Music & clubs

Crossover jazz

Think jazz is old and bourgie? Think again. XJazz Festival (May 4-8) tests the limits of its genre by packing local artists, 10 venues and tons of music into five days. Check out our highlights.

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Photo by Simone Gilges

The third XJazz Festival (May 4-8) returns to Kreuzberg to test the limits of its titular genre.

With a lineup consisting of 70 percent local artists, the five-day, 10-venue celebration will showcase the best of Berlin and beyond playing every style of jazz under the sun, from electronic to soul to hip hop.

Kicking off Wednesday at Watergate is Ensemble X (21:00), a collaboration of musicians from Istanbul and Berlin assembled especially for the festival.

On Thursday, check out relative newbies to the jazz scene, soulful quintet Seraleez (16:00. Coba Bar) and Parisian house DJ FKJ (20:30, Prince Charles), who prove just how varied “jazz” can be. End the night with the intense German lyrics and heavy basslines of Berlin rapper Chefket (22:30, Lido).

For straight-up jazz prowess, don’t miss contemporary legend Vijay Iyer and his progressive trio on Friday (21:00, Lido). Later that night, the Jazz Poetry Slam (23:15, Baumhaus) combines witty lyrics and a jam session with a band which takes on the mood of the words and runs with it. Need something more danceable? You can swap your usual Saturday electro-enthused night in Berlin for the beats of Global Dance Kulture (22:45, Baumhaus), which improvises jazz from around the world to create music you can actually get down to. Also that evening, look forward to the recently reunited Cymande (19:00, Bi Nuu). The group ruled British funk in the early 1970s with their laid-back rhythms and skilful guitar solos; think Hendrix’s expertise meets Marley’s attitude.

Ending the week will be electronic producer Pantha du Prince (20:00, Radialsystem, photo), debuting his upcoming solo album The Triad. The eagerly awaited record deals with the importance of human interaction in a digitalised world – a fitting round-off to a festival celebrating jamming and live music.

XJAZZ FEST BERLIN May 4–8 | various venues, full programme at