Mare Nostrum at Konzerthaus

Published on Mon 13 April 2015 under music

On February 21, the venerable Konzerthaus in Vienna welcomed a peculiar trio as part of its series "Jazz im Konzerthaus". The musicians call themselves Mare Nostrum, apparently due to the fact they all come from countries with substantial shorelines. The trio featured the God of Jazz Accordion himself, Richard Galliano, along with Sardinian trumpetist Paolo Fresu and Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren.

The gentlemen filled almost two hours with pleasing romantic tunes which nevertheless packed plenty of substance. The individual musicians' temperaments contrasted each other nicely, with Mr. Lundgren laying heartfelt backgrounds reminiscent of the likes of Debussy, Mr. Galliano embroidering melodic lines in his trademark style and Mr. Fresu contributing a more reserved, conservative jazz phraseology.

And yet, it was largely Galliano's show all night. He dominated the stage without imposing himself in the least, simply by virtue of his consummate musicianship. He is one of those improvisers who play as if they were talking, so natural and fluent is his melodic concept. Regardless of the tune, he always has interesting things to play and I don't think he's capable of producing a single boring note.

I wish I could say the same about Paolo Fresu but his playing somehow went right past me. Perhaps I simply wasn't attuned to his mood that night. I can definitely state, however, that at the start of the concert he wasn't attuned to his band-mates. His notes were distinctly sharp, so much so that I can't honestly believe it was intentional. He seemed to adjust his instrument after about four numbers which made him sound much better and rescued my overall impression of the concert.

In conclusion, I spent a most pleasant evening, as I usually do amid the Art-Deco splendor of the Konzerthaus. I wouldn't mind seeing Mare Nostrum again if they happen to stick together for some time. Come to think of it, I'd probably bet on Richard Galliano in any constellation at all. This one wasn't half bad.

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