The Berliner Festspiele has just announced that the new artistic director of the Berlin Jazz Festival from the 2015 festival onwards will be the British music and sports journalist Richard Williams, in succession to Bert Noglik, who has been in charge for three years, and who is responsible for this year’s 50th Anniversary Festival, running from October 30th until November 2nd.
In the press release Thomas Oberender, director of Berliner Festspiele, says: “When it comes to the evolution of jazz, Richard Williams has kept an eye on the most varied paths of musical development over the past decades. His attitude is fresh and cosmopolitan. He comes to Berlin as a specialist who is familiar with all the jazz conventions but has nonetheless remained unconventional himself.”
Richard Williams, born 1947, was the first presenter of the BBC TV’s The Old Grey Whistle Test, and from 1973 – 76, head of A&R at Island Records. As a music journalist he has been on the staff of several newspapers, including The Times, The Independent and The Guardian, and magazines, such as Melody Maker and Time Out. For the past 20 years, while retaining his interest and involvement in music, he has also written extensively about sport. He is the author of books including The Blue Moment, about the genesis and influence of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, and biographies of Bob Dylan and Phil Spector,. Since leaving the staff of the Guardian, he has been writing a regular and influential blog about music – and in particular jazz: thebluemoment.com.
Richard Williams says: “I ask myself not what jazz was but what it is, and what it can become. For me, the Berlin Jazz Festival has always represented a platform for possibilities and provocations. The festival has a duty to continue that work by bringing the public into contact with the artistic vitality and diversity of the present day.”