Giving it wildly in the Hague - May 09


Friday gig

Friday gig
Photo © Jo Lehmann


A chance to relax in Den Haag

A chance to relax in Den Haag
Photo © Jo Lehmann

A human whirlwind passes through Holland tearing the air with the sound of a thousand furious blowers at the Hague Jazz Festival. Nobody's feet touches the ground, thereís no time. It feels like visiting a whole planet full of musicians who've obviously died and gone on to Heaven.

The omnipresent smell of legalised dope bars intermingling with that of coffee makes the Dutch the hippest nation to visit for a wild weekend. Music spills out from everywhere and on to the streets. Summer just seems to have kicked in big time as an added bonus...

Djabe have invited me to jam with them once more. This time the line up included the great John Nugent on sax who himself organises the Stateside Rochester Jazz Fest and finds time to play with a mere twelve or so of the acts he's promoting on any given year. Djabe combine many free styles but use structure to contrast the more 'out there' moments. Attila Egerhazi, the band's driving force and dynamic bass player Tamas Barabas lead the Djabe parade as founding members. Ferenc Kovacs ('Feri' to his friends) manages to play gypsy violin, jazz trumpet, is an Olympic Kendo champion and makes his own hooch which packs as much punch as his martial arts - in short he is a complete original. The Hungarians seem to combine multiple personalities... Nugent often quips "This guy is the king of Hungary..." Feri is as restless as the Mongolian horsemen of the Steppes. Itís probably why he likes to play my piece of the same name.

Breaking bread with the band

Breaking bread with the band
Photo © Jo Lehmann


It's a bigger line up than usual at Den Haag, Djabe playing two nights here at different locations within the same complex. Night two on Saturday was what it's all about for me. You canít tell who's playing who. The violin becomes the voice... the guitar, sax and keys all mingle together and set the crowd on fire as if this kind of music is the oxygen the crowd need to breathe. The more excited the band become, the more the crowd roar their approval. The line up on the Dutch gigs is joined by young Aron Koos-Hutas on trumpet who takes time to build his solos from an apparent centre of calm. Heís obviously thrilled to be here too. Then there's the tirelessly enthusiastic Szilard Banai, his drums buckling under the weight of his assault and Zoltan Kovacs, Zolti to his pals, who plays keys with a furious intensity - a classical pianist and another demon player.

Of all the gigs with Djabe I felt that the Sat 23 May show gave me a rare chance to allow the music to play me instead of the other way round. Minimal arrangements and max atmospherics stretched boundaries in a collision/fusion of cultures. Iíll always look forward to my times with the free spirited nomadic world of Djabe.

Saturday show

Saturday show
Photo © Jo Lehmann




Photo's up in the Gallery
A further collection of photos can be found here:
Steve and Djabe by Steven Rieder