June 25, 2024

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The bondage and jazz are mutually exclusive: I was also always moved by the political dimension of jazz: Video, Photo

Programmatic sentences seem to be a matter of politics. But also in art, in music, there are those programmatic sentences that clearly state how things should actually be. One of them comes from Duke Ellington, and it was sung by Ella Fitzgerald, among others, because this sentence is actually a song title: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”

Wandelkonzert 25 Jahre Bundesbegegnung Jugend jazzt

I’m sure, dear musicians: you swing, no matter what form you play together, and I’m looking forward to it, we’ll experience it here in concert right away.

They all took part in the most recent national youth jazz event, which actually celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary last year. The competition has become an important platform that enables young musicians to meet one another, to present themselves and, very importantly, to build networks and network with one another. How much you all love jazz here, how lively jazz is in today’s music world, that makes me, as a jazz lover, particularly happy.

I was also always moved by the political dimension of jazz, it was an emancipatory music movement from the start. The great German jazz critic Joachim-Ernst Berendt described it like no other. According to Berendt, jazz tells of freedom, individuality and equality. And the political-social interpretation of jazz culminates in Berendt’s sentence, which has something to do with the Nazi dictatorship he experienced: “Who swings doesn’t march.” Sounds good, but only partially true. Because we have the Bundeswehr Big Band as guests here every summer – I can really assure you from my own rich experience: This Big Band, which is a fantastic one, also swings in uniform.

But of course Joachim-Ernst Berendt is right when he wanted to say: bondage and jazz are mutually exclusive. Whoever plays jazz wants to be free.

To be free, but mostly not alone. Preferably part of an ensemble. Jazz musicians listen to each other, react to each other, pay attention to each other. They live their freedom together.

That’s good, but it can also be tiring at times, as we know from the great Miles Davis: his equally great collaborator in the famous Miles Davis Quintet of the late ’50s and early ’60s, John Coltrane, tended to play very long solos. Coltrane once went up to his band leader Davis and said to him, “Miles, I just don’t know how to end my solos – I have so much to say!” Miles Davis is said to have responded in a rather dry and – fittingly – unsympathetic way : “John, if you want to finish your solo, just take your saxophone out of your mouth.”

I don’t want to interfere with you, dear young musicians, but of course I’ll stick to the strict master Miles Davis, because what applies to saxophonists should also apply to speakers and microphones: I’ll just end my greeting. They came not to hear long speeches, but to enjoy jazz.

And like you, I’m looking forward to the music of Cactus in a Garage, the Funky Friends, Quartertone and Tim Pan Laurie, I’m looking forward to your compositions, interpretations and your solos – also longer – tonight.

Musikerinnen und Musiker spielen ein Stück beim  Wandelkonzert '25 Jahre Bundesbegegnung Jugend jazzt' in Schloss Bellevue

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