n Berlin we always maintain a focus on what is happening on the local scene...which begs the question of what 'local‘ actually means. The scene here in the capital is not only huge, diverse and strongly international, it is also constantly changing and reinventing itself.
One effect of the long ‘Corona months’ has been to bring some of the disparate parts of this vast scene closer together. Bands with fixed personnel have quite often been loosened up and new groupings have emerged. For more than three decades, Berlin has been lucky to have the presence of New York-born vibraphonist and jazz educator David Friedman,
a genuine asset for the city. He was the original founder of the jazz programme at Berlin’s University of the Arts. At 76 years of age, he is still playing and shows no sign whatsoever of slowing up. He continues to be a major source of inspiration for younger musicians such as drummer Tilo Weber, pianist Clara Haberkamp (piano
) and many others. Their Generation Quartet
is one of the currently most enjoyable bands to be heard in Berlin.
The recent achievements of Sedal Serdan, Director of the celebrated Berlin jazz club A-Trane
, are really quite remarkable. He has been organising concerts on an almost daily basis since Corona began, and streaming them worldwide. How right that way of doing things was, and still is: not to allow oneself to be hamstrung, but to just keep going.
In a similar way, the team from berta.berlin have been doing the right thing, and impressively too. They have instigated and facilitated dozens of outstanding concerts in the clubs "Gretchen" and "Donau 115"
. These included a performance by singer Natalia Mateo‘s new band N
EO, which was just fabulous to see and hear.
Of the live events I have attended in the past few months, the one that affected me most was a concert by singer Rabih Lahoud‘s band Masaa
for Deutschlandfunk Kultur at the Berlin Funkhaus. It was poetic, expressive and really touching. Even though one may not understand the Arabic being sung, Rabih Lahoud and Masaa take us on a fantastic journey in sound.
A further discovery for me has been charismatic Mozambique-born vocalist Natalie Greffel.
Her range of expression is massive, her voice is full of character, and her current album "Para Todos" (Agogo Records) is superb.