Festival of Lights
This mini festival is taking place each October in the Ministergärten, where each German Bundesland has its representation.
And each year they open up their houses to the public and offer typical culinary delights from each part of the country, but more important of course, they present live Jazz.
I started my tour in the bulding of the Saarland which, due to its closeness to Belgium, had a magic duo on offer: the almost legendary guitarist Philip Catherine and the German bassist Martin Wind. They opened their set with two Catherine originals: “Hello George” dedicated to the late great pianist George Shearing, and “L’Eternel Désir”, both tracks from their brilliant ACT Music CD “New Folks” which is part of the label’s Duo Art Series. The album is called “New Folks” because both musicians met not very long ago (spring 2013), but clicked immediately because they both share the love for melody and Swing and moody virtuosity. So these new folks were of course also playing the standard “Old Folks”, written by Willard Robison. It was a beautiful get-together and the perfect start into the night. Wind is one of the few German jazz musicians who is successful in New York. He plays regularly with singer and pianist Dena DeRose or pianist Bill Mays. Catherine is, well, Catherine. A master of technique and taste.
Germany’s Niedersachsen Bundesland featured, among others, the innovative and experimental singer Simin Tander. She grew up in Cologne in a German/Afghan family and her oriental influences can be heard thoughout. Well not really in yesterday’s concert, because the room was so full that I had to listen outside in the foyer where each concert was shown on big screens. It seemed that the crowd this year was even bigger than in the years before which I think is no wonder because of the attractive sites and buildings which are all close to the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz.
Neighbor Schleswig-Holstein presented the highly talented singer and pianist Ida Sand from Sweden. With her roots in Gospel and Soul, her sets always guarantee a high degree of intensity and distinction. She started with an impressive version of “Here Comes The Rain Again” by Annie Lennox and easily went from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Wonder to her own songs. It is always a pleasure to witness this extraordinary singer live in concert.
The Festival this year had another attention-drawing event: Berlin’s Festival of Lights is running until Sunday. At this Festival, the lights were not only shining in the streets and on landmarks, but on the stages of the individual German countries as well.