Programme 2018

Collective Crossings and Collective Visions

A festival is so much more than just a place for concerts and representation. It works like a living microcosm that develops its own dynamics and creates something new. Under the new artistic direction of Nadin Deventer, Jazzfest Berlin 2018 put together a programme full of creative border crossings and collective visions around outstanding musicians, with seminal icons of jazz and young talents from the most diverse directions. It orchestrates contrasted, sought challenges and opened up spaces for encounters both for the artists and the audience. It created time capsules, traveled into the future and looked into the past, demanded utopias, promoted free spirits, wanted to move, think, dance and groove.

Thematically, the Jazzfest Berlin 2018 navigated between the polyphony of upcoming European artists with their dynamic spheres of activity and Chicago as a place for creative exchange and collective togetherness that stands for both artistic and social freedom. The festival was also dedicated to jazz in-between its Afro-American historiography – which revolves around oppression and liberation, racism and empowerment – and today’s creative cosmos, such as Afrofuturism in its manifold varieties.

For four days, nearly 200 musicians from 15 countries occupied the Haus der Berliner Festspiele and other venues in diverse formations. New formats and collaborations opened the festival up to other arts and created new spaces of experience inside and outside the Festspielhaus, such as installations, neighbourhood concerts, exhibition visits, panels and performances.

On 1 November, the “Haus of Jazz” marked the Grand Opening of the 55th Jazzfest Berlin with ten acts and numerous German premieres on all levels of the Festspielhaus. Nicole Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble opened the evening on the big stage with the afrofuturistic work “Mandorla Awakening”. At the same time, the Berlin KIM Collective played its Carte Blanche to create the “Un(ter)ort” on the lower stage of the house – a musical echo to the events above ground. In addition, six bands on three stages created parallel musical universes and inaugurated the house as a free space for movement. Rob Mazurek concluded the evening with the highlight “Exploding Star International: Chicago-Berlin”, which was specially initiated for the Jazzfest.

The interplay between Chicago's political creative hub and international artists continued on Friday, when Moor Mother – an eloquent poet, activist and representative of Afrofuturism – and jazz pioneer Roscoe Mitchell entered a musical dialogue for the first time. It was framed by performances by the political-expressive band Irreversible Entanglements, the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Chicago newcomer Jamie Branch. Afterwards, Théo Ceccaldi’s “Freaks” appeared loudly, physically and extrovertedly, and the WorldService Projekt set out on a wild genre mix.

On Saturday evening, pianist Jason Moran and filmmaker Bradford Young dedicated themselves to the beginnings of jazz with the audio-visual commissioned work “James Reese Europe & the Absence of Ruin” about the Afro-American musician and soldier, whose musical and political influence shaped the arrival of jazz in Europe while he was stationed in France during the First World War. This was preceded by the concert of the WDR Big Band with the virtuoso singer Jazzmeia Horn. At the end of the evening, we returned to the origins of jazz and swing to Polish Ragtime, before Makaya McCraven and Nubya Garcia started the dance night at Prince Charles.

After this heterogeneous festival programme, Sunday was marked by other experiences: musical walks through the neighbourhoods and visits to exhibitions set resting points before Maria Faust and Kara-Lis Coverdale took over the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with their soundscapes of Estonian church music. The European premiere of the Mary Halvorson Octet also offered a musical experience of special intensity. As Artist in Residence, the New York guitarist accompanied the Jazzfest on all days with her distinctive performance in different formations. The Norwegian sound artist Kim Myhr preceded her on Sunday evening and the extraordinary guitarist Bill Frisell concluded the festival puristically as a soloist on the big stage of the Festspielhaus after more than 45 musical, participative and discursive contributions.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Friday, 2 November 2018

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Sunday, 4 November 2018