ACT Family Band - The Jubilee Concerts

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When Berlin audiences like what they hear, they have a spontaneous way of showing it – loud and strong. There was a wonderful moment, caught perfectly on this CD, at the end of “Missing A Page” by Emile Parisien and Joachim Kühn in the ACT 25th Anniversary concert, when the audience completely let go. To hear those whoops and cheers, the listener would never guess that these sounds emanate from people seated in neat rows of elegant ‘fauteuils’ in a classically-inspired 1820s theatre building. It is a roar from an eager crowd who clearly feel the compulsion to rise to the same level of devil-may-care raw energy as the saxophonist and the pianist. That moment, the bristling excitement in the hall seems to sum up the mood and spirit of a very special evening at the Konzerthaus on April 2nd 2017. The “ACT Family Band’s” Gala Concert was the last of three concerts on a day of celebration. And the date marked exactly twenty-five years – and one day – since the ACT label put out its very first release in 1992.

“We fly like birds of a feather,” runs the Sister Sledge lyric. And so the musicians did – they flocked to Berlin, thirty-four of them, from several countries of Europe, all artists who have found a nurturing home for their projects and talents on the ACT label. Several generations descended on the German capital. For example, Parisien and Kühn were born nearly forty years apart, but their mutual understanding, their common way of making music and generating excitement makes a detail like that an irrelevance. They all brought their combined energies to the event: a day of very fine concerts, a celebration of the passing of an important milestone, and a happy gathering for the label-as-family.

Parisien and Kühn are one of three trans-national duos on the album. While the French saxophonist and the German pianist brought high-voltage excitement, the two double basses of Lars Danielsson and Dieter Ilg channelled very different emotions. Two bassists playing together tends to be a recipe for pure joy, good humour, bonhomie and mischief, and that was exactly what these two master musicians offered. The third duo of Nils Landgren and Michael Wollny brought warmth, affection, and wistful poetry and beauty to Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” which opens the album. These three intimate conversations were just part of the story of an unforgettable day.

A quartet feature was led by violinist Adam Baldych, whose ski-ing accident just a few days before had not deterred him from attending this joyous gathering - he was supported by crutches to get on and off the stage. Then there was a special one-off formation of Nils Landgren’s Funk Unit in “Walk Tall”, the band propelled by Wolfgang Haffner’s crisp, in-the-pocket drumming.

One of the features of the ACT label is that founder Siggi Loch is a natural connector and helps the formation of new bands. A quintet around Nguyên Lê and the quartet led by Adam Baldych were created especially for the evening. Lars Danielsson’s “Suffering” has as its first soloists two ACT cornerstone artists who have helped to define the many-sided identity of the label: Nguyên Lê and Nils Landgren. Another more established quartet which ACT has helped into existence is the supergroup of Andreas Schaerer, Emile Parisien, Vincent Peirani, and Michael Wollny. “B&H” shows these four stars of European jazz, all similar age, keeping each other and the audience on their toes.

A celebration like this could run the risk of drifting into memory and nostalgia – this one didn’t. ACT has issued over 500 albums, so there is much to look back on with pride…but one moment found an inspired way to look to the future as well. The listener might wonder who the drummer and guitarist are, playing with such ease, flow and total assurance on “Dodge The Dodo.” They are Noa and Ruben Svensson, sons of the much-missed Esbjörn.

And then there is the finale. Having flown to Berlin “like birds of a feather,” the combined ensemble, led by Ida Sand, launched into “We Are Family”. As an expression of togetherness, of a shared joyful ethos it would be hard to beat. Mike Flynn, Editor of Jazzwise wrote in his review of the concert that the ACT label has “a smile on its face and a swagger in its step”. And where might the best evidence for that statement be found? It’s all there on this album.
Artikelnummer ACT9860
Streckkod 0614427986023
Utgivningsdatum 2017-06-30
Kategori Jazz
Skivbolag ACT
Enhet CD
Antal enheter 1
Artister ACT Family Band
Disk: 1
1 Send in the Clowns
2 Walk Tall
3 Savannah Samurai
4 Suffering
5 Missing a Page
6 Quo Vadis
7 B&H
8 Dodge the Dodo
9 We Are Family
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