The first big double concert and the first part of the showcase programme at the Riga Congress Centre, two concerts at Leisure Park EGLE, an excellent improvisation at KKC and two more masterclasses at the 1st Studio of Latvian Radio. This is how rich with events was the second day of Rigas Ritmi Festival, the 2nd July.
The Festival day started already at 10:00 with the masterclass of the Israeli singer of Ethiopian descent Ester Rada. It was the first time for her doing something like that, and so she was quite confused in the beginning, but, after telling the story of her life, also conversations with the audience of the masterclass started to unfold and Ester also sang after the she was asked to by the audience.
Immediately after Ester, the jazzman and the experienced lecturer from New York Allan Harris took over the air of the masterclasses, and he charmed everyone with his charisma and used humour to present quite serious content rich with information; at times he even surpassed many stand-up comedians. He achieved active dialogue with the audience and sang a little; he promised more singing together on the next day, when his evil twin will arrive at the 1st Studio of Latvian Radio to torture everyone. He was joking, of course; still, the second masterclass of Harris is really expected to be more about music.
At 14:00 the agenda of the day continued with the showcase programme at the New Hall of Riga Congress Centre with performances of Daumants Kalniņš 5tet, The Presence of JR, Raimonds Tiguls and Laima Jansone, and Bunch of Gentlemen.
The singer Daumants Kalniņš with his men performed a set of five self-composed songs, and the composition “A Moment for East” in Oriental mood was performed particularly filled with emotions. The guitarist Jānis Ruņģis with the bassist Reinis Ozoliņš and the drummer Rūdolfs Dankfelds performed a set pf three long experimental compositions and drawn everyone into a design of sounds and various moods, and one of the surprises was Jānis stepping down off the stage during the piece to play the sounds of a distant pipe from the behind of the stage. The keyboardist and hang player Raimonds Riguls with the help of kokle player Laima Jansone took the audience to a half an hour long musical trip consisting of one composition which was based on orchestral structure, but they recognised later that it would sound better if performed with real orchestra and not with a digitally programmed accompaniment, but unfortunately the New Hall stage did not have room for such large number of performers. The stage merely had enough space for the jazz-funk force of nine men Bunch of Gentlemen, which performed on the first day of the festival at the Central Station Square; also this time the band asked the singer Arta Jēkabsone to join them and tried to achieve party atmosphere.
At 19:00 it was time for the big double concert at the large hall of the Riga Congress Centre, where the project of Norwegian keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft, Bugge ‘N’ Friends, performed first and was followed by Ester Rada. The concert of Wesseltoft stood out with the fact that the programme of freshly launched album Bugge ‘N’ Friends was presented in Riga, and the project will go on tour with this program in Europe. It was an hour and a half long trip to the world of electronic rhythms and bold jazz improvisation where Bugge played with three fellow Norwegian artists and guests from the U.S. and France. France was represented by the famous trumpeter Erik Truffaz. Significant emphasis in the concert was put on also on the American producer and DJ Joaquin “Joe” Claussell, who maintained club music-worthy main rhythm and played also percussions.
Ester Rada performed in the second part of the Concert, where she and the accompanying band performed whirling mix of Ethiopian folk music, funk, reggae and soul music. The programme included both compositions from the latest album Ester Rada and versions of songs of Ester’s favourite artist Nina Simone. In the end the entire audience had to stand up to join an exotic 6/8 time dance or what Rada was calling Ethiopian Feast.
In the meantime, Daumants Kalniņš 5tet performed at 20:00 in the Leisure Park EGLE, and, of course, he supplemented the programme a little, and the was followed by the Danish singer Malene Kjaergaard, who was also a participant of the festival’s project Riga Jazz Presents, and she performed a programme of self-composed jazz pieces.
At 21:00, on the second floor hall of KKC the audience experienced a musical avant-garde adventure with the guitarist Matīss Čudars and Slovenian pianist Kaja Daksler, who incited the audience to the degree that the concert took place twice as long as planned before.
In the end, at 22:00 the project of Rihards Fedotovs, Spencer Manley & Feds, performed at Daugava Concert Hall within the series of events OlainFarm Jazz Nights, and the band consisted of the American singer Taphy Spencer and another American and guitarist Dave Manley, with the keyboardist Rūdolfs Macats joining them this time. The programme of the festival’s second day ended with r’n’b sounds with a hint of electronic music on the banks of Daugava River.
Still two more days rich with events to attend. Come join us and feel the rhythm!