The multi-part programme “Sonic Dreams: Chicago” at Festspielhaus functions as a festival within a festival, with changing performance environments on stage as different as the music itself.
An artists’ talk marks the beginning of the day, before the night kicks off with an ambitious project by Egyptian multi-instrumentalist and producer Nancy Mounir – presenting an audio-visual endeavor first commissioned by Jazzfest Berlin as a video work at the COVID-limited edition in 2021 – as she brings back the work of female singers whose legacy and ideas were erased in the male-dominated Cairo Congress of Arabic Music in 1932.
British guitarist Fred Frith, an icon of improvised music as well as art-rock pioneer who co-founded the legendary Henry Cow, makes an appearance in his powerful duo with the Portuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silva, who matches his kaleidoscopic sound world. They are joined in a first time collaboration by the Brazilian drummer Mariá Portugal, who performed with her collective Quartabê at last year’s festival. The first part of the main stage action concludes with the Berlin debut of Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love’s “Circus”, a compact ensemble infused with Brazilian melodies, wild improvisation and the magnetic presence of singer and actress Juliana Venter.
While the main stage is remodelled in a 45 minute intermission, another Artists' Talk will take place in the Kassenhalle: Henry Threadgill gives insights into his life and work, as well as his recently published book "Easily Slip Into Another World". The following programme “Sonic Dreams: Chicago” invites listeners on the actual stage floor to become steeped in a recreation of Chicago’s spherical creative music, with three related ensembles and several pop-up groupings demonstrating the communal attitude of the city’s jazz scene: Joshua Abrams presents his long-running Natural Information Society, joined by special guest Ari Brown along with several Berlin musicians. Mike Reed brings his new project, The Separatist Party, to Berlin for the first time, a group with Ben LaMar Gay on cornet, spoken word artist Marvin Tate, and all three members of Bitchin Bajas, who will also play a set of their cosmic jams.
Over at A-Trane Polish keyboardist Joanna Duda leads a trio presenting music from their album “Fumitsuke”, blending jazz and ambient sounds, while Quasimodo hosts the elastic, sound-driven experiments of quartet music by California-based trumpeter Steph Richards that highlights how our sense of smell can impact how we experience music.