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Virgil Mihaiu

30 Nov 2023 10:23 AM | Virgil Mihaiu

Among the festivals I was able to attend in 2023, I note first of all Montenegro’s JAM (=Jazz Appreciation Month), organised by Maja Popovic throughout that country during April. Its highlight was the concert by the marvellous group TRIGON, founded in Chisinau (Eastern Moldova) in 1992, and which continues to be active ever since under the direction of viola-virtuoso Anatol Stefanet.

Last spring I participated, as an emcee, in the Jazz in Church Festival, organized in the premises of the Evangelical Church in Bucharest by Cristian Moraru. A revelation of this festival was the recital of a "Eurasian" duo, made up of graceful Japanese performer Mieko Miyazaki, on the traditional instrument koto, and French saxophonist Franck Wolf.

In June I was invited by Romania's Federation of Jewish Communities to participate in the 120th anniversary of Dadaism-coryphaeus Victor Brauner (b. Piatra Neamț 1903 - d. Paris 1966), which took place in the Baal Shem Tov Wooden Synagogue of Piatra Neamț. The main organiser was writer Emanuel Nadler, custodian of this Synagogue dating back to the Middle Ages. My contribution consisted in presenting CONSTRUCT, an artistic documentary film by Sorin Iliesiu about Marcel Iancu, close friend of Brauner and Tristan Tzara (the three of them launched the Dadaist movement in Zurich in 1916). The picture’s avant-garde-cum-free jazz soundtrack was conceived and performed by Andrei Tanasescu as a solo piano suite.

Other memorable events: the tenth edition of the excellent Jazz Festival in the Bran Mediaeval Castle, located in southern Transylvania/central Romania (with Lia Doru Trandafir, Paul Tutungiu, Alex Priscu as deserving managers); the impressive recitals given by Azerbaijan’s Rain Sultanov/soprano sax & Shahin Novrasli/piano in some Transylvanian locations; the Romanian tour of Triosence led by pianist Bernhard Schuler, a group nicknamed "the New Faces of German Jazz" (organiser: Ciprian Moga); the 32nd edition of the Festival managed by Johnny Bota at the Timisoara Philharmonic; the Retracing Bartok concert performed by John Surman, Mat Maneri, Lucian Ban & Brad Jones in Timisoara (European cultural capital in 2023); the masterful recital of American vibraphonist Eldad Tarmu - together with bassist Johnny Bota and Hungarian drummer Gyorgy Jeszenszky – at Cluj’s Sala Urania. It was an emotional reunion, after at the beginning of the century Eldad had been a teacher for five years in Timișoara at Romania’s first Jazz Faculty. Last but nost least, two enticing performances by the Duo Alex Harding/bar s & Lucian Ban/p & el-p, put on by Thomas Mendel in Ban’s home-city Cluj.

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