"Let your feelings and associations run free. Let them create whatever it is that you want or need from the music." This is Orchestra Manager Olaf Stötzler’s recommendation to Frankfurt Radio Big Band listeners entering the new season. With both newcomers and established stars, the season offers space to embrace new musical experiences as the Frankfurt Radio Big Band draws on musical genres from Brazilian popular music all the way to film music, from contemporary music to Duke Ellington classics.
Artists such as Joshua Redman, Melissa Aldana, Michel Portal, Philip Catherine and Roberto Fonseca will guest perform with the band. And for this year's Europa Open Air Festival on the banks of the river Wesel, organised by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and the European Central Bank, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band has invited a very special guest: Till Brönner, Germany’s most successful jazz musician, lends his trumpet artistry to a concert programme celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Euro.
The Big Band also celebrates a double anniversary in October: as they open the 50th German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt in the Alte Oper, the band also congratulates the Munich record label ECM on its 50th birthday with Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus.
Cuba 2.0, a South American trio and The Last Laugh
For the first time, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band will present two evenings of film in the hr-Sendesaal. Two years ago, the UFA commissioned experienced film music composer Manfred Honetschläger to compose music in an extended big band orchestration for Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s famous film The Last Laugh (Der letzte Mann, 1924). The band’s trombonist, who leaves the Big Band in December, will give himself a send-off to remember.
This season also marks the return of three South American musicians who have all worked with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band before: Brazilian singer Ed Motta, a true master of soul, alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón from Puerto Rico and Argentinian Big Band leader Guillermo Klein.
Tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and pianist Jason Linder made important contributions to David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. Now, the two American musicians meet again, this time in the home of the Frankfurt Radio Big Band and they are bringing McCaslin's music with them, a blend of jazz and indie pop. Linder, one of New York’s most promising big band leaders, will arrange it for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band.
As Rubén Gonzáles' successor in the Buena Vista Club, Roberto Fonseca has given over 400 concerts. The Cuban jazz pianist has also achieved musical recognition in his solo career, constantly on the look-out for new sounds and links to other musical styles. In that vein, Fonseca is putting on the Cuba 2.0 concert programme with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band in the Großer Saal at the Alte Oper.
Remembering Peter – the band commemorates the life of their long-time trombonist Peter Feil, who passed away in December 2018, with two evenings of his own compositions in the intimate setting of Radio Studio II.
The Frankfurt Radio Big Band will present a total of 30 projects in 58 concerts in Frankfurt and beyond, also performing in other cities in the Hesse region such as Giessen, Darmstadt, Rüsselsheim, Weilburg, Dreieich, Kassel, Langen, Neu-Isenburg, Fulda, Hanau and Bad Nauheim. The band will also guest perform at the Forum am Schlosspark in Ludwigsburg and at the Haus der Festspiele in Berlin.
The Frankfurt Radio Big Band at the 50th German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt
As in previous years, the Frankfurt Radio Big band will open the Jazz Festival with an impressive concert in the Alte Oper. With illustrious guests and led by Jim McNeely, Michael Formanek will present his vision for large-scale symphonic jazz in the 21st century with the Ensemble Kolossus project.
On the Saturday of the festival, there will be a world premiere entitled Melodic Ornette. From their time spent in close collaboration, pianist Joachim Kühn has around 170 of Ornette Coleman's compositions, for the most part unpublished. Kühn will arrange a selection of these for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band with Jim McNeely. Michel Portal, another great of European jazz, will also take part in the project as a soloist.
Frankfurt Radio Big Band at the cresc... Biennial for Contemporary Music
As part of the next Biennial, exploring the interrelatedness of mankind and technology under the theme Human_Machine, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band and Symphony Orchestra are joining forces on a project bringing out the martial machine-like fantasies and medieval mystical visions of John Adams’ Harmonielehre: Minimalism meets Late Romantic meets Impressionism.
The Band will also present a commissioned work by Eve Risser, a jazz musician and multi-instrumentalist. Born in 1982 in Alsace, she has played at countless jazz festivals from Austria to Great Britain and Finland. She is currently making waves in France with her Red Desert Orchestra.
Jazz for the next generation
As part of Fresh Sound – New Talent, the concert series for new voices on the jazz scene, Claudia Döffinger will be introducing herself to a local audience at the Jazz Festival at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts. A keyboard player, composer and band leader, she won the Downbeat Student Award in 2017 in the Original Composition for Large Ensemble category.
In 2019, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band trialled a new conversational jazz concert format for children aged 10–14. Now, a small ensemble of Big Band members will be taking the conversation all the way to classrooms around the region. Pupils will be able to experience the Tony Lakatos Quintet up close and personal and get the chance to ask the musicians themselves how good jazz improv works and how they found their way into the profession.
Schools in the Musik und Schule network can apply for this unusual music lesson, but other schools will also be able to enjoy listening to the Big Band, as it once again embarks on the popular Hesse Schools Tour. The genre is currently experiencing a real renaissance among young people and these seasoned musicians are bringing it to life. In February 2020, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band will be stopping in Hünfeld, Geisenheim, Breitscheid and Darmstadt.
Another event for schoolchildren is the Hesse School Big Band Competition, which will be broadcast in June. In this eighth edition, three bands will compete against one another for prize money and two recording days in the Frankfurt Radio Big Band Studio.
The Frankfurt Radio Big Band is also getting involved in ARD's music week celebrating Beethoven 2020, giving two concerts in Radio Studio II entitled Immortal Beloved Hero (Unsterblich geliebter Held).
Tickets and 2019/20 concert brochures
The Frankfurt Radio Big Band 2019/20 concert brochure can be ordered from the
tel.: (069) 155 4111 or downloaded here [PDF - 3mb].
Subscriptions for nine, six and three concerts and individual tickets are now available for purchase by phone or online. For orders and further information:
tel. (069) 155 4111 or