Jazzfest Berlin 2023: Spinning Time

The complete programme of Jazzfest Berlin was published today. Advance ticket sales begin on 20 September; accreditation will start on the same date.  
The 60th edition of Jazzfest Berlin provides a space for music that is playful and intuitive and brings together different generations in 36 projects. Coming generations are at the centre of the action right from the start: even before the festival opens, the Jazzfest ImproCamp will offer children an interdisciplinary approach to improvisation from the beginning of the second week of the autumn holidays and during the festival. And two children’s choirs from Berlin will perform in the opening of the concert programme at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele in the commissioned production “Apparitions”, which has been adapted specially for this context by the French musicians Antonin-Tri Hoang and Romain Clerc-Renaud – just one of the many world and German premieres at the festival.­
­»Jazzfest Berlin’s 60th edition launches the coming anniversary year of 2024. Instead of taking a nostalgic look back, we have chosen to draw on the spirit of the musical tradition that the festival has always represented and look at the Here and Now, to the future. As well as presenting the great virtuosos who have constantly redefined the rules of music for six decades, we will therefore also turn our attention to the coming generations and listen to the real experts on the intuitive and the playful among us: our children.«
‒ Nadin Deventer, Artistic Director of Jazzfest Berlin­­­­

­The programme of exceptional established artists from a variety of different traditions who have shaped the history of improvised music for 60 years includes the composer, saxophonist and flautist Henry Threadgill (US) with a commissioned composition for his ensemble Zooid and the Berlin line-up Potsa Lotsa XL led by saxophonist Silke Eberhard. This year’s invitation maintains the long series of artistic collaborations with leading figures from Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) that has been a regular feature of recent editions of the festival. Together with six other international co-operations involving Berlin artists, the project also epitomises Jazzfest Berlin’s identity as a platform for artistic encounters between international greats and the avantgarde of the Berlin jazz scene.

The pioneer of free improvisation Fred Frith (GB), who originally started out in experimental rock, will appear on stage for the first time in an intergenerational trio with the trumpeter Susana Santos Silva (PT) and percussionist Mariá Portugal (BR). Alexander von Schlippenbach (DE) and Aki Takase (JP) will draw on the creative storehouse of over 100 years’ together lived experience of (free) jazz history. And Andrew Cyrille (US), who made his first appearance at the Berliner Jazztagen over 50 years ago with the legendary pianist Cécil Taylor and now presents the European premiere of his duo with Bill McHenry (US), will share the closing night with two other icons: this year's Albert-Mangelsdorff-Prize winner Conny Bauer (DE), one of the GDR’s original free jazzers, who will revive some long-standing connections between the US and (East) Berlin avantgarde scenes in a trio with Hamid Drake (US) and William Parker (US), and Joyce Moreno (BR), one of the forerunners of the progressive tradition in creative Brazilian popular music, who will present a live performance of previously unpublished songs from the 1970s that she has recently released as an album “Natureza”.

Compelling evidence that female voices are far too often ignored when musical history comes to be written is also demonstrated at Jazzfest Berlin in a work by Nancy Mounir (EG) dedicated to female vocaclists in the liberal Egypt of the1920s. The vast range of the human voice can be heard in ten different projects from all around the world. In addition to Joyce Moreno and Nancy Mounir, the composer and singer Ellen Arkbro (SE) presents a deeply melancholy side of herself in her latest collaborative project with the pianist Johan Graden and the Netherlands-based composer, singer and double bassist Fuensanta (MX) brings contemporary broken echoes of the traditional sounds of her Mexican homeland together with her Ensamble Grande.

There is also a clear female influence in the broad spectrum of strong musical voices from the younger generation in this year’s programme, including the trumpeter and avantgarde jazz musician Steph Richards (CA), the collective Irreversible Entanglements featuring the spoken word artist Camae Ayewa (US), aka Moor Mother, the guitarrist Mary Halvorson (US) with pianist and composer Sylvie Courvoisier (CH) and the Natural Information Society (US) initiated by Joshau Abrams in the special Chicago feature “Sonic Dreams: Chicago” with, among others, Mike Reed (US)’s The Separatist Party and Bitchin Bajas.
Also represented in the programme are not only two of the most interesting up-and-coming free jazz saxophonists, Zoh Amba (US), raised in rural Tennessee, and Camila Nebbia (AR), now resident in Berlin but originally from Buenos Aires, as well as three of Europe’s most exciting freely improvising pianists, each with their own projects: Marta Warelis (PL), Marlies Debacker (BE) and Kaja Draksler (SI) with the German premiere of her new project “matter 100”. Meanwhile the French pianist Eve Risser (FR) presents the result of an intense exploration of music from West Africa with her Red Desert Orchestra. The creative energy of a new generation of Norwegian musicians is represented in this year’s programme by the saxophonist Marthe Lea (NO) and clarinettist Andreas Røysum (NO), who will perform the closing concert of this year’s festival at Quasimodo. 
The concert programme extends beyond the Haus der Berliner Festspiele to include the nearby venues Quasimodo and A-Trane, and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which will open its doors for the project “Ghosted” by the Australian-Swedish trio led by Oren Ambarchi (AU).

The artists’ talks and film presentations in the supporting programme as well as the digitally published “Stories” including essays, interviews and videos (published on 4 October 2023) offer insights into the stories behind the festival.

In addition to the Jazzfest ImproCamp, which is produced by Jazzfest Berlin in collaboration with the German Jazz Union’s Jazz Pilots, an exchange with musicians from Jazzfest Berlin 2023 will be offered to students of the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin and the University of the Arts, especially the joint Jazz Institute Berlin, as part of the seminar “Artistic Leadership”.

The Jazzfest Berlin 2023 concerts will be recorded by ARD and Deutschlandradio and either broadcast live or with a time delay. Once again the ARD JazzNacht will extend from Saturday to Sunday of the festival: with live broadcasts of festival events from 20:00 h followed from midnight to 6:00 h in the morning from the rbb studio by a programme of concert recordings and interviews from earlier in the festival.

Video content of the "Stories" as well as the radio broadcasts will also be available in the Berliner Festspiele Media Library.

Jazzfest Berlin is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner  for Culture and the Media. Project funders and partners for the festival are the Capital Cultural Fund, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Quasimodo, A-Trane, the German Jazz Union, Jazz Pilots, the Hanns Eisler School of Music and the University of the Arts Berlin and also Steinway & Sons Berlin.
Media partners are Arte, Dussmann, Cee Cee, Monopol, Wall and the Yorck Cinema Group.
Jazzfest Berlin is a member of the Europe Jazz Network and the Keychange initiative.