PREVIEW: WDR 3 Jazzfest in Münster (Jan 28-31)

Martial Solal in 2006. Public Domain
Sebastian Scotney previews this years fourth, four-day WDR 3 Jazz Festival, which will be held in Münster, and will run from January 28th to January 31st.

There are some fascinating headliners this year, such as the veteran French pianist Martial Solal, and the NDR Big Band directed by Michael Gibbs, who will perform the material from the recent Cuneiform album In My View (REVIEWED), with a delightful bonus: Gibbs’ stunning arrangement of Eberhard Weber’s Maurizius which received its premiere at the Eberhard Weber grand 75th Jubilee concert in Stuttgart last year (REVIEWED).

The pattern is now set for the WDR 3 Jazzfest to move each year to a different town in the NRW region of Germany. Last year it was centred around the jazz club Domizil in the city of Dortmund. This year it fills a gap in Münster by creating a festival in a year when the two-yearly Münster Jazz Festival has an “off” year. Next year the festival will be back in the eye-catching modernist theatre building in Gütersloh.

WDR, based in Cologne, is one of the most committed engaged jazz broadcasters in Europe. This festival whose artistic director Dr Bernd Hoffmann is head of the station’s jazz production team, is deeply embedded into the station’s broadcasting schedules, in a similar manner to the BBC Proms.

Substantial parts of the festival are also broadcast across the federation of regional public broadcasters ARD, very much a feather in WDR’s cap. The festival has given rise to memorable performances: the set last year by Pablo Held’s Trio with John Scofield was quite remarkable in its flow – this completely compelling performance has at various been available on video.

The themes of the festival as regards programming are threefold:


2016 WDR Jazz Prizewinners (clockwise from top left): Stefan Pfeifer-Galilea, UniJAZZity,
Tobias Hoffmann, Annette Maye, UDJ, (Jonas Pirzer, Julia Hülsmann, Felix Falk), Sidsel Endresen

The WDR Jazz Prizes are generous worth EUR 30,000 spread across the four prizes. They build recognition for artists from the region, and are given at a gala evening which is the major focal point of the festival. There are three prizes for improvisation, composition, for the next generation. Each year there is also a a special prize.

This year’s winners are:

COMPOSITION: Stefan Pfeifer-Galilea (b.1961, alto saxophone)

IMPROVISATION : Tobias Hoffmann (b.1982, guitar)

NEXT GENERATION: UniJAZZity, the youth jazz orchestra of Münsterland

SPECIAL PRIZE : Jonas Pirzer, Julia Hülsmann and Felix Falk of the Union deutscher Jazzmusiker for their work in re-vitalizing the organization, and making it into an effective ;obbying presence for jazz musicians.


Steffen Schorn

Whereas many artist schemes shine a brief spotlight onto the recipients which then inevitably wanders elsewhere, what the WDR 3 Festival does is to maintain a commitment to honour, support and mirror the artistic development of previous prize-winners over the longer term.  This is the twelfth year in which these prizes have been awarded, and the result is a substantial cohort of winners. There should be more schemes which take this long term-perspective.

When I spoke to Bernd Hoffmann he drew particular attention to two new large-ensemble premieres commissioned for the festival:  Gabriel Perez has a new project with the  Cologne Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, and  Steffen Schorn has a new work with the Zurich Jazz Orch.

Two former prizewinners will be heard in small-group contexts:

– Bassist Robert Landfermann is appearing in a brand new quartet with pianist Achim Kaufmann, who recently win a major national award in Berlin, Chris Speed and drummer Jim Black –

– the classical influenced pianist Sebastian Sternal  will be in a duo with bassist and head of the jazz faculy at the Hochschule in Cologne, Dieter Manderscheid. 

 This is a guiding principle behind all the WDR 3 Jazzfests: next year’s festival  will see a premiere by the NDR Big Band and another former WDR 3 jazz prizewinner,  Niels Klein with NDR Big Band.


Sidsel_Endresen. Photo credit: Michael Hoefner/ Creative Commons

There is also a substantial presence of female artists, which will be the focus of Sunday 31st the closing day of the festival. Two further prizes will also be awarded during the festival. These are not in the gift of WDR,  but awarded at the discretion of the regional government of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen:

NRW PRIZE FOR A FEMALE ARTIST (for an outstanding European artist) : Sidsel Endresen (Norwegian Vocalist). The chair of the jury for this prize was the distinguished German pianist and ECM stalwart Julia Hülsmann.

NRW PRIZE FOR A FEMALE ARTIST (Support Bursary) : Annette Maye (clarinet/ specialist in music across culture). She has a new project with Giovanni Trovesi.



19:00 – Stadttheater Münster, kleines Haus, CCJO –  Gabriel Perez- composition/ director,  Luciano Biondini – accordion

20:15 – Stadttheater Münster, großes Haus, Martial Solal Trio Martial Solal – p; Francois Moutin – b; Louis Moutin – dr

 22:00  – Stadttheater Münster, großes Haus, Zürich Jazz Orchester & Steffen Schorn – ld

23:30 – Stadttheater Münster, kleines Haus, Jan Klare 1000 Jan Klare – reeds; Bart Maris – tp; Wilbert de Joode – b; Michael Vatcher – dr


19:00 Uhr – Stadttheater Münster, kleines Haus, Julia Hülsmann & Torun Eriksen Julia Hülsmann -piano; Torun Eriksen – vocals

20:15 – Stadttheater Münster, großes Haus: WDR Jazz Prize Concert  2016

23:30- Stadttheater Münster, kleines Haus, Robert Landfermann Quartet with Chris Speed – ts,cl; Achim Kaufmann – piano; Robert Landfermann – bass; Jim Black – drums


 19:00 – Stadttheater Münster, kleines Haus, Jazzmeia Horn Quartett Jazzmeia Horn – voc; Carlton Holmes – piano; Wolfram Derschmidt – bass; Sangoma Everett – drums

20:15 – Stadttheater Münster, großes Haus, Nils Landgren “Oh Bernstein” Bochumer Symphoniker Vince Mendoza – arr; Nils Landgren – vocals, trombone, leader; Jan Lundgren – piano; Dieter Ilg – bass, Wolfgang Haffner- drums

22:00 Uhr – Stadttheater Münster großes Haus, NDR Big Band Michael Gibbs – director

 23:30 Uhr – Stadttheater Münster, kleines Haus, Manderscheid / Sternal Dieter Manderscheid – bass, Sebastian Sternal – piano

0:30 Uhr – Stadttheater Münster Chris Speed Trio Chris Speed – tenor sax; Chris Tordini – bass; Dave King – drums


 19:00 – Stadttheater Münster, kleines Haus, NRW Female artist prize, Support bursary prize: Annette Maye’s Vinograd Express feat. Gianluigi Trovesi: Annette Maye – clarinet; Gianluigi Trovesi – alto clarinet; Udo Moll – trumpet; Janko Hanushevsky – bass; Max Andrzejewski – drums

20:30 – Stadttheater Münster, großes Haus, NRW Prize for a female European artist:  Sidsel Endresen

LINK: WDR 3  Jazzfest 2016 website  

Categories: miscellaneous

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