Andrew Choate – The Fuckle
Opening things up on the Jazzgalerie main stage was the Italian quartet Roots Magic. They got things started with a gravelly baritone swagger from De Fabritiis on Charlie Patton’s “Down the Dirt Road Blues” from 1929. I appreciated the combination of the darkness and the celebration, as if the worst experiences can still somehow be commemorated as long as we have other people to share the sentiment with. They also did a version of Julius Hemphill’s “The Hard Blues,” and somehow De Fabritiis’ alto was even more gritty than his baritone: he’s got a growl that could cook a mean steak. This was their first gig playing outside Italy, and they didn’t extend these pieces too much beyond the nut of the original, just lovingly embraced the tunes and put them to bed. But when you choose a set list of tunes by Blind Willie Johnson, Phil Cohran, Olu Dara, John Carter, Pee Wee Russell and Sun Ra, that’s the right strategy. A great choice to open the festival as the breadth of the historical context for a lot of the music that was to come later was acknowledged and rejoiced.