London celebrations

NN North Sea Jazz Festival 2022 – London Jazz News

North Sea Jazz Festival 2022

(Rotterdam Ahoy. July 8-10, 2022. Summary report by John Ferguson)

Charles Lloyd with Bill Frisell. All photos by John Ferguson

The 3-day NN North Sea Jazz Festival operates from a single location, originally in The Hague and since 2006 in Rotterdam’Ahoy, a convention center and multi-purpose indoor arena. With over 12 stages ranging from large venues for thousands of people to see the “big” stars (this year including Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter, HER, Alicia Keys), to intimate venues accommodating less than 200 people, schedules are kept so planning what to see is easy. The biggest problem for a music lover… even in his 20se visit… it remains to be decided which concerts to leave out, as clashes inevitably occur with the more than 150 ensembles playing over the 3 days. A nice problem to have, nonetheless.

The music actually started the day before the festival, with a ‘cool’ (both ways) rooftop performance by the American piano duo Taylor Eigsti (his 2021 Grammy-winning album “Tree Falls” is excellent) and singer Lisa Fisher. It was a good start to a long weekend.

The Festival proper launched a flyer on Friday featuring arguably the best singer in the world Lizz Wright – this time with his regular pianist Kenny Banks and supported by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. There was collective breathing from everyone at the start of the set, when this voice sang the opening lines of Neil Young’s “Old Man” and the quality didn’t stop from there. The lush orchestral tones added just the right amount of sweetness to what is already a voice like honey.

Lizz Wright

The joy of a festival is often the discovery of relatively unknown talent – ​​many album purchases have resulted from such ‘discoveries’ over the years. This year’s surprise package was a stunning young Dutch piano, trumpet and singer trio, with a noticeable ECM/Norwegian vibe, called Mudita. Two albums and if there is justice, they will become household names.


Day 2 started with the return to the festival from Daniel Lanois, featuring Jim Wilson on bass and with an announced “mystery guest” on drums. So it was wonderful to see the near-reunion of Black Dub (who played NSJ in 2011 and didn’t stay together very long), while none other than the fabulous Trixie Whitley join them on stage. She of course sang and played drums, so it was another amazing start to a great day of music.

Daniel Lanois & Jim Wilson, Trixie Whitley

After visiting some “mmm interesting, but not exceptional” acts, it was a welcome return from Tineke Postma at NSJ, since his set with Greg Osby in 2014 and before that a “supergroup” in 2009 with Geri Allen, Scott Colley and Terri Lyne Carrington. This time she presented a great quintet including Kris Davis and Ralph Alessi and it was great to see/hear. Edition Records have already announced that their new album has been recorded and is due out in early 2023, so watch out for that!

Kris Davis, Tineke Postma, Ralph Alessi

Saturday night and Sunday afternoon involved two of the young Brits who are raising the profile of British jazz. Saturday night’s Joe Armon-Jones set included singer Asheber and a saxophone duo James Mollison and Nubya Garcia. Nubya’s set on Sunday afternoon was a highlight for NSJ, repeating the success of her debut here in 2018 and her reappearance in 2019 with Maisha. His set here with Joe again, plus the bassist Daniel Casimir and fantastic drummer Sam Jones, raged.

Nubya Garcia

Sunday highlights included Japanese featured pianist Hiromi perform with a string quartet, led by an acclaimed classical violinist Thomas Gould. Hiromi captivated the entire auditorium with her dexterity at the piano and her ability to engage with everyone, using gestures and the occasional contortion, to great effect!

Some musicians justify the term “legend” and two worthy recipients from slightly different generations captivated everyone during their Sunday set. Charles Lloyd and his group The Marvels with THE guitar master Bill Friselle play with a ‘hot’ rhythm team from Greg Leisz, Ruben Rogers and Kendrick Scott. Charles’ playing on both saxophone and flute belies his 84 years and may he long continue to serve up wonderful music, with such great collaborators.

Alfa Misy

Last concert of this year’s festival by Alfa Mist was initially plagued by significant delays in arriving on site. Saxophonist/clarinetist Sam Rapleywho had presumably traveled separately, with the Nubya drummer Sam Jones, did a great job of sound checking everyone’s gear, as the crowd began to fill the room. The departure was delayed by about 25 minutes and it is clear that things had not gone well (especially this guitarist Jamie Leeming was ‘missing’!) Needless to say though, the professionals they obviously are revealed themselves very quickly. While for a dedicated Alfa fan, the absence of Jamie’s guitar and therefore of Kaya Thomas Diguethe wonderful voice at this concert was a disgrace, the drum star of Nathan ShinglerKaya’s solid bass playing and Sam and Alfa’s big solo made the concert a success and they earned applause from a very satisfied crowd.

North Sea Jazz dates prevent or inhibit attendance at other major summer jazz festivals (e.g. Swanage, Buxton and even Love Supreme & Montreal) each year, but 3 extra days of wonderful music with just one ticket for everything the above on one site, is simply an incomparable experience. 2023 dates are announced July 7-9

John Ferguson is part of the team SoundCellar club in Poole

LINK: NN North Sea Jazz Website

Interview with Jan-Willem Luyken from 2015