NEWS: 2016 Jazzfest Berlin programme announced (November 1-6)

The leader of the Global Unity Orchestra Alexander von Schlippenbach
Drawing from Cafe Oto in 2015 by Geoffrey Winston
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Sebastian writes:

The programme for the second Berlin jazz festival under the Artistic Directorship of Richard Williams has been announced at a Press Conference today.

American headliners include Jack DeJohnette, Mary Halvorson, Julia Holter, Steve Lehman, Myra Melford, Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, Matana Roberts and Wadada Leo Smith. UK-based performers announced include Evan Parker, Alexander Hawkins and Yazz Ahmed. The Festival uses the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, (knownto Berliners as the Gedächtniskirche), where there will be concerts by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band with Nik Bärtsch’s group, and a trumpet and organ duo of Wadada Leo Smith and Alexander Hawkins.

The full text of the Press Release is as follows

From 1 to 6 November, Berliner Festspiele will host the 53rd Jazzfest Berlin in an “extended version”, including two preview events. There will be performances by a total of 16 jazz ensembles and five duo combinations, some of them completely new. Many projects presented at Jazzfest Berlin 2016 will be developed specifically for the festival and will be performed there for the first time.

Richard Williams:
“Jazz is always a conversation, even when it’s just one musician talking to himself. The sense of dialogue is vital to the music’s sense of spontaneity and exploration, and this year’s festival features many musicians encountering each other on a concert platform or a club stage for the first time, ranging in scale from some of the duos at A-Trane and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church to the collaboration between Nik Bärtsch’s group and the hr-Bigband on the main stage. It’s a conversation with the audience, too, which I hope will become particularly apparent in the special performances that prompted us to apply the title of Jazzfest extended to this year’s programme.”

Many of the musicians invited to Jazzfest Berlin 2016 hail from the US: Jack DeJohnette, Mary Halvorson, Julia Holter, Steve Lehman, Myra Melford, Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, Matana Roberts and Wadada Leo Smith. They will be met by a wide variety of artists influenced by European jazz, and in particular by musicians from Berlin’s jazz scene, which will once again make a significant mark on this year’s festival edition.

The Globe Unity Orchestra, which had such a profound impact on the course of jazz after its debut at the festival in 1966, returns home to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its foundation with new music prepared by its leader, Alexander von Schlippenbach, and soloists including the trumpeter Manfred Schoof and the saxophonist Evan Parker. The singer Michael Schiefel will present a new version of Hanns Eisler’s Hollywood Songbook together with the Wood & Steel Trio. The American singer Julia Holter brings Berlin into play, giving a performance with a string ensemble consisting exclusively of musicians from the city. The Berlin-based pianist Julia Hülsmann and her quartet will encounter the 26-year-old saxophonist Anna-Lena Schnabel from Hamburg – another premiere at this festival, for which all five musicians have written new pieces. At the A-Trane, four jazz musicians will enter into unprecedented duets following the principle AB-BC-CD, all under the title of “Brooklyn-Berlin Conversations”: guitarist Mary Halvorson will play with saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, who will meet Berlin pianist Aki Takase on the next day, who will in turn finally enter into a musical dialogue with saxophonist Charlotte Greve.

Matana Roberts, one of this year’s recipients of a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in the US, and the only musician invited to perform at the opening of the new Whitney Museum in New York, will present a new project in a new setting involving again Berlin based musicians – details to be announced later in the summer. Apart from the already mentioned saxophonists of the younger generation – Charlotte Greve, Ingrid Laubrock and Anna-Lena Schnabel – young Norwegian saxophonist Mette Henriette will come to Berlin with a large ensemble, to present the music from her acclaimed debut album live for the first time. The saxophonist Steve Lehman, also an active composer, will perform his jazz with spectral music influences in the form of an octet. The Polish-born saxophonist Angelika Niescier and German pianist Florian Weber founded a new quintet with three musicians from New York, among them the trumpeter Ralph Alessi. The saxophonist Joshua Redman will perform together with pianist Brad Mehldau. Their careers have been closely linked ever since they went on a European tour together at the beginning of Mehldau’s career.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church during the 2015 Festival
Photo credit: Camille Blake/ Berliner Festspiele

There will be opportunities to see a wide variety of pianists at the festival, both in familiar and in unusual combinations: The adventurous Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch will present a new programme together with the hr-Bigband and his regular small group, Ronin. Eve Risser, born in Alsace and based in Paris, will introduce her White Desert Orchestra and present the programme of their first album, that will be released on CD in November. Myra Melford will travel to Berlin from the US with her quintet, Snowy Egret, and a videographer, performing pieces inspired by the word of the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. The pianist Achim Kaufmann, who received the Albert-Mangelsdorff-Award at Jazzfest Berlin 2015, will present the project Skein extended for eight musicians created especially for Jazzfest Berlin. Another impressive performance of last year was given by Alexander Hawkins from Britain as the pianist of drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo’s quartet. This year, he will exploit his skills as a trained organist in a concert with the distinguished trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith at Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Wadada Leo Smith, who received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his music last year, will also be performing new music with his Great Lakes Quartet on the main stage of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

Once again, the Side Stage at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele will be the venue for late-night journeys to the fringes of jazz, with concerts by the Finnish band Oddarrang, the British-Bahraini trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and Family Hafla, her seven-piece band, as well as Swiss singer Lucia Cadotsch and her Berlin-based trio.

The central venue for Jazzfest Berlin 2016 will once again be the Haus der Berliner Festspiele with its main auditorium and the Side Stage. Further concerts will take place at the A-Trane jazz club, at Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and at Maison de France.

All branches of the federal public broadcasting company ARD as well as Deutschlandradio will again accompany the festival in live broadcasts. All concerts will be recorded and broadcast by the stations after the festival.
Ticket sales for Jazzfest Berlin 2016 will begin on Monday, 26 September.

Press Release ends.

LINK: Sebastian's Round-Up of the 2015 Festival for Telegraph online

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