The festival 2015
Welcome to Jazzfest Berlin 2015
Jazzfest Berlin begins its second half-century by taking a step into the future and asking the question: what is jazz today, and what will it become? This year’s programme is intended to reflect the continued development of a music whose influence is increasingly felt far beyond its own borders, presenting performers united by a single characteristic: the desire to move forward.
Jazz is about many things, and forward momentum is one of them. The 2015 programme consists of artists of many generations and 30 nationalities, with a single shared characteristic: creatively speaking, they are all on the move. They demonstrate that jazz is not really a style, or a series of styles, but a spirit.
So we are honoured to present three distinguished bandleaders who, while embodying several decades of the music’s history, are not content to rely on past achievements. Charles Lloyd will perform Wild Man Dance, a new suite incorporating Greek and Hungarian musicians alongside his regular quartet. Irish folk tunes are the inspiration for Keith Tippett’s The Nine Dances of Patrick O’Gonogon, written for his octet. And Louis Moholo-Moholo, first noted by European audiences 50 years ago when he and his fellow Blue Notes arrived in flight from the apartheid regime, will be joined by gifted musicians of later generations.
The history and traditions of jazz are the foundation of a future that belongs to some of the younger musicians in the programme. There is a symbol of progress and continuity in the appearance of Vincent Peirani: the young French accordionist appeared last year in the band of Daniel Humair, who played in the very first Berlin festival in 1964. The singer Cécile McLorin Salvant and the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire represent the sustained vitality of the core African American tradition. As a mini-festival within a festival, the Giovanni Guidi Trio, the Julia Kadel Trio and Plaistow will demonstrate the apparently inexhaustible possibilities of the piano-bass-drums format in the hands of young musicians.
Jazz’s increasingly international outlook is a phenomenon first identified by the festival’s founding artistic director, Joachim-Ernst Berendt. This year’s programme includes the Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan, the Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenón, and The Necks, the Australian improvising trio who will be appearing in a surprising environment.
A commitment to establishing a connection between the festival and the creative communities in the thriving districts of Berlin is expressed by the appearance of two highly adventurous large ensembles. The first is Splitter Orchester, formed in Berlin by musicians of the Echtzeitmusik movement, who will perform a new work by the celebrated American composer and trombonist George Lewis. The second is Divan of the Continents, featuring Berlin-based musicians of many nationalities, a number of them playing traditional instruments, who will present a series of pieces specially composed for this appearance. These two world premieres involve a measure of risk, for both the performers and their audience. But jazz without a sense of discovery is never really jazz.
Richard Williams Artistic Director
thebluemoment.com – A blog about music by Richard Williams