There’s an Oscar winner’s air about the Pantheon Theatre in Bonn Beuel tonight. A hall packed with small tables around which sit excited groups of people in an air of expectancy. The lights go down, and the voter’s choices from this year’s JazzTube (Klezmer Tunes, jentgens6tett and Mary & The Poppins) are about to get their chance to shine…
It’s been by far the most ambitious Bonn Jazztube to date. An open-air kick-off concert started the season at Stadtgarten in August, leading to five consecutive Fridays spent entertaining passers-by on the Bonn Underground during which listeners could pick their favourites to appear in a special concert at Bonn’s Pantheon Theatre. Which is where we are tonight. So how will the bands fare without the rumble of trains and luggage case wheels in the background? Thomas Kimmerle and Stadtwerk Bonn are your hosts…
Onstage is Thomas Kimmerle, Jazztube founder and organizer. Mr Kimmerle has the grin on his face of a man who is very happy with his ‘offsprings’ development, as well he might be. Sunday’s concert will kick off with this year’s Winner of the New German Jazz Prize Mannheim 2017, Tamara Lukasheva, a lady who in 2014 was herself an entrant of Jazztube. Bonn has become a popular place for young talent to cut it’s teeth and Jazztube has become a great local showplace.
The three band’s onstage this evening really couldn’t be more different, Comparisons are impossible, which is good news for me; I can just sit back and enjoy the music (oh, and take an occasional picture too – a pleasure in such a stylish venue). The New Pantheon has been open since last November since the demise of the old Pantheon Theatre on Bundeskanzlerplatz. It is still a work in progress but seats around 450 people and it looks like every one of those seats is taken when the show begins.
The Klezmer Tunes, as promised on their website, take the audience on a musical journey around the world, through Poland and America to Australia. Dimitri Schlenker with his clarinet and violinist Igor Mazritsky tend to hold the spotlight, but it’s an excellent band effort that is the secret of their success, their classical training giving the traditional Klezmer style a distinctive modern twist that makes a Jazz band with a difference. I suspect a full evening of these talented guys would be a very informative as well as entertaining one. Certainly worth visiting when they are next in town.
Second band up, jentgens6tett are very much what I would expect from a Jazz Band. Drums, sax, piano, double bass, trumpet and trombone. It suggests the band will be what it says on the tin so to speak and indeed they are just that. A mix of own compositions and standards keeps the audience on it’s toes and I’m pleased to see a female trombonist (Janika Löttgen) and double bassist (Marina Opitz). Are there many female double bass/trombonists out there? When it comes to Jazz music I’m still learning, but I haven’t seen too many and I know that Janika Löttgen’s own quartet, that includes today’s pianist and bassist, are due to play at this year’s Leverkusener Jazz Festival. It’s fair to say then that this band is a class act.
Male trumpet players never seem to have been in short supply, but I remember enjoying Navid Rezaeian‘s playing at Bonn Hauptbahnhof and he didn’t disappoint here on the bigger stage either. Similarly there seem to be plenty of tenor saxophonists around but Jakob Jentgens has a sweet sound. A good description of the sextet as a whole in fact, complemented excellently by drummer Michael Knippschild.
Last onstage this evening was Mary Poppins. Well, to be accurate, Mary & the Poppins. Marie Pack shares the initials of the famous Walt Disney Nanny but she isn’t always as cheerful as her Hollywood namesake. You won’t find ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ in the set this evening.
This particular Mary is more inclined towards a ‘Feed the Birds’ kind of melancholy as shown in her most moving number: ‘Fehl am Platz’ is, says Mary, the song she is most often asked to sing. It tells of a fear – that of being old and not being noticed by anyone anymore. Being forgotten in one’s old lifetime. It’s a number that holds four hundred and fifty people spellbound tonight.
It’s not all sadness and melancholy though. I didn’t manage to grab a CD at the show but I remember a lyric boldly stating “I shaved your cat” and an acapella song (joined by Lilia Kirkow and Flutist Julia Kriegmann) warning “Don’t you touch that ass! Didn’t your mother tell you how to treat a girl?!” I’m really not sure if all this is strictly Jazz, but I don’t care!
I loved the set – full of emotion, surprises and a quirky style that makes Mary & the Poppins the most unique group of the evening and if I had to pick a winner… but come on, Klezmer, pure instrumental Jazz and a quirky Jazz/Pop vocalist? You can enjoy ice cream, chocolate and good wine. All are different but all make life worth living. Rather like the yearly Jazztube.
Big thanks then for an enjoyable Jazz journey in 2018 to Stadtwerke Bonn and particularly Thomas Kimmerle. Your hard work has not been in vain, The local emerging Jazz scene has been given a super shop window. Roll on 2018!