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JazzFest Berlin ’09

“It Must Schwing!” and More at JazzFest Berlin ’09

JazzFest Berlin ’09, which takes place this year from November 4th to 8th, is organized around the theme: “Blue Note: 70 years.” Both founders of the renowned jazz label, Alfred Lion (“It Must Schwing!”) and Francis Wolff, were Berlin natives, and both emigrated to the United States in the 1930s.

Francis Wolff photographed the musicians and designed covers for their recordings. On view at Berlin's Jewish Museum beginning on October 30th is a large selection of these images – an ideal occasion for presenting several choice artists beneath the museum’s glass-topped courtyard, among them Texan pianist Robert Glasper, who made his Blue Note debut in 2005. Aaron Parks, just 25 years old, has also recently signed a contract with Blue Note Records. His debut album “Invisible Cinema” was greeted with enthusiasm, and won him inclusion in the elite company of the “New Jazz Visionaries” (JazzTimes).

Among the most celebrated Blue Note artists of the present is the trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard. He opens JazzFest Berlin ’09 on November 4th with a performance of his “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem For Katrina)” accompanied by the Deutsche Filmorchester Babelsberg. Julian Benedikt’s Grammy-nominated film “Blue Note – A Story of Modern Jazz” (1997) will be screened free of charge at a Sunday matinee at the Martin-Gropius-Bau. Other classic Blue Note tinged events include performances by trombonist Curtis Fuller and by Sheila Jordan, the first singer to stand in front of Alfred Lion’s microphones, accompanied by Steve Kuhn, another artist with the celebrated label.

Alongside this musical main course, Nils Landgren - the Artistic Director of JazzFest Berlin – has included some additional hors d’oeuvres in the festival menu in keeping to his time-tested motto: “show good music.” Among these is a colorful “smorgasbord” of the Scandinavian bands that have featured so prominently since the beginning of Landgren’s tenure, including the Tingvall Trio, the Ensemble Denada, Mathias Eick, and Arild Andersen.
The jazz of northern Europe finds its counterpart in South Africa's post-Apartheid generation of musicians: presented at Thursday evening’s concert will be percussionist and famed instructor Dizu Plaatjies and Afro Soul singer Lira.

New Orleans has been a source of constant inspiration For Nils Landgren, and remains close to his heart. Featured besides the above-mentioned opening event featuring Terence Blanchard is John Scofield’s Piety Street Band at the festival’s close, who follow up the Berlin “Schwing” of the preceding days by giving us a taste of their “I’ll fly away” swing.

PS. Are you familiar with the celebrated Neumann microphones?
Then your next step is the Georg-Neumann Saal of Berlin’s Jazz Institute am Einstein Ufer, the latest JazzFest performance venue – a hotbed of talent and a launching pad for creative young jazz artists.

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