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Moers Jazz Festival

Review of 4-day festival in Germany on May 21-24, 2010

Tyshawn Sorey

For a spring weekend each year, the celebrated, artistically left-leaning Moers Jazz Festival unfolds in an epic-sized circus tent, in one corner of a park which is otherwise taken over by a Woodstock-esque crush of tent campers and shambling rows of vendors on the same weekend. It has been thus for nearly four decades, going back to the hale ’70s, a period when avant-garde American artists were hosted, toasted and sometimes recorded on the Moers Music record label.

Fast forward to the last five years, and next generation artistic director Reiner Michalke has done sturdy work in bringing a new vitality and international ear back to the festival. This May’s festival feast, a healthy, diversified flow of about twenty shows in four days, and with sideline features such as the all-improv “morning sessions” and “concerts in the dark” – featured non-mainstream guitarists (Terje Rypdal, two shows from Bill Frisell, Arto Lindsay, Fred Frith) and an inspired, illuminating focus on women in jazz, with plenty of other diversions in the avant-circus mix.

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