A Musical Tribute to Black History Month in Berlin

On Wednesday, February 25thBlack History Month in Berlin visited Quasimodo for the second and final time in this year’s program, as the historic venue played host to a special musical tribute. A venue closely linked to the history of Black History Month in Berlin and a firm favorite for jazz and music-lovers of all ages, Quasimodo provided the perfect location for the evening, and the musical performances and reaction from the crowd ensured it was yet another memorable night.

Mark Donfried began by welcoming the audience and explaining the importance of the evening for Black History Month past and present. He then introduced jazz musician Reggie Moore, who was awarded the first ICD Cultural Ambassador award last year for his work in bridging cultures through music. Mr. Moore spoke to the audience about the importance of Black History Month and jazz music to him. He spoke of growing up in New York in the 1950s, and the revolutionary sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane that emerged in 1959 through the albums “Great Steps” and “Kind of Blue”. People who came to jazz after this, he observed, are unable to fully grasp how new and impressive the “sheets of sound” style that Coltrane developed was. He then introduced to the stage Professor Peter Weniger, who gave an impressive display of the aforementioned melodies.

Pepe Burns (bass), Tobais Backhaus (drums), and special guest Jocelyn B. Smith (vocals) then joined Mr. Moore and Professor Weniger to get the concert under way in earnst. The first set began with “United Blues”, and included the hit “Cold Duck Time” based, Prof. Weniger explained, on the cheap wine that the musicians used to drink backstage after concerts (named “Cold Duck”). A special tribute to the venue, and a loyal member of the audience, by Jocelyn Smith was also a particular favorite with the crowd.

Following a break that gave the packed club a chance to reflect on the music so far and refresh themselves, the talented musicians continued with a diverse, powerful collection of classic jazz songs that brought back memories of Black History Months gone by, and had the audience waiting on the every word of the soulful Smith. As the audience left, reluctantly, they could reflect on an evening that had been both informative and entertaining, and had meant something to everyone.