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Enjoy Jazz 2018

Enjoy Jazz 2018
Henning Bolte By

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Enjoy Jazz International Festival for Jazz and More
Heidelberg/Mannheim/Ludwigshafen
October 13-15, 2018

During fall Enjoy Jazz is a major well-established event running through the metropolitan Rhine-Neckar-region (2, 4 million inhabitants) in southwestern Germany, now in its 20th year. Unlike the fast-forward conveyor belt of musical acts at many jazz festivals, whizzing past in a few crammed days,' Enjoy Jazz stretches over a period of six weeks in October and November. It means that there are never more than two or three concerts every day. It entails a complex network of local and regional cooperation. Each concert is special, and can be enjoyed and celebrated in its own right. This set-up clearly entails a different way of making choices and experiencing music, which has consequences for the programming too. Generally speaking the festival is characterized by a splendid diversity of coexisting facets of directions in jazz and neighboring kinds of music. Enjoy Jazz rests on a coalition of people from different societal areas that not only share a strong conviction that creativity, arts and culture are key factors for the productivity, stability and innovative potential of society but also distinguish themselves by their readiness to act on it.

Into the new century: 20 years of Enjoy Jazz

The festival, spread widely across the region, started in 1999 with 14 concerts in Heidelberg's Karlstorbahnhof venue just a year before the transition to a new millenium. Now, in its 20th year, it is a fully integrated and embraced institution in the three neighboring cities of Heidelberg on the river Neckar, Mannheim on the river Rhine and Ludwigshafen on the other side of the Rhine River. Heidelberg and Mannheim are both part of the federal state Baden Württemberg while Ludwigshafen is part of the federal state Rhineland-Palatia. Politically both federal states are different from most other federal states and the central state. Baden-Württemberg has a government lead by the Green Party (in a coalition with the Christian Democrats) while Rhineland-Palatia has a government led by the Social Democrats (in a coalition with Green Party and the Liberal Democrats). That means that the Green Party is the strongest political force in the region. There you find a firm local/regional identity combined with an open cosmopolitan mentality. The Ministry of Culture of Baden Württemberg has considerably expanded its jazz funding, especially for festivals.

During the past 20 years, under festival director Rainer Kern and the financial management of Christian Weiss, there have been memorable moments, extraordinary performances and recordings, including Ornette Coleman's album Sound Grammar that is based on a concert at Enjoy Jazz in 2005 and that earned Coleman the Pulitzer Prize. Coleman gave his last concert in Europe in 2008 at Enjoy Jazz. The first duo-concert of Joshua Redman with Brad Mehldau took place at Enjoy Jazz and the just released duo-album of Charlie Haden and Brad Mehldau has been recorded during Enjoy Jazz (November 5, 2007 at the Christuskirche in Mannheim, Germany).

This year Archie Shepp's famous "Fire Music," released on an album in 1965 was 'premiered' at the prestigious Nationaltheater Mannheim. Never before has it been played completely in one evening! Shepp formerly played a memorable concert alongside Yusef Lateef, Reggie Workman, Mulgrew Miller and Hamid Drake in 2012. Formerly he recalled his album Attica Blue live, paid homage to the music of his mentor John Coltrane and dedicated himself to the world of spirituals. In 2018, the now 81-year-old saxophonist will play a duo with Jason Moran, and will be guest of the Anarchist Republic of Bzzz of Seb El Zin.

Kinds of waves

This article covers three days with five concerts from the six-weeks stretch. These days went from dancing fingers to cathartic arches and from there to screaming seagulls rushing down to pass John Coltrane's music and then turning to a voluminous Big Band ride. Musicians involved were, among others: Ross Daly, Yurdal Tokcan, Anja Lechner, Pabo Márquez, Alexandra Lehmler, Michal Miskiewicz, Sebastian Gille, Luca Aaron, Elias Stemeseder, Robert Landfermann and Jim Black.

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