Last night my friend G and myself arrived after a pleasant and uneventful trip (thanks to Netherlands Railways and KLM) at our hotel in The Hague and ambled over to the first night of The Hague Jazz Festival 2008. An impressive first night, we were able to check out Randy Brecker, Stanley Clarke and Nile Rodgers. The festival, set up in the World Forum Conference Center is immaculately organised, with thousands of happy punters ambling about, having drinkies, eating some lovely food and listening to some amazing music.
You really couldn’t wish for a more friendly party atmosphere, and there was none of the usual vomiting, violence or aggression that you associate with British festivals.
First gig of the evening for us was Randy Brecker: This was held in one of the downstairs rooms of the venue, with about 500 happy, relaxed fans grooving to the delicious funk that was oozing from the stage. Surrounded by four musicians half his age, Brecker guided his troupe through an excellent set filled with some superb solos by himself and his outstanding sax player Ada Rovatti that completey blew me (and the rest of the audience) away. Well done Brecker for featuring such a talent in his lineup, especially as her presence and her soli were so much more impressive than his.
Picture courtesy of AdaRovatti.com
Next up was Stan (the man) Clarke. A packed auditorium holding ca 1500 people his gig was both beautiful and boring. When playing with his outstanding band, his music spoke for itself without the need for any technical gimmickery. When he started to get the double bass out and dazzle the audience with his skills, it got quickly boring: while it might be interesting to see a man treating his double bass like rhythm- and melody instrument at the same time, it was quickly obvious that this was more technical showcasing than music. Shame.
Stanley Clarke before he got the double bass out.
Picture courtesy of Haags Uitburo on Flickr.
The last gig on the evening was Nile Rodger’s Chic. That, my friends, was so far the best gig of the year. Great voices, grooves that even made my scottish friend move his feet and outstanding musicianship (I would pay money to see that percussionist again: think the Muppet’s ‘animal’ antics with the looks of Siegfried and Roy) , topped by a collection of amazing songs: Good Times, The Freak, We are Family, I’m going up, Upside Down, I want your love, dance dance dance, my forbidden Lover, etc.
And now on to the second night…