The program of the cozy contemporary jazz festival Raahen Rantajatsit – Jazz On The Beach held at the last weekend of July puts emphasis on the current and daring experimental side of jazz. The headlining act, the Syrian flautist Naïssam Jalal, is also the best known international artist of the festival this year, although her own music has not been heard in Finland before. The stage in Raahe will also feature the French group Three Days of Forest and a wide and colourful setting of most interesting Finnish jazz, folk and pop artists.
Grown in Paris, Naïssam Jalal studied the flute before returning to her roots in Damascus and Cairo to study under the guidance of the masters of Arabic music. Throughout her career she has been influential in groups in many genres, including traditional Arabic music, African music, contemporary jazz, as well as rap. The music of Jalal’s own groups are a mixture of improvisation and Eastern and Western aesthetics combined with a strong humanitarian message. Since the year 2011 Jalal has lead the multinational and involved Rhythms of Resistance. The flautist is bringing to Raahe the trio Quest of The Invisible that have been playing together for two years now and have just recorded an album of meditative music which turns toward sprituality of the being. The two other members of the trio are the Brazilian pianist Leonardo Montana and the French bassist Claude Tchamitchian.
The second international guest of the festival is Three Days of Forest, a group of young French interdisciplinary and experimental musicians with unusual instrumentation and voice poetry. The program also features young Finnish talent in the form of MINE, a collective from Helsinki spreading their gospel of surreal expression. The lively climate of Finnish jazz is also showcased by a folkjazz trio Hot Heros from Tampere, Bowman Trio whose debut album has gained international acclaim, and the now New York based bassist Kaisa Mäensivu with her Kaisa’s Machine quartet.
The tango inspired music of the accordionist Harri Kuusjärvi’s group Sole Azul plays many roles at this year’s festival. The band will be heard playing in their original line-up as well as headed by the vocalist Jaakko Laitinen. Sole Azul will also take care of the boogie tunes at the closing jam of the festival.
The pop line-up of the festival this year looks very organic: on offer is momentous Finnish folk à la the Raahe born Ylva Haru, eclectic groove by Linear John, as well as the indie rock favourite Litku Klemetti playing his first gig in Raahe.
The festival stages are located by the sea as well as the picturesque old town of Raahe. The three-day festival program also features an adventure concert on an island, a free event at Härkätori square, a children’s concert, artist meet-ups, and a workshop held by both local and guest musicians.
To many, the best part of Raahen Rantajatsit – Jazz On The Beach are the surprises and experiences provided by the top artists, summer evenings scented by the salty sea breeze, and the cosy setting for meeting and greeting both old and new friends.
The program for the 31st Raahen Rantajatsit – Jazz On The Beach festival has been put together by Charles Gil.
(Photo: Alexandre Lacombe)