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Tomaž Grom Interview Sound (Dis)obedience Festival

Tomaž Grom Interview Sound (Dis)obedience Festival

Tomaž Grom Interview

Sound (Dis)obedience Festival

19

Julio, 2024

By: Bega Villalobos

Photo: Marcandrea

Tomaž Grom is a Slovenian double bass player and one of the key figures in the remarkable Ljubljana music scene. He is the founder and artistic director of Zavod Sploh (S-P-L-O-H. Sound, Performing, Listening, Observing, Hearing) an associaton dedicated to the production of music and performing arts as well as to education and publishing in the field. He curates music festival Sound (Dis)obedience.

On 28 th March, 2024. Liubliana, Eslovenia. Sound (Dis)obedience Festival.

 

In&OutJazz Thank you for the interview Tomaz. It is a great pleasure to be here in Liubliana. The first question is how was the festival born and what was the concept of the festival?

Tomaž Grom In the second half of the nineties I started to organize concerts on Metelkova with Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec. There was no scene for so-called experimental or better to say improvised music, maybe just some individual musicians existed. When coming back from studies in Austria and playing around Europe there were very few concerts. I was interested in so I started to organize a concert serie Con/fine aperto with two of my friends Luka Zagoričnik and Primož Čučnik. We payed the musicians from our own pockets. I had the money from making music for national theatres.

And then came Špela Trošt, a producer and also my partner.

She applied for funds on the base of the program we already made. She applied through Zavod Sploh (Sound, Performing, Listening, Observing, Hearing) which I established in 1999.

We got some funds and started to do regular concert series and workshops.

With about a decade of regular events I wished for a condensed meeting of international musicians, something like a festival.

In 2011 we got some non-expected money from the Ministry of Culture (they had some rest of the money they offered to us) and that is how Sound (Dis)obedience was born in 2012.

We got funds without asking for funds. This year is the 13th edition.

Every year I say it’s the last one but then it goes on … And the concept is … no concept. The concept is my intuition. I like to invite different generations, different approaches to music making, different genders. Musicians with a lot of experience and musicians with very little experience. I like to mix international musicians with Slovenian musicians. Every year there is also a workshop and Every year I invite different international musicians to run the workshop which is open to everyone. Workshop is very important.

When the festival finishes, I start to think about the next one. I don't sit down and I don't have a concept really. I am a musician myself, so I know a lot of international musicians and music scenes. I just by feeling, slowly, kind of build up a program for the next edition.

In&OutJazz Would you say in first person that the festival selection is between free improvisation and free jazz? What would you say about this?

Tomaž Grom You know, I don't like so much to put this in words, in kind of frames. I like to find people which are kind of somewhere in between genres and which play their own music. I'm very interested also in musicians themselves. Not only in their music. What is their motor? Why do they go from stage to stage?  They spend their lives on a scene with very little money. Some even have no home, the stage is their home. I like to meet these very special people. They inspire me. I like to listen to their music, to reasons and backgrounds for their music.

Improvised and composed music in played on the festival. But the situation is improvised in any case.

Sometimes I invite musicians without really knowing their music. I like surprises for me as well even though it can be risky 🙂

I like musicians which take the acoustic space, the audience, the situation, the moment as part of their instrument.

In&OutJazz How do you select the project? With intuition you say, but what else?

Tomaž Grom It's very difficult to say. More or less, I like to plan different kind of approaches to music making. When I select one, then I search and think about different approach and I select the other one. And then I try to think on, “aha, so I have this and this and what could also be different approach”. And as I said in the beginning, different generations are important. Some people with a lot of experience. For example, yesterday, Jan Roder and Michael Griener, they play for 32 years together. And the day before, trio with Aurelius Užameckis, Luka Zabric and Margaux Oswald, they are very young and they search for their music. All this is important for me to show on the festival. I can't say much more than that…

Tomaž Grom If it's okay, just one more thing I would like to add. This is a small festival and I like to keep it like this.

In&OutJazz Why?

Tomaž Grom Because I like that the audience is close to the musicians, that we are all in the same room. No stage or better to say no barrier between the public and the audience.

In&OutJazz In the same room?

Tomaž Grom Yeah, in the same room and in the same sound for the musicians and the audience. Musicians generally like to be close to the public.

But, all the music does not fit in this context. And, not all the music fits on big stages with big amplification either. And when amplification exceeds certain level, instruments sound very different. They become different instruments. It can be quite difficult and a very non-inspirating situation.

Our venue sounds good with acoustic or slightly amplified music. Matter 100 were too loud for this venue. Their music needs some more power, so, I blame myself for not the best sound in Španski borci (venue) for their music.

I have to say that we at Sploh are very spoiled. Nobody is asking us how many people are coming to our concerts. I can program whatever I want. No need for the “big names”. We treat all the musicians the same. We also pay all the musicians the same. This is a big privilege, a luxury. No financiers are demanding more public. I would like to emphasize that. Some other programmers have to have certain amount of audience coming. They partly depend on ticket sales. And then it becomes very tricky, you can't just do what you want.

In&OutJazz I understand. And how is the evolution of the festival?

Tomaž Grom I can speak more about the public in this sense, not about the music. Music is more or less always there. It is different with the audience. First concert series had very little audience. It was similar with the festival. With regular and constant events audience was slowly growing. As I already said, we don't have tradition in freely improvised music in Slovenia like in London, Berlin, or several Austrian towns with long festival traditions. We do have a Jazz festival with the longest tradition in Europe and we have several festivals like Druga Godba, Sajeta, Jazz Cerkno … We don’t have books or developed language to speak about experimental and freely improvised music. We don’t have a span of different generations of musicians playing on the same stage like for example in England. We have some individuals, for example Zlatko Kaučič, a drummer and educator in his seventies. Here I have to say that Zlatko is an example that proves the fact that a town/a region actually needs just one (the right one) influencer who can build the whole music community.

So, the audience has to grow with the scene. I would say that we have a little pool of audience, slowly growing. Nowadays I see new faces, young faces. Young people coming to our concerts, together with the “regular” public, that is important. Festival Konfrontationen in Nickelsdorf offers reduced ticket price for audience under 30 I believe and festival Sajeta in Tolmin offers free ticket for audience above 55. Getting new public and keeping the “old” is quite a task.

In&OutJazz How do you combine your work as founder and artistic director of Zavod Sploh?

Tomaž Grom I'm a founder and artistic director of Zavod Sploh, but firstly I'm a musician. I try to separate those two tracks but in the same time I know I am sitting in two chairs. I used to program majority of the events in the frame of Sploh. Nowadays we have several different people programing our concert and performance series. For some years I only program Sound (Dis)obedience. And sometimes it's still difficult. I struggle sitting on those two chairs.  I invite musicians, I invite curators, so, I offer work to just a few people … It is a political position. I have to mention that I never program myself on the festival, I never play when I program …

In&OutJazz Okay, okay.  But why? Why?

Tomaž Grom There are at least three reasons. Firstly, it's much more “hygienic” if I don't play because if I play then I pay myself. Secondly, I remember very well one of Ljubljana venues Jazz Club Gajo. It was programed by a drummer, who played majority of the gigs himself. He would invite different musicians to play but he would much too often sit in …

The third reason it the fact that I am a technician on the festival. I communicate and prepare the technical needs and also connect the needed. I welcome the public, I am the sound technician and I also record all the concerts … These   reasons are more than enough to explain why I don’t play on a festival that I curate …

In&OutJazz And what about the name of the festival?

Tomaž Grom Aha, well, this is... Neposlušno in Slovenian means it reminds on the world neposlušljivo which means something that is not possible to listen to. Neposlušno means disobedient. Non listenable and disobedient. I think it suites the music we are promoting. And it creates kind of contra ...

In&OutJazz Contra-culture.

Tomaž Grom I think contra is sometimes good to practice. In some way this music practice can also be disobedient. And it is also relatively often not so easy to listen to it J. It is definitely often not very pleasant.

In&OutJazz It's not easy.

Tomaž Grom You need to involve yourself. You need to...  To put some energy, interest into it and you have to let it come to you.  We don’t always have to strive for easy and pleasant things.

Written by Bega Villalobos

Mayo 19, 2024

Portalegre Jazz Festival, Portugal 2024

Portalegre Jazz Festival, Portugal 2024

Portalegre Jazz Festival

Portalegre, Portugal 2024

20

Junio, 2024

Pedro Carneiro, Mario Laginha, Pedro Burmester, Mario Costa, Gileno Santana, Benoit Delbecq, Bruno Chevillon, Liba Villavechia, Luis Vicente, Vasco Trilla, John Edwards, Sophie Agnel, John Edwards, Steve Noble, Bernardo Tinoco, Joao Almeida, Joao Fragoso, Joao Sousa

Texto: Bega Villalobos

Fotografía: CAEP

El Centro de Artes Escénicas de Portalegre (CAEP) acoge por decimocuarta vez el festival internacional de jazz y música improvisada (del 18 al 20 de abril, 2024). Un festival con casi dos décadas de historia y el crédito de la programación de Pedro Costa (Clean Feed Records). Portalegre, situado en la región del Alto Alentejo en Portugal, es una ciudad auténtica, que se ha conservado casi inalterada en el tiempo, con un centro histórico de calles adoquinadas y antiguas murallas dominadas por el castillo. La ciudad cuenta con un rico patrimonio histórico, una rica tradición artesanal y un entorno natural impresionante.

 

 

 

El festival comienza en el auditorio del Museo de los Tapices, un edificio histórico restaurado que representa una parte importante del patrimonio artístico y cultural. Comienza con el recital en solitario de Pedro Carneiro, aclamado internacionalmente como uno de los percusionistas solistas más importantes del mundo a la marimba, compositor y director de orquesta. Es maestro de la invención sonora con la marimba ampliada (con más tubos de resonancia) y accesorios nuevos que él mismo ha fabricado y utiliza, aumentando así las posibilidades tímbricas y texturales del instrumento.  Ha sido una actuación experimental e improvisada de gran pasión, energía explosiva y espontaneidad.

Para seguir en el auditorio del CAEP (Centro de Artes Escénicas de Portalegre) con el Concierto para Dos Pianos de Mario Laginha y Pedro Brumester. Concierto homenaje en memoria del muy querido pianista portugués Bernardo Sassetti, un compositor refinado e inquieto que transforma el patrimonio de Bach a Mompou, de Chopin a Bill Evans en imágenes sonoras únicas. El repertorio han sido piezas de Bernardo Sassetti, Astor Piazzola, Maurice Ravel, etc.

El batería y percusionista portugués Mario Costa lleva más de diez años haciéndose un más que merecido hueco en el universo del jazz europeo contemporáneo. Como líder del cuarteto presenta el premiado álbum Chromosome (Clean Feed, 2023). Mario Costa, batería, electrónica y composición. Gileno Santana, trompeta. Benoit Delbecq, piano, sintetizador y electrónica. Bruno Chevillon, al contrabajo. Un trabajo innovador plagado de momentos brillantes. Las composiciones de Mario Costa son una mezcla de estructuras melódicas, armónicas y rítmicas sofisticadas pensadas para cada integrante del cuarteto, proporcionando un espacio rico para la improvisación en la que cada músico contribuye con su voz única, de espíritu innovador, amplitud creativa y versatilidad, y de ritmos complejos y elegantes construcciones rítmicas poco ortodoxas. El francés Benoit Delbecq, piano, sintetizador y electrónica, con un conocimiento profundo de la música clásica contemporánea, desarrolla sus ideas partiendo de conceptos rítmicos cortos que se van entrelazando a veces de manera circular y repetitiva. De música contemporánea elaborada, sofisticada, profundidad en la búsqueda de formas, rigor pulsante, expresivo, e interesante exploración electrónica. Líneas melódicas elegantes, armonías libres con derroche de texturas y contrastes. Bruno Chevillon, melódico y enérgico con una amplia variedad de recursos creativos. El versátil y premiado trompetista brasileño residente en Portugal Gileno Santana sustituyendo al trompetista vietnamita Cuong Vu. De tono cálido, interpretación vibrante, enérgica y expresiva. El cuarteto se maneja con una interacción fluida y dinámica, en una buena simbiosis entre composición, improvisación, espacio y caos.

Siguiendo con Liba Villavechia Trío & Luis Vicente (Liba Villavechia, Vasco Trilla, John Edwards y Luis Vicente). Liba Villavechia es saxofonista alto barcelonés con una vasta y variada experiencia. En 2021 funda Liba Villavechia Trio, compuesto por el percusionista Vasco Trilla y el contrabajista Alex Reviriego. Acaban de publicar su nuevo álbum Muracik con Clean Feed Records junto al trompetista portugués invitado Luis Vicente. Para este concierto se une el contrabajista británico John Edwards. John Edwards tiene una increíble capacidad para generar patrones rítmicos complejos en continuo cambio utilizando tanto el slap bass, el arco, así como técnicas extendidas que agregan una capa de profundidad sonora y aportan una dimensión adicional contundente, innovadora, llena de contrastes. Vasco Trilla a los tambores y percusión aporta un discurso flexible, adaptable, coherente lleno de momentos sorpresivos brillantes de ritmo frenético con los tambores. El trompetista portugués enmarcado en el free jazz Luis Vicente presenta un ataque directo, rápido, enérgico y seguro de extensas líneas de improvisación e intensidades rítmicas. Liba Villavechia, abanderado de la libertad expresiva y apoyado por la voluntad de no contar con ningún instrumento armónico, desarrolla improvisaciones a partir de estructuras definidas por patrones cortos como base melódica que se construyen y deconstruyen para generar nuevas variaciones. Sensación de amplitud y expansión con la utilizando generosos intervalos, el uso del slap, variaciones rítmicas que proporcionan una base pulsante e impulsa la música hacia adelante manteniendo al público enganchado/embaucado. Un discurso en el que se funde el contenido con el continente, lo literal con lo figurado, una abstracción compleja del lenguaje con dominio, creatividad y seguridad aplastante. La música como expresión del músico. Música intuitiva, incisiva, tan fluida como profunda.

Sophie Agnel TRIO, John Edwards, Steve Noble. Prodigioso trío de largo recorrido, formado por la pianista Sophie Agnel, integrante de la orquesta de jazz de Francia, reconocida por su habilidad única, poco convencional e innovadora al piano preparado y el uso de técnicas extendidas, y los británicos John Edwards y Steve Noble. Con más de una década tocando juntos, el trío realiza un set de música improvisada realmente sobresaliente en cuanto a la explotación de posibilidades y contrastes tímbricos y al desarrollo de una narrativa meticulosa, elaborada y sofisticada alejada del encasillamiento en la armonía. La profundidad, imaginación, contundencia y grandiosidad en la utilización de técnicas extendidas (golpes percutivos, uso del slap bass, utilización del arco) de John Edwards generando patrones armónicos complejos, expresivos y variados que redefine las posibilidades del contrabajo, se ubica en perfecta complicidad con la creativa, innovadora y comunicativa de la pianista francesa Sophie Agnel, así como con los patrones rítmicos precisos, variados e impredecibles de enfoque vanguardista del baterista británico Steve Noble que van desde texturas minimalistas hasta ritmos frenéticos.

El festival se cierra con el concierto en el escenario del Café CAEP con Garfo. Garfo fue el grupo revelación y Mejor álbum de jazz (Premios Play, 2021) en Portugal. Formado por jóvenes improvisadores liderados por el contundente saxofonista tenor Bernardo Tinoco, junto con el precisión y creativo trompetista Joao Almeida, Joao Fragoso al contrabajo y la versatilidad y energía de  Joao Sousa a la batería. Un grupo perteneciente a la escena musical creativa de vanguardia que se presenta como sólido después de su segundo álbum editado por Clean Feed Records. De fluidez y claridad expansiva con un enfoque en la improvisación. Las composiciones originales (temas de sus dos discos) son de estructuras complejas definidas y bien ejecutadas que impulsan a la improvisación libre con un interesante desarrollo estructural de gran creatividad en texturas, ritmos y timbres.

Written by Bega Villalobos

Junio 20, 2024

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