PREVIEW: WDR3 Jazzfest 2018 (1-3 February, Gütersloh and Bielefeld, Germany)

Theater Gütersloh – the main venue for the 2018 festival
Photo credit: WDR3 Jazz Fest
The WDR3 Jazzfest takes place this year over three evenings 1-3 February. The Festival’s Director, and head of the Jazzredaktion (editorial team) at WDR3, Dr. Bernd Hoffmann, spoke to Sebastian about some of the concepts behind this year’s programme, and the long-term way in which the broadcaster supports the cohort of WDR Jazz Prize winners:

WDR, the Cologne-based broadcaster serving the Northwestern region of Germany, has a festival each year of which the ceremonial, celebratory centrepiece is the WDR Jazz Prize Concert. And what is always worth celebrating is the fact that the broadcaster doesn’t just hand out these prizes and walk away. It gets involved with its the cohort of prize-winners for the long term, and that support is a decisive factor in helping these musicians to become visible on the national and international stage. WDR supports jazz by taking the longer view of jazz musicians’ careers. It is hard to think of any organization in the world which does this better than WDR.

Last year, previous prize-winners such as Pablo Held and Steffen Schorn were given opportunities to develop new projects, this year it is Florian Weber, for example, whose work with trumpeter Markus Stockhausen has flourished into an ECM duo album, who will be there with a larger project. Also pianist Sebastian Sternal. Other prize winners, Hubert Nuss and Jürgen Friedrich, will be presenting work at the club in Bielefeld.

We (LJN) will be covering the WDR Jazz Prize Concert separately, but one of the prize winners, saxophonist Roger Hanschel, is worth mentioning as an important figure on the Cologne Scene. He will perform as a duo with the Music Cultures prize-winner, the Chennai-born percussionist Ramesh Shotam. The talented bassist and composer Hendrika Entzian has been mentored by Vince Mendoza who champions her work.

The Festival’s logo
Dr. Bernd Hoffmann was also relishing the fact that the jazz piano is a major theme this year.

Michael Wollny and his fellow trio members are bringing a wholly new project with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble for its only appearance in Germany – there is an album involving this combination for release later this year but this is wholly new music.

Alan Pasqua
His work will feature in a trio with Peter Erskine
and in newly commissoned big band arrangements by Vince Mendoza
Photo: artist website
Alan Pasqua will be there in two contexts: re-joined by Peter Erskine in a trio with John Goldsby, and also performing the premiere of completely new arrangements of his compositions by Vince Mendoza for Big Band. It was Peter Erskine who originally brought Vince Mendoza together with the WDR Big Band for what has proved to be a highly successful long-term collaboration, and this renewal of friendships will be a celebration.

Hoffmann also talked through the innovations and the technical challenges involved in 2018. “This year, alongside the two stages at the main theatre we have a club involved. And the viewer on the internet will be able to follow the action from one stage to another and experience almost the whole festival live from one concert to another. While one stage is being re-set the viewer will be at a concert somewhere else. Three concerts on Thursday, three on Friday and five on Saturday.”

There will be a huge selection to watch – links below – even if the Prize Concert itself is not being streamed.


The stream on Friday will not have the Prize Concert but deferred relays of  CCJO and Jean-Paul Bourelly.

The stream will be live on Thursday from 20:00 until about 23:30, on Friday from 20:00 until about 23:30 and on Saturday from 20:00 until about 01:00 on Sunday morning.




Lena Jeckel of the award-winning club Bunker Ulmenwall in Bielefeld
Concerts from the club will form a part of the festival for the first time
Photo courtesy of WDR


Thursday 1 February

18:30 – Theater Gütersloh, Theatersaal

Cologne Contemporary Jazz Orchestra
Marko Lackner – composer

20:00 – Theater Gütersloh, Theatersaal

Alan Pasqua Trio
Alan Pasqua – p; Peter Erskine – dr; John Goldsby – b

21:00 – Bunker Ulmenwall – Bielefeld

Jürgen Friedrich “Nautilus”
Jürgen Friedrich – p; Hayden Chisholm – sax; Robert Lucaciu – b; Philipp Scholz – dr

22:00 – Theater Gütersloh, Theatersaal

Alan Pasqua with the WDR Big Band
Vince Mendoza – dir; Alan Pasqua – piano

24:00 – Theater Gütersloh, Studiobühne

Jean-Paul Bourelly “Kiss The Sky”
Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals Kenny Martin – drums; Daryl Taylor – bass

Friday, 2 February 

14th WDR Jazz Prize Concert 8pm Theater Gütersloh

Composition Prize-: Hendrika Entzian (bass)
Improvisation: Roger Hanschel
Music cultures: Ramesh Shotham
Youth: Young 7Teen Jazz Orchestra
Prize of Honour: Bunker Ulmenwall

LINK: Full Details of all five 2018 Prize Winners (in German)

21.00 – Bunker Ulmenwall – Bielefeld

Sternal Trio Sebastian Sternal – p; Larry Grenadier – b; Jonas Burgwinkel – dr

Saturday, 3 February

18:30 – Theater Gütersloh, Theatersaal

Andreas Heuser Trio
Andreas Heuser – guit; Claudio Puntin – cl; Markku Ounaskari – dr, perc

20:00  – Theater Gütersloh, Theatersaal

Timo Lassy Band Timo Lassy – ts; Georgios Kontrafouris – p; Antti Lötjönen – b; Teppo Mäkynen – dr; Abdissa Assefa – perc

21:00  – Bunker Ulmenwall – Bielefeld

Hubert & Ludwig Nuss Hubert Nuss – p; Ludwig Nuss – tb

22.00  – Theater Gütersloh, Theatersaal

Michael Wollny Trio
Norwegian Wind Ensemble

24:00 – Theater Gütersloh, Studiobühne

Wild Life
Simon Stockhausen – keyb, electronics, sax; Florian Weber – p; Jörg Brinkmann – vc, electronics; Michelangelo Flammia – eb; Christian Thomé – dr, electronics; Bodek Janke – perc; Markus Stockhausen – tp, flh, electronics, direction.

Sebastian will be reporting from the Festival as the guest of WDR

LINK: The WDR Jazzfest 2018 on the WDR website

Categories: miscellaneous

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