Review: Jazz Re:Found (Turin, Italy – 7th to 11h December 2016)

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Today, black music is warmth, experimentation, crossbreeding, avant-garde, tradition, and rhythm. Turin’s Jazz Re:Found festival explores these definitions, with a curious and forward thinking vision on music, honouring great names of the past while looking at the most current scenes with a sharp eye and sensitive ear. Spread across seven locations, the festival brought to the city’s dancefloors a rich line-up, representing all genres from hip hop to acid jazz, to soul to Detroit techno.

The festival kicked off on Wednesday 7th, with the British duo, Yussef Kamaal, bringing on stage their very own interpretation of jazz as a perfect blend of UK jungle and grime, with reminiscences of 70s funk-jazz and psychedelia; an hour-long thrilling performance that felt more like a continuous groove than just a concert. Next, followed the performance of hip-hop legend, Grandmaster Flash, introduced by Italian rapper, Ensi. The DJ skillfully swung from hip-hop classics to major contemporary hits, playing only The Message from his personal repertoire. A definitely entertaining act, although not very interesting music-wise.

The awaited act of the Manchester trio, Gogo Penguin, was cancelled the following day, with only three hours’ notice, due to a sudden hospitalisation of pianist Chris Illingworth. It was the second sad announcement for the festival, after the cancellation of the De La Soul‘s show, scheduled on Friday, December 10th. Luckily the gloomy mood was warmed up by the second headliner of the evening, DJ and producer at Ninja Tune, Mr. Scruff, whose four-hour-long, 100% vinyl set made the audience jump to hip-hop, soul, jazz and world music for the rest of the night.

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Friday night started off with the energetic act by Italian rap group, Colle Der Fomento, followed by the DJ set of Gilles Peterson, who played two hours of pure musical bliss with his finest selections of music. Swinging from John Coltrane to UK Jungle, from Brazilian sambas to dub and acid jazz, the British tastemaker engaged the audience in a smooth musical journey across the globe. Afterwards, Chicago DJ Sadar Bahar kept the atmosphere light with his perfect blend of funk, disco and deep house for a couple of hours, before diving in the highly rhythmical, African-rooted music of DJ Khalab and Clap! Clap!

The best was reserved for the last day, starting with the live act of James Holden. Set at 7 PM in a small, cosy space, it was clear from the beginning that this would be no usual show of the British techno shaman. The mesmerising sounds of his synths, accompanied by live drums, percussions and winds, turned the performance into an introspective odyssey that left everyone astounded. Two hours later, the godfather of Afrobeat, Tony Allen, played a great concert with his band; unfortunately in an overcrowded room that was way too small to move or see anything.

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However, not as many people showed up a few hours late to the closing night in the rather spacious Teatro della Concordia, where Underground Resistance definitely raised the bar of live electronic music performance. The Detroit collective combined techno’s powerful sounds with live improvisation, wonderful saxophone solos and experimentation in a truly memorable show. Ultimately, the sets of Joe Claussell and Japanese house producer Soichi Terada ended the night with a bang.

All in all, the border-breaking vision on music and lots of good vibes are the key elements that make Jazz Re:Found a great festival to mark off on your calendar.

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