Asher Gamedze // KOMПOUSSULĂ // Matana Roberts

Drummer and bandleader Asher Gamedze extends the legacy of South African resistance music, a Jazzfest commission brings vibrant interpretations of and improvisations on European folk traditions, and Chicago composer and reedist Matana Roberts transforms traces of their family roots through updated sounds of Memphis.

Collage with Asher Gamedze, Matana Roberts and the band KOMПOUSSULĂ

Asher Gamedze // KOMПOUSSULĂ // Matana Roberts

© Frank Schmitt, Brett Walker, Leo Wölfel

Past Dates

18:30 / German premiere

Asher Gamedze: “Dialectic Soul”


The 2021 edition of Jazzfest Berlin included a focus on music from Johannesburg, South Africa, featuring livestreamed performances and an in-person solo set from pianist Nduduzo Makhathini. This year features the bandleading debut of the remarkable drummer, composer, and scholar Asher Gamedze, who previously performed at the festival in 2019 with Angel Bat Dawid. He brings the quartet from his 2020 album “Dialectic Soul”, a searing and soulful act of musical resistance against colonialism and capitalism. Alongside tenor saxophonist Buddy Wells, trumpeter Robin Kock, and bassist Thembinkosi Mavimbela they reflect the spirituality of John Coltrane at its most probing and the experimentation of the Art Ensemble of Chicago at its most measured, but the project is ultimately rooted in the sounds and mindset of South African traditions. The group’s reading of the South African gospel hymn “Hallelujah, Amen,” remade as “Siyabulela”, is a moving, lyrical meditation that imparts dazzling empathy, responding to loss with steely grace, while the anti-colonial song “Hope in Azania,” known also as “Cape to Cairo,” conveys protest with pure ebullience. The centerpiece of the album is a beautifully proportioned four-part suite rooted in post-Coltrane expression.


Asher Gamedze drums
Thembinkosi Mavimbela bass
Buddy Wells tenor saxophone
Robin Kock trumpet

Read the interview with Asher Gamedze in the Digital Guide “Outside Traditions”


20:00 / Premiere


(FR, UA, PL, AU, TR, BE, RO)

Several projects performing at this year’s Jazzfest Berlin – including Lumpeks, Black Sea Songs, and pianist Kateryna Ziabliuk – provide thrilling, disparate approaches to the adaptation of folk music in a loosely defined jazz context. Each of these artists from (mainly Eastern) Europe and around the Black Sea has located timeless narratives and melodies within traditions that stretch back centuries, demonstrating the endless malleability of songs that zero in on recurring themes of the human experience within their inventive re-imagination. Jazzfest Berlin has commissioned the musicians from these projects to share their ideas onstage and develop a joint performance that will allow listeners to trace differences in these various traditions and their specific approaches, but more importantly, we will also hear the commonalities. In addition to the musicians from Lumpeks and Black Sea Songs, Ziabliuk – a Ukrainian native currently living and working in Poland – has also invited the Berlin-based Australian drummer Samuel Hall and Rotterdam-based Ukrainian folk singer Maryana Golovchenko to round out the ensemble.


Kateryna Ziabliuk piano, prepared piano, vocals
Samuel Hall drums, electronic, percussions
Maryana Golovchenko vocals
Louis Laurain trumpet, cornet
Pierre Borel alto saxophone
Olga Kozieł vocals, traditional polish percussions
Sébastien Beliah double bass
Sanem Kalfa vocals
Joachim Badenhorst clarinet, live electronics
George Dumitriu acoustic & electric guitars, viola, effects

Commissioned by Berliner Festspiele / Jazzfest Berlin

More on folk & improvised music in our Digital Guide “Outside Traditions”


21:30 / European premiere

Matana Roberts: “Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis”

(US / CA)

Chicago reedist, composer and visual artist Matana Roberts (they/them) is impossible to pin down. “I keep doing this thing where I let my curiosity lead me, and I end up in these different corners where I’m asked to do some really fascinating things”, they said in an interview in 2019. Roberts is a collaborator who’s aesthetic was formed by jazz and improvisation, but their artistic practice has blossomed well outside beyond those roots. No single project conveys their full diapason, but the long-running “Coin Coin” project comes closest, a projected 12-part exploration of sonic ethnography that melds their own genealogical research with history. At this year’s Jazzfest Berlin Roberts gives the premiere of the fourth chapter of the endeavour, exploring their family roots in Memphis, Tennessee, one of America’s most important musical cities, through the lens of a relative known as Liddie, who experienced the pain and terror of racism first-hand, as her father was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Roberts assembled a nimble sextet of musicians from New York and Montreal to play the compositions – bassoonist and singer Joy Guidry, guitarist Sam Shalabi, accordionist and guitarist Hannah Marcus, drummer Ryan Sawyer, and bassist Nicolas Caloia – navigating pieces which draw from the titular city’s rich legacy of blues, gospel, jazz, and R&B, but carve out their own identity. The result is a deeply personal work that touches on universal themes of subjugation, perseverance, and triumph in the face of brutality.


Matana Roberts composer, alto saxophone, clarinet, spoken word, vocals
Joy Guidry bassoon, vocals
Hannah Marcus fiddle, accordion, guitar, vocals
Nic Caloia double bass, vocals
Sam Shalabi guitar, oud, vocals
Ryan Sawyer drums, vibraphone, jaw harps, vocals

See Matana Robert’s graphic scores for “Coin Coin” in the Digital Guide “Outside Traditions”