Two current trends on the jazz scene can be observed at this special evening of Beethoven in the Philharmonie Berlin: on the one hand, the rediscovery and meaningful implementation of classical music beyond earlier crossover or third stream paths – which is only logical in light of the fact that most young jazz musicians first train classically. On the other, a renewed appetite for large ensembles, thus tying into the big band era, which ended in the 1940s and 1950s more for economic reasons than artistic ones.
Trombonist Roman Sladek’s Munich Jazzrausch Bigband is a perfect example of both. Founded only five years ago, it has evolved into what is currently perhaps the most successful jazz orchestra in the world with two groundbreaking techno jazz programmes, as well as with various other experiments, from a rap soul project to a [sic!] Bruckner project. In the meantime, they perform a good 120 times per season – including as headliner at many important festivals. Last year they were the first German big band to be invited to New York’s Lincoln Center, and they also toured China and Africa.
While the Jazzrausch Bigband is moving from jazz towards Beethoven, the STEGREIF.orchester from Berlin, founded by horn player Juri de Marco as an association, is moving in the opposite direction. Whether with Schubert, Brahms or their initial #freebeethoven project, which can be heard here – the 30-member ensemble is attempting to bring the symphonic heritage into the orchestral present with free arrangements that incorporate elements of other genres.
The special guest of this evening is trombonist Nils Landgren, also very well-known in Berlin, who seems predestined for this evening, not only as a prominent figure in European jazz, which also builds on its own classical tradition, but also as a big band member for many years and an experienced conductor.