PREVIEW/INTERVIEW: WDR 3 Jazzfest. ‘domicil’ and Konzerthaus Dortmund, 28th-31st Jan 2015

In the run-up to the third WDR 3 Jazzfest in Dortmund, Sebastian interviewed (*) Dr. Bernd Hoffmann, Director of the Festival, in early January in Münster Dr. Hoffmann has been Head of Jazz at WDR since 2002. The radio station WDR3 has a higher output of jazz broadcasting every week than any other Europe.

LondonJazz News: This is the third WDR 3 Jazzfest. After Cologne in 2013 and Gütersloh in 2014, this year you are in Dortmund. I remember that last year there was a strong theme of showing the American heritage at the beginning, and then moving to show the diversity of European jazz. What is the story this year?

Bernd Hoffmann: This year is a variation on that, but with a particular emphasis on new and interesting combinations. In the old days these were often a haphazard thing without much thought behind it. Producers would just put musicians together for one recording ,and often nothing would come of it. We try to do better than that. Our experience with the Pablo Held Trio for example has gone very well. The trio wanted very much to do something with John Scofield. That collaboration has led to an album (REVIEWED HERE). We’ll be repeating that combination at 10pm on Thursday 29th.

Another combination: we have the good fortune to work with the Austran trumpeter Lorenz Raab. Working with Austrian musicians has been a strong feature because the WDR 3 Jazzfest from the start has been in collaboration with Austrian Radio O1. Lorenz Raab wants to work with the Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli and we’ve got him on the programme…

We also invited the German composer/saxophonist Niels Klein to do a song project with the Swiss singer Sarah Buechi.

Taking those together, then each evening you have a special project a special combination happening for the first time ever- after which time will tell whether it leads to anything.

LJN: Last year the festival had a memorable setting, the modernist architecture of the Gütersloh Theatre, which is a building with a really strong character. What is the set-up in Dortmund and how has it influenced the programming?

BH: I’m very pleased with the series of solo sets that we’ve planned for this year, which in part dictated by the constraint of performing on just one stage at the club ‘domicil’. It normally fits about 400 people, but we’ve had to take some places away, to accommodate our broadcasting team.

The solo sets: I received recommendations to find a slot the Slovenian pianist Kaja Drachsler from all sides. Then we will have the guitarist Nguyên Lê, he’ll be improvising to a Japanese silent film from 1926 And there’s also a solo set from Frank Woeste. He’s a very interesting German pianist who lives in France.

In addition to these solo sets we have a lovely band called Jazzpaña . It’s a jazz/flamenco project with the Cuban Ramón Valle playing piano., and Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius.

LJN: And you will be moving away from the Domicil for just one evening.

BH: Yes, for the WDR Jazz Prize evening, we move to Dortmund’s Konzerthaus. The master of ceremonies will be Götz Alsmann he does a brilliant job.

LJN: Those prizes can really help artists to get better known. Who has won them this year?

Nicolaus Simion. Photo credit: Lutz Voigtländer

BH: The winner of the Improvisation Prize is Nicolaus Simion. He was born in Romania. He then had 10 years I which he was very active on the scene in Vienna. And I have observed how since moving to Cologne – I think it was 10-12 years ago – his heritage as migrant, his Balkan tradition has brought something valuable and different to the scene here, a scene in which he has been a pro-active and energetic, and become an essential participant.

The Composition Prize winner is Tobias Wember. The first thing to say about him is that he’s very young and represents a new generation. He was a trombonist in BuJazzO (the German National Youth Jazz Orchestra). We were absolutely thrilled with the arrangements he’s done. His way of writing for big band is totally professional, but at the same time very unconventional.

For our Next Generation prize (Nachwuchspreis) we have gone to the town of Brühl. Brühl has a music school with a youth band called Curuba. We awarded the Next Generation Prize to the same music director and the same school, but that was many years ago, and he had a completely different band in those days. It’s a great school, it does a lot to develop the young people.

The Special Prize has been awarded to Michael Rusenberg the journalist. It’s for his lifetime’s work.

LJN: I know you like to cut backwards and forwards in the radio output, and that there is always a desire to experiment and to move things on technologically. In past years that desire to try new things out has given an extra sense of excitement, even danger. What will be new this year?

BH: This year it’s about live-streaming We’ll be working again with the International Film School in Cologne, and we will put each of the 10pm concerts out live on video – onto the internet. The first one will be Kirk Lightsey’s trio, amd singer Dee Daniels on Wednesday 28th

LJN: Where will the Festival go next?

BH: Next year we’ll be right here, as it happens, in this theatre, Münster. Plans for that festival in 2016 already include a project with Steffen Schorn & the Zürich Jazz Orchestra.

LJN: And after 2016?

BH: Well, from 2017, the Festival could be moving for one last time. If all goes according to plan, it will be held each year from then on in Gütersloh. We know they really want us there, but it’s not yet definite.

Dr. Bernd Hoffmann


Wednesday 28th January

20:00 Stephan Mattner BEAM
22:00 Kirk Lightsey Trio & Dee Alexander
23:30 Kaja Draksler
domicil, Konzertsaal

Thursday 29th January

20:00 Sarah Buechi/Niels Klein Wiresongs
22:00 Pablo Held Trio & John Scofield
23:30Nguyên Lê
domicil, Konzertsaal

Friday 30th January.

20:00 The 11th WDR Jazz Prizes (Presenter: Götz Alsmann)

Tobias Wember
Nicolas Simion
Curuba Jazzorchester
Michael Rüsenberg

With the WDR Big Band Köln
Konzerthaus, Saal

23:30 Craig Taborn Quartet

Saturday 31st January

20:00 Thomas Rückert Trio
22:00 Jazzpaña
23:30 Lorenz Raab Quartet
1:00 Frank Woeste (solo)
domicil, Konzertsaal

(*) The interview was done in German, this our translation:

LINKS: Concerts will be available after transmission on WDR3 Konzertplayer
Sebastian’s daily blog from the 2014 WDR3 Jazzfest
Jazz on WDR3 Homepage

Categories: miscellaneous

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