Johansson // Karja / Renard / Wandinger // Brötzmann / Bekkas / Drake
A diverse programme kicks off the second night of Jazzfest Berlin: a frothy performance piece conceived by artist Sven-Åke Johansson, state-of-the-art piano trio music by Estonia’s Kirke Karja, and a collision of free jazz and Gnawan grooves with Peter Brötzman, Hamid Drake and Majid Bekkas.
Sven-Åke Johansson: “MM Schäumend”
Overture for 15 hand fire extinguishers
(SE, FR, DE)
Sven-Åke Johansson contains multitudes. Although the Swedish native has a towering presence in Berlin’s free music scene for more than five decades, he is also a wildly prolific, fearless visual artist and conceptualist. This year Jazzfest Berlin celebrates his work with a film screening, music performances and a rare presentation of this performance work, which brings together many threads of his output. “MM Schäumend” – Ouvertüre für 15 Handfeuerlöscher is a scored work for fifteen musicians playing the titular device, with Johansson conducting the ensemble.
Pierre-Antoine Badaroux fire extinguisher
Michaël Ballue fire extinguisher
Sébastien Beliah fire extinguisher
Pierre Borel fire extinguisher
Antonio Borghini fire extinguisher
Benjamin Dousteyssie fire extinguisher
Geoffroy Gesser fire extinguisher
Antonin-Tri Hoang fire extinguisher
Louis Laurain fire extinguisher
Pauline Leblond fire extinguisher
Gabriel Levasseur fire extinguisher
Hannes Lingens fire extinguisher
Matthieu Naulleau fire extinguisher
Brice Pichard fire extinguisher
Romain Vuillemin fire extinguisher
Sven-Åke Johansson composition, conduction
With a series of original features, the Digital Guide “Sven-Åke Johansson” presents some fascinating glimpses into the life and work of the composer and artist. To the Digital Guide
Karja / Renard / Wandinger: “The Wrong Needle”
(EE, FR, DE)
One of the most exciting piano trios to emerge in the last few years, this group led by acclaimed Estonian pianist Kirke Karja is starting to make international noise in the wake of their debut album “The Wrong Needle”. Right out of the gate the trio grabs listeners by the neck, with an explosion of jagged, gut-punching beats laid out by Berlin drummer Ludwig Wandinger and thrumming bass tones produced by French bassist Etienne Renard. There is something fearless in the group’s rhythmic posture and physicality. In particular there is a breathless, hard-hitting aggression that borrows some of its precise articulation and metric complexity from prog-rock, but even at its most punishing this trio maintains a buoyant vigor and sense of pure glee. The leader’s knotty compositions are impressively elastic, stretching to accommodate interpretations that push them to their breaking point. However, the group never loses its composure, balancing technical mastery with an infectious sense of adventure and play.
Kirke Karja piano, composition
Etienne Renard double bass
Ludwig Wandinger drums
Brötzmann / Bekkas / Drake
(DE, MA, US)
The music of Morocco has long attracted improvising musicians, whether luring the great pianist Randy Weston to move to Tangiers in 1967, where he opened a club, or drawing Ornette Coleman to jam and record with the Master Musicians of Jajouka in the early 1970s. In particular, the trance-inducing grooves of Gnawan musicians has proven fertile ground for exploration. At the 1996 edition of the Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria the great German reedist Peter Brötzmann extended that line with a riveting collaboration with Chicago drummer Hamid Drake and Maâlem Mahmoud Gania, a master of the twangy bass-like guembri who had previously worked with Pharoah Sanders. Gania passed away in 2015, but the instrumental blend proved too enticing to give up. In 2019, Gania’s brother, Maâlem Moukhtar Gania filled his shoes for a galvanizing performance at Bologna’s AngelicA Festival, resulting in the powerful recording “The Catch of a Ghost”.
Due to unforeseen health issues, Maâlem Moukhtar Gania has had to cancel the planned reunion of the trio at Jazzfest Berlin 2022. Instead, the renowned oudist and guembri master Majid Bekkas – who gained a reputation in collaborations with international blues and jazz greats such as John Lee Hooker, Joachim Kühn, Fela Kuti and Pharoah Sanders – will join Brötzmann and Drake at the festival to continue the long-standing tradition of blending Gnawa music and jazz. An historical reunion nevertheless, as the three musicians once shared a stage in Mulhouse, when Bekkas played for the first time in Europe in 1997.
Peter Brötzmann tenor saxophone, tarogato
Majid Bekkas guembri, vocals
Hamid Drake drums