Reijseger – Fraanje – Sylla at the National Concert Hall, April 10th 2015.

‘April Jazz’, a new set of concerts brought to Dublin by the National Concert Hall and Note Productions, has afforded a fresh perspective on jazz in the city. Opening this set of four concerts is the trio of Reijseger – Fraanje – Sylla, who offer an intriguing combination of instruments with piano (Harmen Fraanje), Cello (Ernst Reijseger), Vocals, M’bira, Xalam and Kongoma (Mola Sylla).

The trio open the evening’s music with a bang, proving from the first moments of the performance that these men are more than seasoned performers. The small audience in the darkened Kevin Barry Room are captivated from the first moments. Just glancing around the room, it’s clear instantly from the grinning faces just how affecting the jazz infusion style of this trio is. The juxtaposition of piano and cello against the African instruments in use in tonight’s concert is truly captivating, with the African vocals of Sylla offering even further enchanting texture and melody. The effect is palpable.

Regardless, however, of the variety of styles at work in the music of this trio, the ensemble manages to achieve something truly free of genre. The music floats gently in a grey area, a wonderful fusion of ideas that both challenges and engulfs the ear, each aspect complimenting the others perfectly.

Reijseger on cello acts as much the frontman as Sylla, with his style of performance both entertaining and effective. Moving between a more tradition style of playing, and adapting a more electric-bass style of playing, Reijseger elicits a remarkably vast array of tones and timbres from the instruments, using the strings, bow, and body; a truly versatile performer, with each timbre seamlessly morphing into the next.

Coming to the end of the performance, the trio are given not a moments rest, with an encore immediately called for. They happily return, finally closing to a standing ovation from the packed performance room. The grins, whispers and laughter shared by each member of the trio suggest a happy ensemble, and the performance certainly proves that; the familiar and comfortable relationship between the performers offers an even greater audience experience, as the room takes on a more communal feel, a wonderful contrast to the traditionally more formal style of concert in the National Concert Hall.

It is truly wonderful to see such versatile ensemble receive such a warm welcome in the National Concert Hall. May the National Concert Hall see many more ‘April Jazz’ concerts in the future years.

 Photograph by Krijn Van Noordwijk.