Luxembourg Jazz Meeting - Day 1

Friday 9 nov 2018, Abbaye de Neumünster – neimënster, Luxembourg

Text and pics: Storm Bakker

ProgJazz attended the Luxembourg Jazz Meeting 2018, with 12 showcase concerts in the 'Salle Robert Krieps' in the Centre Culturel de Rencontre Abbaye de Neumünster – neimënster. Friday 9 nov was the first evening, with 4 showcases in a row.

Krzysztof Kobylinsky

The first showcase is a Polish guest, pianist Krzysztof Kobylinsky. According to the festival guide, Kobylinsky releases “music albums based on jazz, world, neo-classic and electronic music (…) using modern electronics to explore a completely new artists area.” In Luxemburg he is limited the acoustic piano. Kobylinsky has his own, peculiar piano technique and original ideas. He is no newcomer on the scene. Kobylinsky who runs the PalmJazz Festival in Poland, is recognized by leading artists worldwide, like Randy Brecker, Joey Calderazzo, Bill Evans, Richard Galiano, Trilok Gurtu, Gary Husband, Bireli Lagrene, Branford Marsalis, Mike Stern, Miroslav Vitous and tons of others, mainly from the Polish scene. December 28, Krzysztof Kobylinsky gigs the Netherlands at the festival Stranger Than Paranoïa, ‘Polish Night’ in Paradox, Tilburg.

Greg Lamy Quartet

Second act was the Greg Lamy Quartet, again no newcomer on the scene. Greg Lamy (who lives in Luxembourg and Paris) is a very fine guitarist, well trained by Mick Goodrick (known from Gary Burton) at Berklee in the USA. He founded his quartet in 2003 with Emmanuel Duprey (piano), Sal La Rocca (bass) and Donald Kontomanou (drums). The current line-up was formed in 2007: Jean-Marc Robin (drums), Gautier Laurent (bass) and Johannes Müller (sax). The quartet already toured worldwide, besides Europe also USA, China, Japan and Brazil. Last year, the quartet released its fourth album on the Belgian lable Iglo Records. According to the rather pretentious linernotes in the small festival guide, the Greg Lamy Quartet is “an accomplished ensemble, inspiring and ambitious, harmonious and pluralistic (…) The group is characterized by an alchemical osmosis”. Well, although quiet good, the Greg Lamy Quartet does not meet these self-created expectations. This is mainly due to the leader himself, whose performance is kind of introverted, seemingly rehearsing every lick mentally before attempting it. By holding back, Lamy presents his music without the correct power of excitement it deserves. His members Jean-Marc Robin (drums), Gautier Laurent (bass) and Johannes Müller (sax) are of high standard and together, the four play harmonious and pluralistic indeed. Left handed Robin, (a look-alike of Dutch drummer Onno Witte) is the opposite of the band’s leader, being extravert and a joy to watch by the audience. With his energetic playing, Robin brought the band to a higher level, concluding an exciting drum vamp by suddenly falling backwards from his chair.

Jeff Herr Corporation

The third act was the Jeff Herr Corporation. Jeff Herr (born in 1980 in Luxemburg and an alumnus in Maastricht), is a serious guy. He already played with Tineke Postma, Magik Malik, Jef Neve and many others in Luxembourg and abroad, also as a support for Candy Dulfer, Joe Cocker, Lionel Richie, Pink, Selah Sue and Ten Years After. At the Luxembourg Jazz Meeting he presented his trio, containing of Laurent Payfert on double bass and the widely acclaimed saxophonist Maxime Bender. After a difficult beginning, due to a technical malfunction with the equipment of Payfert, the trio really got into their thing. Some of the compositions were based on simple progressions, like VI IV II VI, almost poppy-like, although here and there assimilated within odd meter patterns like 5 + 6 + 6 . The music is based on groove, as it says in the linernotes, “leading to a strong rhythmical impact”. Indeed: beautiful drumming by Herr (being the composer of all the works, not reading scores on stage), but automatically, the ‘strong rhythmical impact’ is synonymous with harmonical poverty, leading to a desire for keyboards now and then. The subtleties were done by Bender, on tenor saxophone, but soprano as well. He is a great player. On the other hand, we had the feeling that Payfert wasn’t really mastering the pieces.


The fourth and last act of this first evening of the Luxembourg Jazz meeting chose for something completely different. The band ‘Klein’, led by keyboardist Jerome Klein, plays in the dark with a lot of smoke. According to his website, “Klein works on an array of contrasts in a minimalist setting, slipping into a misty mood of melancholy and dark tones. In this almost pure setting, his music surprises with loud splinters of light, explosion of energy and even frenetic extasy when the musicians let their passion take over.” The band contains of Pol Belardi, now on vibes and bass-synthesizer in stead of bass, and drummer Niels Engel. The latter played with in-ears, because the music is doubled with prefab sequences from the labtop of Klein. Also some vocal samples occur, sounding like a female voice, but in fact it is the voice of Klein himself, pitched several octaves. With jazz it has little to do. The music of Klein is intellectual popmusic: energetic grooves, massive sounds and a lightshow, responsive to the volume of the music (also prepared in the computer). The moments of improvisation are brief. One improvised solo has to be mentioned here. In the last piece, which was an encore (against the will of the organization), Pol Belardi played a solo on vibraphone, playing extremely adventurous outside the chord changes, in a way that has rarely been shown. Afterwards, hanging out with the artists, we joked about the solo, as if it was all coincidence. This humor typifies the modesty of this talented multi-instrumentalist, as does everything about the Luxembourg jazz scene.