Cologne Jazz Week 2023, celebrating its third edition, offered a variety of performances across numerous venues in the city. With around 60 events ranging from mainstream concerts to more adventurous ones, the festival showcased a wide spectrum of jazz styles. This article captures the highlights and memorable performances from the final three days of the event.
Delving into Free Improvisation
Wednesday, August 16th (Day 5)
The Loft venue hosted a night of improvised music, featuring two groups: one from the Danish ILK Collective and the other from the German CJW Collective. The focus was on sound experimentation rather than melody or rhythm, with musicians like saxophonist Lotte Anker and tuba player Carl Ludwig Hübsch creating unique textures.
The Dojo set at Jaki, featuring Michiyo Yagi on kotos, Tamaya Honda on drums, and special guest bass player Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, offered a more intense experience. The set included rhythmic improvisations and atmospheric moments, culminating in a standing ovation from the audience.
A Tribute and Dynamic Performances
Thursday, August 17th (Day 6)
The day started with a concert paying tribute to the late trumpet player Udo Moll, featuring two large ensembles. The Simon Rummel Ensemble, an eclectic group, delivered a slightly subdued performance.
Following this, the TRAINING duo with special guest Ruth Goller put on a standout show at the Bumann & Sohn club. Their dynamic performance featured compositions that lent themselves well to group improvisation, winning over a large audience.
I AM, the duo of saxophonist Isaiah Collier and drummer Michael Shakwoaga Ode, also performed at a club venue. Their high-energy spiritual jazz was strongly influenced by Coltrane’s modal jazz period, keeping the pace at breakneck speed throughout.
Celebrating Wayne Shorter and a Powerful Finale
Friday, August 18th (Day 7)
The French group Nefertiti, along with German trumpeter Frederik Köster, performed as part of the NICA exchange program. Köster’s lively presence energized the rest of the group during the set.
Dave Douglas launched his new quintet at the festival, playing music from the recent Songs of Ascent CD. The compositions, inspired by Biblical Psalms, featured interwoven solos and duets from the quintet members, adding depth to the performance.
The final set of the festival was played by Headless Society with guest cellist Violeta Garcia from Argentina. This octet created a powerful, rhythmic wall of sound, leaving the audience fascinated as they anticipated how the performance would come to an end.