Event Review: Jazz:Re:Found Festival (Turin, Italy; 29th November to 3rd December 2017)

Embraced by the Alps Mountains in the North-western area of Italy, Turin is a city marked by its aristocratic past and industrial history. This contrast best represents the city’s multiple facets: richness and poverty, innovation and tradition, history and modernity all living together in one place. This blend and mix of identities makes it the best playground for a festival like Jazz Re:Found, which every year intends to interpret the facets of ”black music” in new and interesting ways, looking at what it’s been, what it has become and where its legacy is leading to.

The past editions featured names like Snarky PuppyMoodymann, Grandmaster Flash, GoGo Penguin, and many more. To celebrate its 10th-year anniversary this year, the festival arranged an ambitious, diverse and exciting line-up that covered over 50 years of music history – a time span well represented by the two festival previews held in Milan (during November) with Brazilian jazz-funk trio Azymuth and West Coast bassist Thundercat.

A last-minute change of locations due to security issues didn’t stop Jazz:Re:Found kicking off with one of the warmest acts on the menu: Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, whose performance was introduced by Nigerian-Greek electro-soul duo Technoir. Like a football team entering the stadium, the American organist and his apostles were welcomed by an impatient crowd cheerfully chanting the motive of his song “NaaNaaNaa”Presenting one of the best shows of the entire festival, Cory and his band gave a heartfelt performance that didn’t spare breathtaking virtuosic solos and devoted contact with the crowd.

The next day, it was time to pay homage to a milestone of Italian music: iconic jazz-rock saxophonist James Senese and his Napoli Centrale, who presented their latest work “O Sanghe”, along with classics like “Ngazzate Nire” and “Campagna”The band also affectionately paid homage to late Italian singer-songwriter Pino Daniele, who was a long time friend and collaborator of Senese, in an energetic interpretation of “A Me Me Piace ‘O Blues”. Rhythm Section’s Bradley Zero then kept everybody dancing all night, with a fine selection of groovy music gems.

Computers, synths, drum machines and sequencers were the protagonists of the third day, introduced by young Dutch producer Jameszoo – who presented his concept of ‘naive computer jazz’, followed by Belgian DJ and tastemaker LeFtO. The stage this time was set for another celebration of music history as Roni Size brought drum ‘n bass’s golden years back to life in a thrilling show to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of New Forms, his first album considered a milestone of the genre – followed by UK breakbeat and jungle producer Goldie.

Like last year, Jazz:Re:Found showed a great ability in creating a finely balanced programme, best represented by the closing night of Saturday when live acts, electronic music, and DJs met seamlessly. Opened by jazz drummer Moses Boyd and his band, the night went on with the stunning AV show by French composer Chassol. His hands on the keyboard perfectly intertwined with his drummer’s impeccable beats and the intricate orchestra of sounds of birds, voices, and percussions recorded on a trip to Martinique, shaping a performance of rare beauty in which music magically transported the audience somewhere else through time and space. Followed by Italian dub-ska band Casino Royale, the night then went on with a restless battalion of dance masters – from legendary Studio 54 resident DJ Nicky Siano, to Peggy Gou, Tama Sumo, and German vinyl wizard Motor City Drum Ensemble.

Even though the last-minute emergency caused the location to be packed every night, it didn’t stop the spirit of joy and love for music from flowing from every corner of the room, from every smile around us and from every beat pumping through the speakers. Besides the misfortunes, Jazz:Re:Found holds its place on the podium and stays a beautiful, one-of-a-kind festival in Italy – the kind that a true music lover should never miss.