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Tuesday, October 31st, 2017
The festival 2017 In a world where walls are being erected and borders strengthened every day, jazz exists to remind us of a simple lesson: that people and societies are at their best when they work together in a spirit of openness and inclusion. The first jazz records were made in 1917, and over the past century the music has provided a continuing example of development through collaboration, not just between individual musicians but between apparently disparate cultures. In 2017 Jazzfest Berlin will demonstrate that this music, while retaining its precious African American core, welcomes all those, whatever their origins, who respond to a spirit that celebrates the right to be different, to challenge orthodoxies and to find ways of working with others. For the first time in its 54 years, the festival has an artist in residence. Tyshawn Sorey, the New York-based composer, drummer and bandleader described by Alex Ross in the New Yorker as “an extraordinary talent who can see across the entire musical landscape”, will be heard with his regular trio and in new combinations with musicians from the Berlin scene. The programme includes specially commissioned large-scale pieces from the American trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, the Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, and the Norwegian composer Geir Lysne, conducting a world premiere with the NDR Bigband. This is the third and final year of the festival’s first British curator. Since it now appears probable that at some time in the future Berlin and London will no longer be part of the same European community, it seems right that in 2017 the musicians of the two cities make the case for cultural co-operation by joining forces in previously unheard combinations for three nights in the intimate setting of A-Trane. They and the 150 or so other musicians in this programme will demonstrate that the message of jazz is at its most valuable when it is being expressed, as Ornette Coleman once put it, “in all languages”. Richard Williams Artistic director Jazzfest Berlin Thomas Oberender Director Berliner Festspiele List of artists Ambrose Akinmusire John Beasley’s MONK’estra Nels Cline Punkt.Vrt.Plastik: Kaja Draksler / Petter Eldh / Christian Lillinger Empirical Amir ElSaffar + Zinc & Copper Heroes Are Gang Leaders Ingrid & Christine Jensen with Ben Monder Amirtha Kidambi & Elder Ones Geir Lysne + NDR Bigband Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone Shabaka & the Ancestors Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio Trondheim Voices + Kit Downes Tyshawn Sorey René Urtreger Mônica Vasconcelos