New Voices and International Encounters:
“Make Some Noise!”
“The last thing I’m interested in is existential freedom.”
Creative border-crossings can amount to so much more if they overcome the current imperative of individual self-fulfilment and become collective visions. The friction between strong creative voices has often proved to be the driving force for the most exciting bands, ensembles and scenes.
Ever since a group of African-American avant-garde musicians – including Anthony Braxton – founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago in the 1960s, such highly individual characters have organised themselves in collectives that organise their own production conditions and performance practices of their music, safeguarding spheres of creative autonomy to oppose the pressures of prevailing systems of economic exploitation.
With its focus on communities, collectives and international encounters, but also on improvisation as the culture and language of these communities, Jazzfest Berlin 2019 will draw on established partnerships and invite numerous new voices to celebrate their German debuts.
One representative of this practice of building bridges and enabling encounters is the US-American composer and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton – and this year’s edition of Jazzfest Berlin will dedicate a topical focus to him. The third ever performance worldwide of his full-length project “Sonic Genome” will open Jazzfest Berlin 2019 at Gropius Bau on Thursday night: 14 US-American musicians from Braxton’s inner circle, 39 musicians from Berlin’s diverse music scene and six members of the Australian Art Orchestra will be involved in this cooperation. Over a period of six hours, several smaller ensembles will navigate up to 450 of Braxton’s compositions, splitting up like a living organism, moving through the Gropius Bau and coming back together in different configurations. Beside this large-scale transatlantic cooperation project, an accompanying programme will explore selected aspects of Anthony Braxton’s work, which spans five decades. A sample of his latest compositional system “ZIM Music” will conclude Jazzfest Berlin on Sunday night.
Two Late Night Labs will continue the festival’s exploration of the processual nature of musical creation. This new format of Jazzfest Berlin will provide a platform for interdisciplinary cooperation: On Friday night, it will feature three diverse European trios around the leaders Anja Lauvdal, Petter Eldh and Lukas König. For around 100 minutes, these musicians will take to the redesigned Main Stage at the Festspielhaus in ever changing formations. On Saturday night, there will be an extended version of the international ensemble T(r)opic under the joint musical direction of American trumpeter Rob Mazurek and French guitarist Julien Desprez, who were both guests at last year’s festival edition. They will be joined by dancers and musicians from the already existing groups São Paulo Underground and COCO, including renowned improvisation artists like Mette Rasmussen, Susana Santos Silva, Guilherme Granado and Lotte Anker. In both Labs, the players will join together in ever new subgroups, playing in already existing, autonomous ensemble configurations as well as entirely new constellations.
The performances of KIM Collective are a continuation of another partnership forged last year – and it brings Berlin’s music scene into sharper focus. Following their performance underneath the Main Stage at Jazzfest Berlin 2018, the collective will present “Garden of Hyphae” this year, a sound installation located in the Festspielhaus’ Foyer, as well as a multi-media “Fungus Opera” on the Main Stage. Australian guitarist Julia Reidy, also based in Berlin, is a member of KIM Collective. Her latest commissioned work will be performed by the Australian Art Orchestra on Friday night, in a concert also featuring compositions by Peter Knight with a literary inspiration. The Australian Art Orchestra has been developing detailed adaptations of music from a wide range of eras and cultures for many years, including music from the Australian Aborigine tribe of the Yolngu. Also on Friday night, the Berlin-based drummer Christian Lillingerwill present the second-ever performance of his project “Open Form for Society” – a symphony of beats, keyboard patterns and string elements that will encounter the improvisational creativity of his first-rate ensemble.
The Berlin-based Turkish vocalist Cansu Tanrıkulu will celebrate the world premiere of a “Suite” at Jazzfest Berlin 2019 with her new trio Melez. And French singer Leïla Martial is no less of a virtuoso. Angel Bat Dawid and her Chicago band The Brothahood will tie into last year’s focus topics – Afrofuturism and Chicago as a musical centre – while Sinikka Langeland will impart a contemporary sound to Finnish folk runes at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
Other genre-crossing musicians in this year’s programme integrate both hip-hop’s musical vocabulary and its political content in their music. Ambrose Akinmusire, for instance, is convinced that jazz and hip-hop have the same message – and he will prove it with the German premiere of his latest album “Origami Harvest” at Jazzfest Berlin 2019. Or James Brandon Lewis with his Frontline partner Jaimie Branch in “An UnRuly Manifesto”, or the Texan band The Young Mothers, whose musical language oscillates between hip-hop, funk, punk rock and free jazz.
Over four festival days, around 200 musicians from 15 countries will perform at Haus der Berliner Festspiele and other venues, demonstrating the development and conceptual range of what jazz can be – and how much scope there is for a multitude of experiments and communities.
The 2018 Jazzfest Berlin
Sold-out concerts, positive reactions, unusual experiences in unusual spaces: In 2018, Jazzfest Berlin’s dramaturgy had a fresh start, focusing on political issues like Afrofuturism and the empowerment of Black Music or on the musical scenes of Chicago and Europe. And the responses were enthusiastic! We are delighted with this successful relaunch and would like to say ‘thank you’ with this recap-video!
The Jazzfest Berlin
Presenting both style-defining icons of jazz and young positions from a wide variety of styles, Jazzfest Berlin presents a festival programme full of creative border-crossings and collective visions.