A trip along the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy, an area well known for oysters, radioactive power and Jazz sous les pommiers, a Jazz festival named after one of the biggest resources in the area, apple trees. So while sipping locally brewed cider and savouring oysters produced along the infamous WWII landing beaches, we skip in between venues and performances in Coutances, a smallish French town still quiet despite the musical circus hitting it for over 30 years now. It all feels odd, in a French way, during what appears to be the hottest and humid day ever. Extremely hot, and amazingly ugly appears to be the Salle Marcel-Hallé that hosts the main events of the festival, including the concert that sees Norwegian saxophonist, composer and all-round jazz legend Garbarek and India’s most talented and inventive percussionist Trilok Gurtu. I had dreamt of a performance under beautiful apple trees in full bloom, festival goers relaxing on the grass and fields of bluebells, whereas we are crammed on uncomfortable sits, gasping for air as no window or door in the venue is open to bring us some oxygen. But despite the hazy, uncomfortable heat, the music is divine, soothing, at times playful, often spiritual. We were all entranced by the performance of Mr Gurtu, with his ragas and myriads of sounds, featuring gongs, bells and a bucket full of water. It was an uplifting, inspirational performance. These gentlemen brought a smile to our faces and serenity to our minds. Hopefully it will also inspire the organizers to move the festival to a more apt location next time around.
Jazz sous le pommiers – Jan Garbarek and Trilok Gurtu 27 May 2017