Jazzfest Berlins nya konstnärliga ledare Nadin Deventer i intervju

Kuratorn och projektledaren Nadin Deventer tar över som ny konstnärlig ledare för Jazzfest Berlin.

Jazzfest Berlin 2018 hålls denna vecka mellan 1-4 november, festivalen har sedan den startade, (i början som ”Berliner Jazztage”) 1964 räknats till en av de viktigaste festivalerna i Europa under vinterhalvåret.

Genom åren har namnkunniga musiker och kulturpersonligheter som Joachim-Ernst Berendt (1964-72), George Gruntz (1973-94), Albert Mangelsdorff (1995-2000), Nils Landgren (2001, 2008-11), John Corbett (2002), Peter Schulze (2003-07) och Bert Noglik (2012-14) varit konstnärliga ledare för festivalen. Den brittiska musikjournalisten och Melody Maker-skribenten Richard Williams har sedan 2015 varit ansvarig i nära team med Deventer som varit produktionsmanager.

Williams avslutade sitt uppdrag med förra årets festival och Deventer tar nu alltså över det konstnärliga ansvaret helt på egen hand.

OJ:s Patrik Sandberg fick en pratstund med den nya ledaren och hennes visioner inför årets upplaga som blir den 55:e i ordningen.

Här kommer intervjun i sin helhet. Den publicerades i original på Europe Jazz Network och är därför på engelska.

Jazzfest Berlin’s core themes for 2018 are Chicago, Afrofuturism and how jazz came to Europe. Your priority if i understand right is to open up to a new audience while integrating political issues? Tell me more about that integration. Cult avant-garde jazz ensemble Art Ensemble Of Chicago is performing this year for example?
– In too many countries in the Western world, we are experiencing new nationalist and populist tendencies that are changing the political and social climate and discourse in a dramatic way. I am very concerned about this shift against our liberal and open society and so are a lot of artists and musicians in Europe and the US. Jazz used to be a highly political art form of empowerment and freedom of African American culture and identity. This year’s festival edition is reflecting this by putting a spot light on two visionary figures with James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters and Roscoe Mitchell, the AACM in Chicago and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. They will be joined by Nicole Mitchell and Moor Mother, two strong voices of the present afrofuturist movement. Chicago with the AACM  is strongly connected to this discourse and we are very happy to welcome 7 projects from there including new faces and names like Jamie Branch and a commission by Rob Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra, bringing together musicians from Chicago and Berlin. By the way, do you know who opened the first Jazztage Berlin in 1964? It was Martin Luther King himself…unfortunately, his fight for an equal, open, divers and liberal society haven’t lost its relevance yet.
Are there any other themes or a red thread you will work towards this year as you stand alone as artistic director? First day of the festival for example includes a 7 hour program?
– We will also feature 15 projects from 10 countries in Europe and celebrate with our Haus of Jazz a special opening of the Festival feat. 10 projects spread through our theatre for seven hours as you said. We are creating a little festival cosmos with a certain dramaturgy throughout the four days and would like to open the festival, the Haus der Festspiele, our main venue, and make it accessible for new discourses and musical experiences by floating around between 5 stages. The Berlin based KIM collective will create its so called underworld beneath the main stage with a 360 degrees multi channel installation and produce some soundscaping from the music played on the upper stage.
Tell me how your close work with Richard and your role as production manager developed up until today the three years you worked together?  -Is the musical orientation similar as previous years you would say?
– It is a big advantage for me that I already knew the Festival and its inner structure within the Berliner Festspiele. With Richard Williams, we were thinking a lot together about the Jazzfest for three years, its history and present role within the city and the world. I am very happy that he opened the Jazzfest Berlin for gender balance in the year 2016 so that we can continue this now. I am still learning a lot, I think that the diverse projects that I have been involved in within the last 15 years have a big impact on the way that I am thinking and making a festival: I want to involve the city and its musicians, believe in collectivity, challenges and partnerships, try to tell a story with a festival by defining some topics and new works and try to create a space to dance, party and think together.
Last year at Jazzfest Berlin Tyshawn Sorey was the festivals first Artist in Residence, this year the in demand guitarplayer Mary Halvorson (US) is the festival’s second Artist-in-Residence. What´s her role at this years festival?
– Mary Halvorson is one of the most inspiring musicians of her generation and a unique voice in the guitar world. She’ll present three musical projects including one with musicians from Berlin, she’ll give a workshop at the Jazzinstitut, an artist talk and the musicians of her octet will meet the musicians of Kim Myhr’s septet from Norway during our concerts in a living room, hair dresser and galerie on our melancholic Sunday morning.
Tell me a little bit more about the exciting project: London- Chicago – Berlin featuring Nubya Garcia and Makay McCraven at the new venue Prince Charles in Kreuzberg.
– This is our festival satellite and a cooperation with a local partner Jaw family including these wonderful bands from London and Chicago and a third set including Berlin based musicians. They will be joined by three fantastic DJs from Chicago, Amsterdam and Berlin until 7 am.
A lot of festivals struggles with the problem to attract the younger audience. How do you work to reach that group?
– By creating an open festival cosmos, a divers festival programme, a balance between established and younger artists having different musical backgrounds, by questioning and challenging structures, yourself and the audience and artists and risk taking by creating also new projects; also very important is an authentic communication which I always think together with the programming: How to tell your story? We created not only the 5 topics incl. some special, immersive events, talks, installations, films, dancing, walks etc. but also a dramaturgy from the Haus of Jazz to the Friday Blast; from the the Hyperactive Saturday finally to the Melancholic Sunday…
As I understand 15 new organizations working in partnership with the festival for the first time this year, including organizations in Norway, Belgium, Poland, UK and US plus a few new partners in Germany? How and why did that came about?
– The collaborative spirit has always been very important for me, to involve others and create relevance together. I have been on the board of the Europe Jazz Network for the last 6 years and am very blessed to have a quiet international and divers network.

Patrik Sandberg

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