Jazzfest Berlin 2018: Musical Parallel Universes and Collective Visions

The Berliner Festspiele has now released the entire programme for the 55th Jazzfest Berlin under Nadin Deventer’s new artistic direction. The festival explores new paths with its innovative formats, countless premieres, topics and new collaborations.  The accreditation commences on 6 September, ticket sales start on 8 September (2 p.m.).

On the four festival days that make up the 2018 Jazzfest Berlin (1 to 4 November), approximately 200 musicians from about 15 countries will occupy the Haus der Berliner Festpiele and four other venues in a whole array of formations. With 35 concerts and 12 further contributions, the programme starts with a glimpse of the beginnings of jazz in the USA and Europe and stretches to contemporary voices. 

Among the 35 acts are a total of eight world premieres and new productions. Eleven further bands celebrate their Germany premiere, Berlin-based artists take part in no less than twelve projects and female musicians play a leading role in a total of 15 formations. Guests include Mary Halvorson as artist-in-residence, Irreversible Entanglements, the Ceccaldi Brothers, Jazzmeia Horn, Nicole Mitchell, Jason Moran, KIM Collective, Tin Men and the Telephone, Jaimie Branch, Bill Frisell, Kim Myhr, Rob Mazurek, Tania Giannouli, Makaya McCraven & Nubya Garcia, Maria Faust & Kara-Lis Coverdale as well as The Art Ensemble of Chicago with Roscoe Mitchell. 

The festival has placed a strong emphasis on new spaces for encounters as well as new productions and invites the audience to experience concerts in extremely varied contexts, to attend discussions, workshops and films. Dramaturgically, the four festival days each take place in a different universe. 


The festival programme sets various regional and thematic focuses. 17 projects from 12 countries represent an aspiring European jazz scene in all its vitality and diversity.Chicago can be experienced as a highly developed centre of creative exchange and collective togetherness in seven acts. The emancipatory historiography of African American music, which speaks of suppression and racism as well as liberation and empowerment in equal parts, is illuminated from historical perspectives and variations through to contemporary Afrofuturism.


The first two festival days are off to a flying start with a large number of musicians from both the very heterogeneous scenes in Chicago and Berlin: on Thursday, 1 November the grand opening takes place in the form of the “Haus of Jazz”, which features 10 acts and a number of Germany premieres on all levels of the Festspielhaus. Nicole Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble open the evening on the grand stage and Berlin-based KIM Collective creates an “UN(TER)ORT” on the lower stage – a 360° multichannel live-sound installation. Running parallel, six bands put on a diverse music cosmos on three stages before the evening wraps up with the opening piece of Rob Mazurek’s “Exploding Star International: Chicago-Berlin” on the grand stage.


The Chicago wind continues to blow stormily now and then on Friday, when Moor Mother, poet and spoken word artist, and legendary pioneer Roscoe Mitchell take the grand stage at the Festspielhaus with their respective projects and enter a musical dialogue with The Black Drop as a duo for the first time. Digital improvisationalready starts on Saturday at noon at a family concert at the Festspielhaus before the grand stage is prepared for an evening concert featuring young singer Jazzmeia Horn and the WDR Big Band and for the commissioned audiovisual work Jason Moran – The Harlem Hellfighters. European explorers are invited to conquer the Festspiele’s side stage, the A-Trane and Quasimodo on Friday and Saturday nights – and because Berlin nights are known to be long, they are invited to a Berlin-Chicago-London Special at Prince Charles, an event promising to last until the wee hours.


Sunday morning promises to be quite a bit more reflective and contemplative with a musical neighbourhood walk, an exhibition visit and a silent lunch (Specials) before works by Maria Faust and Kara-Lis Coverdale fill the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with sounds influenced by Estonian church music. In her capacity as artist-in-residence, guitarist Mary Halvorson from New York performs in various formations. At the end of the festival, her octet plays the grand stage, performing in Europe for the first time. Joining them are Bill Frisell and Norwegian sound artist Kim Myhr, two further extraordinary musicians who wrap up the festival most atmospherically after 45 musical, participatory, discursive reflective and artistic contributions.


Commissioned Works & Premieres
ABACAXI // Exploding Star International: Chicago-Berlin // Halvorson / Saito / Allbee / Dahlgren // Jason Moran – The Harlem Hellfighters // Kara-Lis Coverdale: Shadow Encounter // KIM Collective – UN(TER)ORT // melting pot: made in berlin // Moor Mother & Roscoe Mitchell: The Black Drop

Germany Premieres 
Art Ensemble of Chicago (Berlin Special 2018) // Hamid Drake & Yuko Oshima //Julien Desprez & Rob Mazurek // jaimie branch: Fly or Die // Kim Myhr: You | me //Maria Faust: Machina // Mary Halvorson Octet (European premiere) // Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble // Tania Giannouli Trio // Théo Ceccaldi “Freaks” //WDR Big Band feat. Jazzmeia Horn

Germany Premieres of Albums 
Bill Frisell: Music is // Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings // Tin Men and the Telephone: World Domination Part One: Furie // Thumbscrew: Ours & Theirs(European premiere) // Trio Heinz Herbert: Yes

Projects involving the Participation of Berlin-Based Musicians
ABACAXI // Art Ensemble of Chicago (Berlin Special 2018) // Berlin-Chicago-London Special // Elias Stemeseder // Exploding Star International: Chicago-Berlin //Halvorson / Saito / Allbee / Dahlgren // Jason Moran – The Harlem Hellfighters //KIM Collective // Kim Myhr: You | me // Maria Faust: Machina // melting Pot: made in berlin // Ragtime


All 2018 Jazzfest Berlin concerts will be recorded by the ARD-Rundfunkanstaltenand Deutschlandfunk Kultur and partially broadcast LIVE. 
Jazzfest Berlin on the Radio 


New Partnerships and Cooperations: 
Berlin: Berlin Mondiale // J.A.W Family // Julia Stoschek Collection Berlin // KIM Collective // Parallelwelten // Silence Project
Cologne: Academy of Media Arts Cologne
International: 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions (UK) // Handelbeurs (Belgium) // Jazztopad (Poland) // John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts (USA) // nasjonal jazzscene (Norway) // Serious (UK)

Jazzfest Berlin is member of Europe Jazz Network and Keychange.


The main venue of the 2018 Jazzfest Berlin is the Haus der Berliner Festspielewith its many stages, A-TraneQuasimodo, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the Prince Charles in Kreuzberg.


Public press conference on Tuesday, 30 October 2018 
with Thomas Oberender (director Berliner Festspiele)
Nadin Deventer (artistic director Jazzfest Berlin)
Festival partners and musicians participating in the 2018 Jazzfest Berlin


Jazzfest Berlin: 1 till 4 November 2018
Further information www.berlinerfestspiele.de/jazzfest
Jazzfest Berlin on Berliner Festspiele Blog