In this blog article, I’ll share the best moments I’ve experienced at the Jazzfest Berlin 2022.
I ask you now, what does jazz music mean to you?
I’ve always considered jazz a form of identity able to communicate messages and recall that sense of freedom to those who had none. If I think about this, my mind goes to how jazz made its way to Germany, referring to more than just a sound but a powerful tool to fight racial beliefs.
Over the years, jazz music has become an integral part of the German identity.
And because of that, jazz culture flourished all over the country, giving birth to a new fresh scene and charming venues, one above all: Jazzfest Berlin.
This year’s edition took place from November 3th to 6th in the beautiful setting of the renovated building of the Berliner Festspiele.
Something more about Jazzfest Berlin 2022 is below.
- Music from South Africa
- The Brother Moves On
- Isaiah Collier – Interview
History of Jazzfest Berlin
Founded in 1964 as the Berlin Jazz Days, Jazzfest Berlin is one of Europe’s most renowned festivals of its kind. Indeed, Jazzfest Berlin designs a festival program full of jazz icons and young positions.
If we look back at history, the festivals took place in different venues.
The first venue of the Berlin Jazz Days was the Berlin Philharmonie, designed by Hans Scharoun, and then, from 1994 until 2000, the House World of Center.
In 2014 the Berliner Festspiele celebrated 50 years of Jazzfest Berlin.
After two Corona years with online and hybrid concepts, the music was allowed to sound again in front of physically present people, underlining the motto “Moving Back / Forward”.
Again under the artistic direction of cultural manager Nadin Deventer.
The musical journey – Jazzfest Berlin 2022
In the renovated building of the Berlin Hauspiele, jazz lovers danced, cheered and sang in the spirit of love.
Four nights of great jazz focused on three strands: the rediscovery of European folklore and regional music traditions. Then, the impact of European free jazz on the international jazz scene from European musicians. Finally, the afro diaspora focusing on the US Jazz metropolis Chicago as the origin of cosmic jazz music.
The opening night took off on the main stage with exciting figures in contemporary US Jazz. Above all, drummer Hamid Drake, New York Pianist Craig Taborn and the Johannesburg-based collective The Brothers Move on.
The weekend program offered an inspiring variety of artists, starting from Friday with Sven-Âke Johansson’s agile trio, Peter Brötzmann and outside of the Festspielhaus Immanuel Wilkins at the A-Trane Jazz club.
Then on Saturday, the Berlin debut of South African drummer and composer Asher Gamedze, Matana Roberts, and the young Chicago Saxophonist Isaiah Collier. Finally, on the final day, American guitarist Jeff Parker celebrated his Jazzfest Berlin debut.
I had the pleasure of enjoying the performances by The brother moves on and Isaiah Collier.
The Brother Moves On
If there’s one thing I will keep in mind from Jazzfest Berlin 2022, it is what Siyabonga Mthembu said: “We don’t perform. We share”.
The name The Brother Moves On is a grammatical misconfiguration of a fictional character in the American drama series “The Wire”.
The Brother Moves On’s biggest inspiration is Johannesburg.
Indeed, they’re part of a musical underground that connects London and Johannesburg, sharing music that moves you while soaking in the everyday struggles of life.
To show that, they presented the music from their new album, accompanied by the British saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael.
I felt a lot of depth; it wasn’t just enjoying fantastic jazz musicians; I heard a message behind each song. I can be summarized it in two things: positive energy and the importance of having a great sense of self-belonging.
It’s strange how everyone has certain things that surprise people; in the case of Isaiah Collier is sharing music with a different attitude.
Saxophonist Isaiah Collier represents a new generation of Chicago jazz.
In duo with drummer James Russell Sims and The Chosen Few, he created a beautiful atmosphere reminiscing jazz icons’ deep spirituality.
Speaking of it, I had the pleasure of asking Isaiah what Spiritual jazz means to him.
Isaiah Collier – Interview
“I don’t see myself pulling from just one direction. It was funny that you mentioned this. I’m a byproduct of my time. I didn’t grow up in the Bebop, Dixieland, Reggae, or Gospel era or in the eighties, but I’ve been passed down all of these great cultural aesthetics to me.
“My parents listened to all this music. My parents were around during some of these times. And to absorb but also discern that there isn’t that much of a difference. Most people try to put the labels on it, but you see, to me, it’s just for at least where I’m at in this current time and present and place, is just creative black music. What is spiritual jazz? I don’t really like that term because I believe all music is spiritual. But the question is: in the spirit of what?”
“German folk music is spiritual. The spirit of what are we speaking to, the spirit of partying? Are we speaking to the spirit of the ancestry and the special spirits that were here before new ordained religions and stuff? You look at rock & roll. It’s a spirit. And when you really listen closely, you realize John Coltrane saying the same thing as Miles Davis is saying the same thing as Kendrick Lamar saying the same thing as Chuck Berry saying the same thing as Betty Davis; there is no difference.”
It was powerful hearing Isaiah speak about music and spirituality. Honestly, it gave me a lot to think about. Outside of that, I can only tell you this: their music moved me somehow.
Thank you, Jazzfest Berlin, for allowing me to be part of a beautiful gathering, and enjoy the power of music in all its forms.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this.
I’d love to hear from YOU about the festival or your view on Spiritual jazz. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below! 👇
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Read also: Berlin Jazz Scene with Andrea Benini (Mop Mop)
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