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Back to main page 29. Darmstädter Jazz Conceptions 2020!
Summer courses for jazz
The Darmstadt Jazz Conceptions, founded in 1992, have become a major German jazz workshop. The workshop’s success is based both on its concept and its unique atmosphere. Instead of masterclasses the students work in ensembles from the start and rehearse pieces chosen by the respective teacher (or composed or improvised during the week). They learn the secrets of improvisation, the planning of musical processes and arrangements, and thus the philosophy of jazz and improvised music. The workshop takes place at Bessunger Knabenschule, a former boys’ school which has been transformed into a socio-cultural center and which, for one week each year, becomes a home for jazz. During this week the music fills each room, and in between the students meet in the courtyard for breakfast or to share lunch cooked on the premises, and to chat about their experiences or plans for further musical activities.
Artistic director: Uli Partheil | piano
What are the Jazz Conceptions?The Darmstadt Jazz Conceptions workshop is a unique opportunity to work with professional musicians and to discover some of the secrets about the making of jazz. During the ensemble sessions the musicians rehearse pieces, learn about how to practise correctly, discuss the finer points of harmony, rehearse and analyze solo or group improvisation. In the late afternoons, an orchestra workshop brings most of the students together for an unusual orchestra of up to 40 instruments. Between ensemble sessions there is plenty of opportunity for individual practice with other students, or for relaxed conversation in the Jazz Conceptions’ cafeteria. Also on the agenda are also a number of theoretical or jazz-historical items (the latter in combination with an obligatory visit to the Darmstadt Jazzinstitut). Every evening, at one of the many Darmstadt clubs, students can show the results of their day’s work to an audience or just jam.
The Darmstadt Jazz Conceptions are popular not only with the participants, many of whom have been coming back for years, but also with the teachers who appreciate the creative atmosphere which fills the Bessunger Knabenschule with jazzy music for six days. At the 28th Jazz Conceptions once again we plan to invite some excellent teachers, each of whom has developed his or her own concept as a soloist or in a group, individually or collectively.
For participation in the Jazz Conceptions it is not necessary to speak perfect German, but you should have basic skills of the language. The registration formalities (below) are in German. If you need any assistance to understand, please don’t hesitate to call or email us.
If you want to apply to our workshop, please switch to the German site, where you will find an online application form.
The Jazz Conceptions are a joint project organized by the cultural center Bessunger Knabenschule and the municipal Jazzinstituts Darmstadt.
All teachers of the Jazz Conceptions since 1992
Felix Astor, Peter Back, Johannes Bauer, Harry Beckett, Han Bennink, Karl Berger, Élodie Brochier, Rüdiger Carl, Graham Collier, Marty Cook, Thomas Cremer, Christopher Dell, Erwin Ditzner, Axel Dörner, Silke Eberhard, Reimer von Essen, Johannes Fink, Jörg Fischer, Martial Frenzel, Christina Fuchs, Valentin Garvie, Peter Giger, Rachel Gould, Sebastian Gramss, Carola Grey, Michael Griener, Gerhard Gschlößl, Gunter Hampel, Gabriele Hasler, Allen Jacobson, Ute Jeutter, Nicole Johänntgen, Sven-Ake Johansson, Llewellyn Jones, Ekkehard Jost, Wollie Kaiser, Kalle Kalima,Anna Kaluza, Günter Klatt, Morris Kliphuis, Richard Koch, Hans Koller, Peter Kowald, Steve Lacy, Tony Lakatos, Detlef Landeck, Ingrid Laubrock, Christoph Lauer, Hazel Leach, Martin LeJeune, Kathrin Lemke, Rudi Mahall, Emil Mangelsdorff, Lucía Martínez, Stefan Meinberg, Krzysztof Misiak, Frank Möbus, Mani Neumaier, Angelika Niescier, Tom Nicholas, Uwe Oberg, Uli Partheil, Michel Pilz, Elvira Plenar, Wolfgang Puschnig, Gerd Putschögl, Adam Pieronczyk, John-Dennis Renken, Wolfgang Reisinger, Bertram Ritter, Michael Sagmeister, Heinz Sauer, Ack van Rooyen, Joe Sachse, Jon Sass, Uli Scherer, Ulli Schiffelholz, Daniel Schmitz, Johannes Schmitz, John Schröder, Matthias Schubert, Henning Sieverts, Thomas Siffling, Günter ‘Baby’ Sommer, Janusz Stefanski, Oliver Steidle, Norbert Stein, John Tchicai, Christof Thewes, Gebhard Ullmann, Philipp van Endert, Felix Wahnschaffe, Peter Weiss, Jürgen Wuchner … (to be continued)
The 17th Darmstadt Jazzforum which will take place from September 30 through October 2, 2021, asks about the sometimes unclear relationship between “roots” and “Heimat”, the loaded German word signifying “home”, “home country”, “home culture” and much more. Roots stands for the African-American origin of jazz that resonates even in the most advanced experiments of contemporary improvisation. Heimat stands for the fact that jazz in particular always demands a cultural and aesthetic self-localization. For some, jazz is a creative practice used globally, but always pointing back to its African-American origins. For others, jazz is something they grew up with, something that allows them to express their own concerns and individual point of view better than most other genres. For many, jazz is both, containing the African-American tradition just as much as the productive freedom to apply this practice outside of its original community connecedness.
All of that is what we want to talk about. We plan to continue discussions prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement about the idea of “Europe” which had a lasting influence on aesthetics and ethics, the presentation and the reception of jazz. We ask how a possibly Eurocentric perspective has changed and continues to shape our perception of what jazz stands for, how it connects both to the music’s African American origins and to our own individual cultural environment. Our discussions may start with the name “jazz”, we may look at historical examples of Eurocentric tendencies, and we may take into account the current discourse about the relevance of jazz in non-African American communities. We will talk about racism in jazz, reflect on how exclusion and different forms of othering are present in today’s jazz scene, and look at alternate readings of how the example of African American culture has changed and enriched the understanding of music all over the world. We won’t limit the discussion to jazz but also look at similar debates about Eurocentrism or African-Americanism in contemporary composed music or pop culture.
The Darmstadt Jazzforum is an international conference aimed at a more general than just the scholarly community. We expect papers that spur on discussions beyond the limits of jazz research, and we expect an audience of musicians, journalists, dedicated jazz fans as much as students and scholars from different fields.
Or, to be more concrete:
Thursday, 30 September 2021, from 2:00pm
How is cultural identity formed and how is its perception influenced?
On the first day of the 17th Darmstadt Jazzforum conference we will ask how cultural identity is expressed in music or how it is perceived or not perceived in music. Philipp Teriete will talk about the educational canon at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the USA in the late 19th and early 20th century and discuss the influence of this kind of music education on early jazz. Vincent Bababoutilabo emphasizes the need for perspectives critical of racism in music education today and in this country (Germany). A conversation with saxophonist Gabriele Maurer, double bassist Reza Askari, and vocalist Simin Tander [t.b.c.] will then present the very personal experiences of artists who have been affected in different ways, by skin color, family background, and/or their artistic engagement with traditions that lie outside their German homeland (moderated by Sophie Emilie Beha). We have titled this panel: “About being a stranger, arriving, yet staying a stranger. Conversation about one’s own experience of identity perception”.
Friday, 1 October 2021, from 09:30am
Cultural appropriation and national self-image (case studies)
In the morning session of the second conference day we will talk about the often very personal process of appropriation of African-American music in Europe. Philipp Schmickl will present the example of the Austrian Hans Falb, who met African-American trumpeter Clifford Thornton in Paris in 1978 and then planned concerts for and with Thornton in his hometown in eastern Austria, which eventually resulted in an internationally acclaimed festival. He questions the motivations behind Falb’s curatorial activity and relates them to Thornton’s views on music and politics of the time. Martin Breternitz and Adam Havas refer to a 2002 statement by Bruce Johnson (“Jazz was not simply ‘invented’ and then exported. It was invented in the process of its own dissemination”) and apply it to the reception of jazz in the GDR and in Hungary, which in the first case had been a long, cautious rapprochement, in the second has been very consciously drawing on cultural practices of Roma musicians living in Hungary. Finally, Niklaus Troxler, whose posters are the subject of a special exhibition at the Jazzinstitut, will talk about his own path to jazz, as a fan, as the founder and longtime organizer of the Willisau Jazz Festival, with which he was able to bring many of the musicians to Switzerland whose music he adored, and as an internationally renowned graphic artist.
Friday, 1 October 2021, from 2:00pm
“Us” and “the others”
The much-postulated “emancipation” of European jazz in the 1950s and 1960s from U.S. (and thus especially African-American) models often led to an attitude of “we have to do something of our own,” which – mostly unconsciously rather than consciously – led to the perception that jazz produced by European musicians had become something quite different from what was happening in the United States. Harald Kisiedu questions these perceptions, discusses the important Afro-Diasporic contributions to European experimental jazz and the admiration of African-American heroes that has always existed in the jazz scene, as examples for cultural creolization. Timo Vollbrecht has long been active as a saxophonist on the New York music scene, and also tours Germany and Europe with different bands. He has asked fellow musicians about their experiences with “social othering” and the exoticization of their person/art/music and, based on this, discusses possible strategies for each artist to achieve social justice in the music community. Trumpeter Stephan Meinberg asks about how to deal with one’s own privileges as a person perceived as “white” who as a professional, e.g. practicing musician furthermore works mostly with African-American music. In a roundtable with guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly, concert promoter Reiner Michalke and cultural activists Joana Tischkau and Frieder Blume, we will finally discuss what is needed to contribute not only to a change in consciousness, but also to a different representation of musicians on stage (moderator: Sophie Emilie Beha). We have optimistically titled this panel: “Get to work: change reality!!!”
Saturday, 2 October 2021, from 09:30am
Of folks and people (case studies)
Identity is on the one hand something very personal, but on the other hand it is often perceived differently from the outside than by oneself. This is the subject of the morning session of the third conference day, which collects some very specific, yet quite different examples . Nico Thom talks about Bill Ramsey, the white U.S. American who (in addition to a career in German “Schlager”) was celebrated in the German jazz scene of the 1950s as the “man with the black voice”, discussing aspects of the “Americanization of Europe, in which ‘postwar Western European societies actively participated in Americanization with strategic self-interests and skillful appropriation strategies.'” Anna-Lisa Malmros discusses the very different identities of Danish-Congolese saxophonist John Tchicai, who has also been identified with the U.S. free jazz scene at least since his participation in some of its most prominent recordings in the 1960s. Focusing on a concert at Deutsches Jazz Festival in 1978, in which saxophonist Heinz Sauer shared the stage with Archie Shepp and George Adams, Peter Kemper examines the developmental of both Shepp’s and Sauer’s musical approaches and asks about aesthetic qualities of jazz that may transcend ethnic, geographical and national identities.
Saturday, 2 October 2021, from 02:00pm
How we view the world
Each of us is responsible for our own perspective. Perspectives, however, are not a default, they can be changed. The last afternoon of the Jazzforum is about such changes of perspective. Saxophonist Luise Volkmann received the Kathrin-Preis awarded by the Jazzinstitut in April 2021, which came with a week-long residency in Darmstadt, during which she conducted research on Sun Ra, the African diaspora, the Black Atlantic, the socio-musical and political influence of music. At the same time, she met for the first time with the musicians of her latest LEONEsauvage band, which will be heard on Friday evening at the Darmstadt Jazzforum, and discussed with them subjects such as the African-American diaspora and how we as Europeans deal with it. In her own contribution and then in conversation with singer-songwriter Ella O’Brien-Coker, Volkmann will discuss aspects of rituality, our many identities and performative speech. Aylin Öz has conducted a study of how jazz is covered in German-language media. She questions the extent of reporting from a rather one-sided (mostly male, white) perspective on the perception of what is actually a far more diverse music scene. In the concluding panel, we ask what influence our own and others’ views have on our dialogue with “the world”. We have invited Constanze Schliebs, who has many years of experience as a booking agent in Germany and abroad and has also been active as a curator and festival founder in China, Sophie-Therese Hueber from the music department of the Goethe-Institut, and Sylvia Freydank from Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (Summer Courses for New Music), institutions where similar discussions have been going on for some time (moderator: Sophie Emilie Beha). And we ask somewhat provocatively, “Do we actually just export music or also our worldview?”
On Friday evening, 1 October 2021, Luise Volkmann and LEONE sauvage at Bessunger Knabenschule. (more…)
From 4 October 2021 the gallery of the Jazzinstitut shows the exhibition “Jazz Stories in Red and Blue” with posters created by Swiss artist and jazz promoter Niklaus Troxler. Some posters will be shown at the conference venue during the Jazzforum. (more…)
If you have any further questions, fee free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We do constantly publish a compilation of upcoming concerts in Darmstadt. Main venues for jazz music in Darmstadt are formost the Centralstation, the cultural center Bessunger Knabenschule, the Jazzclub Darmstadt (Achteckiges Haus) and the cellar underneath the Jazzinstitut. Since 2018 all together are annually organizing the week-long festival “dazz – Jazz Winter Darmstadt”, which is taking place in the first half of January.
Before COVID, the print version Darmstädter Jazzkalender could be taken away for free at over 100 distribution points all over the city. Meanwhile one can read all relevant information about jazz concerts in Darmstadt – here you go to a listing of upcoming concerts (sorry, only in German).
We mourn the passing of a major German musician, the center of the Darmstadt jazz scene, the initiator and artistic director of our annual workshop since 29 years, a close friend, colleague and corrective to our daily work. Jürgen Wuchner, whose name seems synonymous with jazz in or from Darmstadt, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Friday, 1 May 2020, at the age of 72.
Wuchner who had studied double bass at our local Akademie für Tonkunst, has been an active part of the Rhein-Main jazz scene since the 1960s. He collaborated with Hans Koller, Heinz Sauer, Herbert Joos, Günter Klatt, the Vienna Art Ensemble and numerous other artists, but also led his own projects from bass-focused ensembles like The Bassic Trio and several quartets through the larger United Colors of Bessungen ensemble bringing together his friends and colleagues from the region.
Wuchner’s bass playing used bluesy undertones inspired by Charles Mingus, but also experimental sounds informed by extended techniques which he regularly studied during concerts at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for Contemporary Music. His compositions were catchy; his inspirations, especially classical music, Ellington, Mingus and his years spent in Dakar, Senegal, always received a specific Wuchnerian treatment. Jürgen had been one of the most inspiring teachers we have ever encountered, encouraging literally everybody to take up, use, and play their instrument, no matter how much experience they had. He was convinced that one of the qualifications of jazzmen or women is to use the voices of musicians in a workshop ensemble, no matter how professional they sound, and create enthralling music with them. The final concert of the participants of our annual Jazz Conceptions workshop proved him right every year: Those moments when musicians of all levels of musicianship surpassed themselves were marveled at not only by the audience but also by the workshop’s teachers.
For Jürgen jazz and improvised music offered qualities of respect and understanding which went far beyond the musical. His own music, his own teachings, his general stance on the arts and on society set an example. Jürgen Wuchner was a unifying figure, not just of the Darmstadt jazz scene but far beyond. He was an artist respected by everybody in our city, beloved by his fans but also by many who probably had little idea what his music was all about. When you met him you knew that he loved people. He was authentic with every word he said, with every note he played.
We are devastated.
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