In tune with the times
In the late 90s, the term NuJazz was on everybody’s lips. Standing at the forefront of the trend was the Berlin-based DJ and producer collective Jazzanova. With a touch of Latin, Brazil, Jazz, House, Drum´n´Bass and Soul, they added their own signature to this somewhat vacuous term. While developing their style, the soundboard masters were invited all over the world to remix new versions, and in the process Jazzanova elevated remixing to an art form. Today, the group’s emphasis is not so much on finding the sample as they are the song – poised between electronic and handmade, the Berliners increasingly have moved into live performances.
Their story began in 1997, when a track called "Fedime’s Flight“ hit the European dance floors. Having honed their skills for years at the Berlin club "Delicious Donuts,” Alexander Barck, Jürgen von Knoblauch, and Claas Brieler deftly wove Latin and house into their creations and soon began releasing samples of their remixes under their own label. Together with their three producers Roskow Kretschmann, Stefan Leisering and Axel Reinemer, the trio grew into the sextet Jazzanova.
Thanks to Gilles Peterson’s broadcast of "Fedime’s Flight" on British radio, Jazzanova’s reputation spread far beyond the country´s borders, Michael Reinboth of Compost Records in Munich began collaborating with them and the Berliner’s soundboard philosophy became an international sensation. Over the years, the logical consequence of their success was a steady influx of remix contracts from the United Future Organization, 4hero, Koop, Ian Pooley, Liquid Lounge, Incognito and Ursula Rucker. Precious few of Jazzanova’s colleagues have as cleverly blended the inspired sound of the sixties and seventies as they have with contemporary musical language of house, drum `n` bass, trip- and hip-hop.
Given the quantity of remix works on their slate, it should come as no surprise that their own full-length remix album had to take a backseat. In 2002 however, they finally released their first album "In Between" and it became clear that Jazzanova ended their flirtation with Latin sounds and turned to a broad mix of stylistic forms instead. Soulful hip hop, broken beats, spoken word, spherical electronic and a bit of dub made their appearance on the debut. Over the next four years, the six musicians begin a new round of remixes, and now they can count the Blue Note label to their roster of clients, thus gaining access to the sound archives of such greats as Horace Silver and Grant Green for the "Blue Note Trip" series. The venerable bands boldly allow their sounds to collide with the works of David Bowie, Madlib and Pat Metheny.
Unpredictable as Jazzanova is, their second album "Of All the Things" (Verve, 2008) once again takes a very different path. The rhythmic backbone is all that remains of computer generated sounds, everything else is handmade along with the participation of illustrious guest musicians made of flesh and blood. The stage is gigantic: a string orchestra, background choirs, brass, members of the legendary Brazilian fusion band Azymuth, and studded with the opulent voices of Paul Randolph from Detroit, Marvin Gaye’s former colleague Len Ware, José James from Minneapolis, and Ben Westbeech from London. The almost exclusively soulful mood exudes Motown flair, you can almost hear Stevie Wonder, with hip-hop tones integrated into the mix, and Brazil and Latin reminiscences make-up the details.
Jazzanova in 2010: the group has matured into a stunning live-act band, which nonetheless continues to hone their famous DJ skills as well. And that´s why the versatile sextet can be seen on stage wearing both hats for the series LifeLines.
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(08 April 10 - 10 April 10)