The Austrian female duo JuJu came to play on a freezing Bratislava Friday, the start of a spree of icy weather. They brought, although just for one evening, the sun of Orient, the Mediterranean warmth and the colours and carelessness of Africa, but also the “Complainer-Blues” and the “Tango for Lonely Winternights”. Whether joyful or blue, the main perception and expression of these two young musicians can be called playful. You fell the playfulness even in their version of blues or the tribute to “Vienna waltz” (Wiener Walzseligkeit).
Judith Reiter (viola, voice, composition, special effects) and Julia Schreitl (alto- and soprano-saxophone, Bb and Bass-clarinet, voice, composition, special effects) are two girls who met when studying at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts, but started playing together more systematically later, between 2008 and 2010, after they returned from their exchange study programmes. Apart from playing together as JuJu they follow separate careers in different musical bodies. In the beginning of their common work, they mainly improvised, but later they wrote their own compositions and gave a number of concerts at various occasions. Moreover, they were chosen for the “new Austrian Sound of Music” in the category Jazz for the years 2012 and 2013. This programme supports young Austrian musicians playing abroad and presenting local music scene,
In Bratislava’s Mozart Hall of the Austrian Embassy, they played on February 3 mainly songs from their recently launched album „Short Stories“. Apart from playing with music – which can be called a melange of jazz, world- and ethno with classical influences – they also play with words, unfortunately mainly in German. But their foreign experience shows in the fact that they have also some lyrics in English and the “booklet” accompanying the CD has also English footnotes or translations. The booklet complements the album (one of the Ju girls said that each song is a separate story), and brings lyrics, introductions to songs complete with drawings by Akram al Halabi that make it an individual work of art. But also Slovaks who understand neither German, nor English, were able to just close their eyes on that evening and let themselves be carried away from the Bratislava blizzard, to a Catalonian light-house, or a lazy Vienna autumn nostalgia.
Julia Schreitl said for The Slovak Spectator (TSS) that the well-perceived local concert was one of their first abroad as the JuJu duo. She added the grouping started in 2007 but rather small, playing in really small clubs and restaurants, and only in 2010 managed to do bigger performances. Head of the Austrian Cultural Forum Brigitte Trinkl told TSS about the criteria and the process of selecting Austrian artists for embassy support. “We have our own ideas, for example a year can be dedicated to certain personality or an anniversary, but in general, we get recommendations from the Culture Section of the Austrian Foreign Ministry who have updated information about actual musical scene; and the girls have been recommended to us in this way. Basically, we try to bring in young, promising contemporary musicians and composers of various genres and styles. And we try to combine the well-established with the lesser known, so that the diapason is broader.”
The bulletin for the concert says that in African and Caribbean cultures the power called “JuJu” is known for its mystical influence – and with some poetic license, this can be said also about the music and actual performance of the Austrian musicians who love so much to play with their names, with words, with tones… And in the Yoruba language, it simply means a local style of music.