In his foreword to the very first Jazzfest in Berlin, Martin Luther King pointed out that jazz, in its essence, was a means to address social injustice. That was in 1964. Now entering into its sixth decade, the Berliner Festspiele event (Nov 5-8) continues to uphold the genre’s original spirit with a generation-spanning line-up of jazzers from across 30 nations.
Starting the journey right here, the 24-piece Berlin-based Echtzeitmusik orchestra Splitter Orchester premieres a piece by New York composer George Lewis (Nov 5, 19:00).
The following night, Miguel Zenón Quartet’s project Identities are Changeable lays its focus on New York’s Puerto Rican community, weaving together recorded interviews and live music onstage (Nov 6, 20:00).
Drawing from classical music and folk influences, 23-year-old UK trumpeter and composer Laura Jurd and her quartet Dinosaur curb the average age of this year’s line-up considerably (Nov 7, 23:00).
Also keeping things fresh: on Subterranean: New Designs on Bowie’s Berlin, Dylan Howe reinterprets the atmospheric instrumentals on Low and Heroes (Nov 8, 16:00, Akademie der Künste).
Ringing in the finale, the sprawling ensemble Diwan Der Kontinente creates a transnational jazz soundscape with vocals in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Turkish (Nov 8, 18:00).
Right after, Louis Moholo-Moholo, last surviving member of the legendary South African band The Blue Notes, will perform with his quartet. Providing contrast is the Oakland-based Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet, headed by the jazz trumpeter (photo) who played on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and helped underscore the #BlackLivesMatter movement (Nov 8, 19:00).