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Martin Longley

is frequently immersed in a stinking mire of dense guitar treacle, trembling across the bedsit floorboards, rifling through a curvatured stack of gleaming laptoppery, picking up a mold-speckled avant jazz platter on the way, all the while attempting to translate these worrying eardrum vibrations into semi-coherent sentences. Right now he's penning for The Wire, Downbeat, Jazzwise, Songlines and the All About Jazz websites.

Sexmob and John Medeski at Jazz Standard, March 9th, 2018

Itching for action, Sexmob swelled up an introductory theme, doing battle with the Jazz Standard’s disembodied announcer, bandleader Steven Bernstein competitively laying down his own alternative house rules.

Savannah Music Festival

We could flit down from NYC to historically rich Savannah, Georgia, exchanging frostbite for mosquito-bite.

Jazzkaar; Tallinn, Estonia, April 20-29

Tallinn is renowned for the old and the new, its castle-walled quaintness and its digital advancement, its Old Town, and its cultural youth. Skype was born here, and Estonia is recently offering an amorphous (though effective) online residency e-status.

Moers Festival

Following the inspired-as-ever 2016 Moers Festival, there was a worrying period where it looked like this deeply entrenched alternative German institution would suffer a sudden death. Its artistic director for just over a decade was Reiner Michalke (he runs the equally alternative venue Stadtgarten in Cologne).

Punkt Festival

The Punkt festival in Norway revolves around a unique concept.

Green Man Festival

A towering green man looms over the Far Out area of the Green Man festival, in the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons. His fate is to be burnt at the witching hour, on the final midnight of this Welsh weekender, his leaves, roots, goat horns, and brandished bowl of fruit immolated just prior to an even bigger fireworks display. An ancient mythological figure of cyclic renewal, the green man’s roots might be pagan, but he persisted to the early days of church decoration, and his visage spans variegated global cultures. Greenery was fresh in the 2018 spring, but now as autumn falls, it’s time for flaming destruction. First, though, there were four days full of musical performances, with satellite spaces devoted to film, discussion, comedy, healthy living, installation art, and copious quantities of indigenous Welsh real ale and cider.

Sons d'hiver, Maison Des Arts

Sons d'hiver (Winter Sounds) has been running in Paris for almost three decades, presenting artists on the perimeter of jazz, usually with a pair of acts each evening, and taking up most of February. For the festival's last weekend (22nd/23rd) of its accustomed three-week run, Paris was basking in unseasonal sunshine, and spring sounds were already sprouting.

Ethno Port 2019

Unlike the soft fusions of many other global music festivals, Ethno Port adopts a hardcore folkloric approach, presenting unfiltered forms in the Polish city of Poznań. If styles are to be blended, their amalgamation usually has a harder surface of creative confrontation, or perhaps a subtle creeping together of twinned, introspective forms.

WOMAD

The World Of Music, Art & Dance has been running since 1982, when its inauguration was a glorious cultural success, but unfortunately a complete financial disaster. Peter Gabriel was a founding (and funding) force, so he decided to reunite with Genesis bandmates to play a massive benefit gig. Given a second life, the WOMAD organization began to build a sound infrastructure, and the festival has subsequently become a revered global music institution, maintaining its annual English core version, as well as sprouting offspring in Spain, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. There was even a short-lived US edition, close to Seattle.

Nuits Sonores, Brussels

Nuits Sonores is an electronic music festival, but there is always room for a musical detour.

Aphex Twin

Avant Gardner thinks it’s an airport. Security is paramount—just look at their website to check out the heavy restrictions on what’s allowed inside its warehouse-like cavern. Rows of metal fences zig-zagged, herding this capacity crowd into a performance that was understandably in phenomenal demand.

Artonov, Brussels, Belgium, 7th-13th October 2019

Artonov is a young festival, only in its fifth edition. Its central concept involves risk, with a strategy of marrying art forms that would most often be separated. Even if a pair of disciplines might have an established relationship, it’s unusual for three or four vocabularies to be actively intertwined in one ‘happening’—music, dance, painting, storytelling, photography, costume design, even culinary adventure.

Jazzfest Berlin

Much of the music of this 56th edition moved further away from jazz, even in that music’s more out-there manifestations. Unlike some other wayward jazz fests, this Berlin four-dayer set the controls for modern composition, rather than rock, electronic, or global-rooted side-sounds—although all of those aspects were present to some degree.

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The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 19-JAN 20

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