Jazzfest Berlin turns 50 and has important things to celebrate

Bert Noglik, the artistic director for the Berlin Jazzfest, now in his third year, loves irritations, as he said last night during the press conference where the anniversary edition was presented. And so, there actually are a lot of irritating moments, at least on paper, but I’m sure on stage as well, when you look at this year’s schedule.

50 years ago, Martin Luther King came to Berlin and he wrote the introductory words to the very first Jazzfest: “Jazz speaks of life….When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of earth which flow through his instrument.”

Several of this year’s artists will take o the MLK subject, like Elliott Sharp from New York whose special MLK project was especially designed for the festival and features Charles Mingus’s son Eric and Alex Harding on vocals. “Freedom Songs” is another project which will deal with the legacy of King and will feature the WDR Big Band with Kurt Elling.

The Festival this year is also going to church: legendary saxophonist Benny Golson will team up with Jasper van’t Hof who will play the pipe organ of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche.

There’s more to celebrate: the wall came down 25 years ago and so Ulrich Gumpert, the German pianist, will deal with this historic moment with his concert of four mini operas which will feature the texts of Jochen Berg.

50 years ago, Eric Dolphy died in Berlin much too young. Pianists Alexander von Schlippenbach and Aki Takase will remember his work which culminated in the Blue Note classic “Out To Lunch!”.

But the Festival is by far not dealing with those anniversaries alone. In fact, it would be too obvious for the adventurous mind of Bert Noglik and so, what we get is a little overview of what is going on in the young jazz scene as well with bands transcending the borders of Jazz going into other genres like Rock, Metal, and Trip Hop. Probably among the more known acts will be Jason Moran who will premiere his Fats Waller Dance Party for the first time in Europe and who will also play with his trio the Bandwagon.

All stages, like the Main and Side stages of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele plus the Akademie der Künste, the A-Trane, and the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, will sure present more than just one irritating moment.

More info right here: www.berlinerfestspiele.de



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