Organised by the Korean embassy’s Cultural Center here in Berlin, JazzKorea is paying its own respects to the anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Under the motto “Getting Closer”, this year’s edition asks listeners to cast aside preconceptions and open themselves to different forms in a nod to the period of intense artistic fertility that followed German reunification. The line-up features an eclectic mix of nascent South Korean jazz musicians, whose breadth of style and talent can go only so far in shining a light on the nation’s formidable scene. Highlights include van Plein and the Soojin Suh Chordless Quartet, whose joint performance (Nov 14, 19:00 at Kesselhaus) is just a teaser of what’s to come. The former’s infectious brand of jazz-rock is a not-so-subtle reminder that the genre owes large swathes of its hypnotic power to that elusive thing called funk. The latter, meanwhile, evoke the whorls of platinum-blue smoke rising in bustling salons. One of South Korea’s outstanding young percussionists, Soojin Suh holds together a band with remarkable cohesion, achieving the unlikely as she makes the omission of a piano sound gleeful rather than glaring. The main event comes in the form of a specially commissioned free-jazz group, with members of Berlin’s exceptional Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra (Nov 15, 20:00 at Ölberg-Kirche) performing alongside Korean guests. Daniel Glatzel, artistic director of AMEO, will lead the ensuing panel discussion (Nov 16, 15:00 at Koreanisches Kulturzentrum). Rounding out the festival are Sangjaru (Nov 16, 20:00 at TAK – Theater im Aufbauhaus). The trio’s interpretation of the traditional Korean music Gugak includes performances with Korean zithers (Geomungo, Ajaeng) and traditional percussion instruments (Janggu, Buk, Kwaenggwari) ensure the safe passage of the form into the next generation. A final encore performance by Soojin Suh (Nov 17, 21:00 at b-flat) pays its dues to the city’s many thriving jazz clubs.
JazzKorea | Various venues, full programme at jazzkorea.kulturkorea.org. Nov 14-17.