53rd Pori Jazz Festival took place between 13-22 July 2018 this year. The concerts which drew in big crowds utilized Paalava (main stage) on the island called Kirjurinluoto. Mainstream jazz concerts took place on the Lokkilava stage.
We listened to the Terje Rypdal Conspiracy concert first on the 19th of July in Pori, which is one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe with its history that goes back to 1966. The musicians on the stage were Terje Rypdal (g), Palle Mikkelborg (tp), Rune Tylden (key), Endre Hareide Hallre (b) ve Pål Thowsen (d).
Guitarist Terje Rypdal is one of the most prominent and internationally acclaimed Norwegian jazz musicians with career expanding for five decades. His breakthrough was with The Vanguards but in the late 60’s this candid musician explored jazz music and soon ended up working with the likes of Jan Garbarek and George Russell. As a solo artist Rypdal has released most of his music with German label ECM. Last summer he celebrated his 70th birthday and his tribute album featured Bill Frisell, Nels Cline and Raoul Björkenheim just to mention a few. At Pori Jazz Rypdal will introduce his new Conspiracy band performing both his older music as well as new compositions. At Pori Jazz the band features a special guest as Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg joins them for a concert to be remembered.
The second concert we watched on the same stage was the “unforgettable” performance of Vijay Iyer. He mostly played his own compositions. The harmony and the way they utilized time were breathtaking. He did not show off with his virtuosity once. The musicians on the stage were Steve Lehman (as), Mark Shim (ts), Graham Haynes (cor, flgn, elec), Vijay Iyer (p, key), Stephan Crump (b), Jeremy Dutton (d).
Vijay Iyer may well be one of the most important jazz musicians at the moment. He’s received several awards and prizes for his critically acclaimed albums and played memorable concerts one after another. In 2015 Vijay Iyer performed at Pori Jazz with his trio and next July he will bring his renowned sextet, whose Far From Over album is widely considered to be the jazz album of 2017.
We were extremely excited to witness a historical moment the same day on the big stage. We listened to Burt Bacharach, the great composer of the legendary American Songbook. He performed some of the pieces and the orchestra performed the others. The songs, which were joyful to listen to, were rich in harmony, melody and orchestration. We consider ourselves as people who have listened to Gerswin playing.
Burt Bacharach, the illustrious composer behind countless hits from the 1950s to this day is the mastermind behind such pop classics as The Look of Love, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, (They Long To Be) Close To You, Anyone Who Had a Heart, What the World Needs Now Is Love and I Say a Little Prayer. Bacharach has composed songs for Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield and The Carpenters on the course of his career spanning several decades. His go-to lyricist and collaborator, Hal David, passed away in 2012. Bacharach, who will be celebrating his 90th birthday in May this year, is still actively touring the world with his immortal tunes. The living legend conducts his 11-piece orchestra – including three vocalists – from behind his grand piano. Make sure that you’ll have tissues at hand since it is a known fact that Bacharach will be having an emotional impact on his crowds.
We listened to R + R = NOW concert, which I couldn’t attend with my broken ankle in Istanbul, on the 20th of July in Pori because they had a special platform prepared for disabled people. The musicians on the stage were Terrace Martin (sax, vox, key), Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (tp), Taylor McFerrin (key, elec), Robert Glasper (key), Derrick Hodge (b), Justin Tyson (d).
Keyboardist-producer Robert Glasper was last seen at Pori Jazz back in 2011. He will now return to Pori with his new super band. As the social and political conversation in the United States has been quite heated lately, Glasper and his fellow musicians with to take a stand for things they feel strongly for – their full name is Reflect+Respond=NOW. The band features Terrace Martin, Christian Scott, Taylor McFerin, Derrick Hodge and Justin Tyson alongside Robert Glasper. Their unique sound is intriguing combination of various musical styles and genres and the musician’s combined CV includes collaborations with Quincy Jones, Kendrick Lamar, Common, Kanye West, Mos Def and Q-Tip just to mention a few.
I think this year is a first in the sense that Finland and other Nordic countries suffered such hot weather. We saw 37 degrees celsius written on a digital thermometer in a shopping mall and we could not believe our eyes. Therefore the festival participation was at an all time high due to the sunny weather. I was happy that I enjoyed the concerts despite my broken ankle.
I look forward to the 2019 concerts.