All musicians must be feeling the urge to get back on stage at the moment. The Frankfurt Radio Big Band, too, is longing to perform to a crowd, to soak up that special atmosphere that can only be born out of immediacy and interaction with your audience. Of course, nobody can say exactly what the future holds at the moment. As Olaf Stötzler, Orchestra Manager for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, comments, »We are planning for an unplannable season.«

In spite of everything, this season's selection of well-known stars and young newcomers will surely draw in anyone open to new musical experiences.

The Frankfurt Radio Big Band's 2020/21 season

The Frankfurt Radio Big Band's 2020/21 season features genres ranging from bebop to New Music, from Finnish tango to Chick Corea's jazz-rock »Return to Forever«. Artists such as Vincent Peirani, Melissa Aldana, Dhafer Youssef, Linda May Han Oh and Lizz Wright will give guest performances.

The Frankfurt Radio Big Band is dedicating two concerts to a true jazz legend: Miles Davis. He made his German début in Frankfurt 60 years ago with his own band.

hr-Bigband Saison 2020/21

In a slimmed-down edition of the 51st German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band will present an evening in the Alte Oper with the rising star among female jazz artists, Jazzmeia Horn.

Finally, sounds of finland is a joint festival with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and their artist-in-residence Pekka Kuusisto, where the Frankfurt Radio Big Band is programmed to give two concerts.

Monk and Duke, Peirani and Youssef

hr-Bigband Saison 2020/21

John Beasley is known to Frankfurt Radio Big Band audiences for his MONKestra programme, which garnered him a Grammy nomination. He now returns to Hesse with two more tribute concerts: »Monk & Duke« brings together the work of two greats of the jazz world, and scarcely a week later he takes on Chick Corea's jazz fusion in the hr-Sendesaal in a concert titled »Return to Forever«.


Following Vincent Peirani's successful début with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band in Spring 2018, the French artist now returns for three more concerts, once again working with conductor and arranger Magnus Lindgren. Lindgren is also giving concerts with the Tunisian singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef, who is known for his unique blend of Arab sounds, acoustic jazz and modern beats. Youssef eschews working with a fixed ensemble, preferring to pull together a new group of musicians for each recording. This is a perfect fit with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band's modus operandi, also tackling a new theme every time.

Whenever the two Frankfurt Radio ensembles get together, something rather special happens. Their »Forum N« concert blasts through all borders and boundaries: here we have the musical meeting of a Russian mystic, a Swiss opera director, a German modern composer and a rock musician from the USA– not to mention with a jazz band, a chamber orchestra, and a full symphonic ensemble.

The Frankfurt Radio Big Band will present its 31 projects not only in Frankfurt, but also in Giessen, Darmstadt, Heppenheim, Rüsselsheim, Weilburg, Geisenheim, Aschaffenburg, Kassel, Fulda and Bad Nauheim. They are also guests at the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Leipzig Bach Festival, the Essen and Cologne Philharmonic and the Guimarães Jazz Festival in Portugal (the concert feat. Melissa Aldana is cancelled).

Chief conductor Jim McNeely's plans

Jim McNeely

Jim McNeely's contract as chief conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Big Band has just been extended for two years with the option of a third. He is thrilled about this and also about his seven upcoming projects for the 2020/21 season with the band.

In his tenth season as chief conductor in Frankfurt, McNeely will guest perform at the Guimarães Jazz Festival (cancelled) with saxophonist Melissa Aldana, sharing the stage with her once more in the hr-Sendesaal in June 2021.

Frau mit Kontrabass

His two concerts with Australian Linda May Han Oh will surely also prove interesting encounters. This much in demand jazz bassist with Chinese roots comfortably moves in the musical space between Dave Holland and the Red Hot Chili Peppers – with a soft spot for big orchestrations.

Frau schaut in Kamera

February 2021 marks a reunion with Lizz Wright, described as »a master of unshakeable elegance, both in appearance and in song« for her Gershwin concert with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band in 2016. This time, the velvet-voiced singer is bringing her own material.

»Echoes of Ellington« was originally planned for mid-March, but this was the first of the Big Band's projects to fall to the coronavirus pandemic. A new date has been found in September to honour Duke Ellington in a double concert (Part I and Part II).

hr-Bigband Saison 2020/21

Similarly, McNeely's homage to the famous Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has also been rescheduled from last season. One last evening will be a tribute to Miles Davis, echoing his début in Germany in 1960, when he performed in Frankfurt with John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb.

sounds of finland meets Frankfurt Radio Big Band

sounds of finland

When people think of Finland, they tend to think of deserted forests, the Northern Lights, and vast lake-filled landscapes spanning the horizon. Composer Outi Tarkiainen also sees music as »a force of nature capable of flooding over mankind and changing people's destinies«. Her music will be played on both concert evenings led by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Also performing are Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra artist-in-residence this year, Pekka Kuusisto, and the saxophonist Jukka Perko.

Jazz for the next generation

Frau schaut in Kamera

Fresh Sound – New Talent is a concert series for new voices on the jazz scene. Hendrika Entzian introduces herself to Frankfurt here. Despite her alpine name, Entzian is originally from Kiel. She received the WDR Jazz Prize in 2018. Originally a jazz bassist and composer, she now regularly composes and arranges for large ensembles.

In 2019 the Big Band hosted the first edition of their conversational jazz concerts for children aged 10–14. The forthcoming »Jazz went up the river« series will teach this young audience about where jazz came from and how wide its reach is today.

The Big Band's »Fast alles über Jazz« (Nearly everything about Jazz) series also continues this year, with small ensembles of musicians visiting schools and taking over a music lesson. Schools should apply for a visit through the »Musik und Schule« network (Netzwerk »Musik und Schule). The network can also announce the well-loved Hesse school tour, which the Frankfurt Radio Big Band will now embark upon in July 2021.

The annual children's concert, which tells the story of »Peter and the Wolf« through jazz music, had also been postponed until the coming season.

Tickets and 2020/21 concert details

Concert dates for the 2020/21 season with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band are now listed on our site. Suscriptions for nine, six or three concerts of your choice are available from 1st July and include a money-back guarantee in case of cancellation.

The opening date for individual ticket sales is not yet determined and will be announced in good time on our site and

Further information will be available from 1st July at
Tel. (069) 155-4111
or by e-mail: