Jazzfest Berlin 2021: Scenes of Now

4 to 7 November 2021

CairoSão Paulo and Johannesburg: After a digital New York-Berlin edition in the first year of the pandemic, Jazzfest Berlin 2021, in its fourth year under the artistic direction of Nadin Deventer, traces the paths of improvised music to three more cultural hubs – with live concerts in Johannesburg and Berlin, newly created video contributions and an additional programme to each focus, available online from mid-October as a digital guide. 

As part of the live programme in Berlin, further 22 acts by musicians from Europe and of the New York and Berlin avant-garde can be experienced at silent green, the Pierre Boulez Saal and the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church. In the continuation of the Jazzfest Berlin Radio Edition, four concert videos will be produced at ARD public broadcasting studios and one live event in Berlin. Almost all 40 festival productions of the 58th edition of Jazzfest Berlin will be recorded by ARD and Deutschlandradio and partly broadcast live. On ARTE Concert and Berliner Festspiele on Demand the festival will again be available free of charge in a live stream and then later in full on demand.

Together with with the co-curators – Maurice Louca for Cairo, Juliano Gentile and Manoela Wright for São Paulo, and Jess White for Johannesburg – the Jazzfest Berlin team has developed a diverse programme of pre-produced and live concert formats that showcase the musicality, innovative power and affinity with interdisciplinary experimentation of the respective creative music scenes as well as the specific places they occupy in between a global jazz canon and their own region’s rich musical heritage. In addition to live concerts by Maurice Louca, Mariá Portugal and Nduduzo Makhathini, who are in Berlin for the festival period as formative figures of these scenes, most of the musical programme for these city partnerships can be experienced in the form of video works and live streams due to the state of the pandemic varying from country to country.

For the fulcrum of a hybrid, decentralised festival concept a multiscreen environment was created in the Betonhalle at silent green, four screens that can be used independently, surrounding the auditorium. That will function as a creative playing field for audio-visual commissions from São Paulo – including contributions by Negro Leo and Quartabê – and as digital windows onto the live events at Sognage in Johannesburg, where South African musicians, such as Sibusile Xaba and Siya Makuzeni will play in front of a live audience on Friday and Saturday night. Alternating with the performances of Koma Saxo, Japanic or Ahmed, among others, on the stage of the silent green Betonhalle. The concerts will each be broadcast live and via multi-channel to the other venue. Contributions from Cairo include the premiere of a film project by multi-instrumentalist Nancy Mounir and a video work by Philip Rizk in co-operation with musicians from the Cairo experimental scene, including Nadah El Shazly.
The imposing interior of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church will be brought to life with music with Nate Wooley’s “Seven Storey Mountain VI”, Maria Faust & Sacrum Facere’s “Organ” and an organ solo from Ståle Storløkken. In a first ever co-operation with the Pierre Boulez Saal, the focus on the opening night will be on the piano: American pianist Vijay Iyer will perform in a triple bill that also features Kaja Draksler from Slovenia and the Swedish Bobo Stenson. Other pianists will perform in the following days of the festival: Pat Thomas from London, the South African pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, the New York-based Swiss Sylvie Courvoisier, the winner of the Jazzpreis Berlin 2021 Hannes Zerbe and the pianist Aki Takase, who is highly esteemed not only in Berlin and who will be awarded this year's Albert-Mangelsdorff Prize for her life's work during the festival.
The Jazzfest Berlin Radio Edition continues a pattern of co-operation established last year dedicated to the impressive variety of jazz in Germany. In collaboration with ARD public radio and its radio concert halls, this year the festival presents five exciting projects from Berlin, Bremen, Freiburg, Cologne and Munich. 

All information about the program and the artists of the festival is now available on the website of Jazzfest Berlin