its traditional boundaries.
…and that’s only a small sampling of the wealth of music on the playlist. For more information on the Austrian jazz and global music scene, see the articles below!
Translated & adapted from the German original by Philip Yaeger.