Saturday night in Volga is completely dedicated to what’s been called One-on-One; no less than nine concerts by two heavy-hitters in jazz at a time. Inspiration for this series of intimate performances came from two different projects - with many similarities nonetheless.
For his 2015 music video art project The Seasons, saxophonist and composer Ben Wendel was inspired by a set of twelve piano pieces written and released each month by Tchaikovsky in 1876. Wendel’s modern take on the idea was to compose and release twelve original jazz chamber duets in video format on YouTube with modern luminaries Joshua Redman, Luciana Souza, Eric Harland, Julian Lage, and Ambrose Akinmusire, among others.
Pianist and composer Kris Davis’s 2016 album Duopoly contains a series of duets featuring renowned improvisers including Bill Frisell and Julian Lage (guitars), Craig Taborn (piano), and Marcus Gilmore (drums/percussion). Each musician plays two duets with Davis on the album; one composed piece and one freely improvised piece.
Adapted for the North Sea Jazz stage, One-on-One features performances by eleven different musicians in rotating duos.
Ben Wendel has enjoyed a varied career as a performer, composer, and producer. Highlights include tours with artists such as Tigran Hamasyan, Gerald Clayton, Snoop Dogg, and Prince. Wendel is a founding member of the group Kneebody. As a composer, he has received several awards, including the ASCAP Jazz Composer Award. An album of his The Seasons project was released in 2018.
Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire was still in school when he caught the attention of saxophonist Steve Coleman, who hired him as a member of his Five Elements band. Akinmusire went on to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2007. His Blue Note debut When The Heart Emerges Glistening was released in 2011 to rave reviews. Last year he released his latest album Origami Harvest, his fourth on the famous label.