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Edgefest Jumps for the Seventh Time


The 2003 version of Edgefest showed that it has reached maturity as a festival of the jazz avant garde, or “genre bending music,” as organizer Dave Lynch called it this year. Unfortunately, I was unable to hear the bending of the second day, Friday October 3.

I was able to enjoy all the offerings on Thursday, however. The first concert was at the Kerrytown Concert House with accordionist Guy Klucevsek and soprano player Phillip Johnston. This was a smooth start to the festival on the somewhat academic side: a lot of notated music filled with subtlety. Both artists contributed scores, and Johnston was the hotter soloist.

At 10 p.m. the Firefly was packed for Colorado-based Hamster Theater. This must have been the accordion night of the festival, but as played by co-leader Dave Willey the instrument assumed a less prominent role in this band. The genre bending concept was nicely illustrated by the Hamsters, who played with a lot of enthusiasm.


Top: Available Jelly performs at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.

Right: Jelly members Tobias Delius (tenor sax) Michael Moore (alto sax) and Eric Boeren (trumpet).

Around midnight saxman Trevor Watts from Hastings, U.K., leaped on stage with great spirit. For the next hour and a half he presented his eight piece band divided into small ensembles — except for the last number when everyone made it on stage for a preview of their Saturday concert. I preferred this building-block version of the band, which brought out Watts’ talents as a soprano and alto player to a larger extent. This was my first chance to hear this pioneer of the British avant garde, who bends towards joyous South African music.

I was also very impressed with the intense playing by Marcus Cummins on the same two instruments. The full Celebration Band played the first set at the former St. Nicholas Church on Saturday, but the steady beats made my interest drift after half an hour.
The most interesting band I saw this year was Available Jelly, which finished up the church segment of Edgefest 03. Altoist Michael Moore is a regular in these parts and he always delights with a marvelous tone and improvisational genius. Available Jelly includes some of the top players around Amsterdam, and I was particularly delighted to hear Wolter Wierbos’ spirited trombone. The repertoire of this group was a wonderful amalgam of music from a multitude of sources. Its strength is that it does not all seem contrived or forced, as it does with some groups who attempt this post-modern approach to music making.

Saturday night started off at the Kerrytown Concert House with the veteran Trio 3, which was so good I wished they had played another set, but that is rare at festivals. Oliver Lake was his usual powerful self on alto sax and the rhythm section easily beat out the competition this year. Reggie Workman’s bass playing lifted many of us out of our seats and Andrew Cyrille’s drumming was sensitive and dynamic.

In all, this year’s Edgefest had a wonderful variety of high quality music. And since all concerts were well attended, what else could one wish for?

Right: Trevor Watts , peforming with Marcus Cummins and Rob & Amy Leake, at the Firefly Club

photographs by Lars Bjorn



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