"Make the connection" and "HANDLE WITH CARE".

A celebration of free artistic expression and relationship building. Across actual and perceived distances.

What do we do when we see ourselves as cultural beings? Whether in music, in the performing arts, in painting or in linguistic expression - whether in the art business or in everyday life - we create meanings, create sense, create order(s). Through these orders we move in the world. Only through a common system of naming and understanding does art and culture make sense - can what someone means be understood. 

Humans are creatures of habit. Moving within the same orders, sorting out the world so that it offers simple solutions to simple problems, is less strenuous than dealing with the complexity of multiple perspectives and realities. When people are confronted with a system of meaning that is completely foreign to them, they experience culture shock in extreme cases. They experience fear and insecurity, and feel that their existence is threatened. Quite simply because they no longer understand anything, their classifications no longer work.  

But people are not only creatures of habit, they are also capable of learning. If they find themselves in such a situation, there is a chance that they will overcome this state of shock and leave excessive demands and confusion behind. Blockades are removed and things are sorted, puzzle pieces fit together until commonalities are recognized and formerly foreign elements slide irrevocably into the normality of their own world without compromise. It is said that there are even people who seek out these situations, virtually throw themselves into them. They want to create connectivity and do translation work, bring new impulses into old systems and view supposedly unsolvable problems in a new light.

However, there are many obstacles that prevent people from having such experiences on a daily basis. 

Their physical and social mobility is restricted, educational opportunities are not given, there is censorship and violence, dominant political ideologies that promote isolation, fix identities, close borders and conjure up enmities. The world has never been a simple place, it has never been in order. Nevertheless, we live - at least from a Central European perspective - in a time in which the precariousness of our freedoms and the need to create mutual understanding and to act together are brought home to us with unaccustomed sharpness. It is time to regain confidence in the ability to turn to each other, to move away from one's own position and to create understanding - with the goal of acting together correctly and well in order to preserve one's own future in the sense of this freedom to shape.

And what does all this have to do with jazz? Jazz is an art form that feeds on its social environment, draws its lifeblood from its social surroundings. Its vitality depends on its ability to open itself to processes and events that happen around it. This cannot be just a matter of maintaining a highly intellectual artistic exchange, but of being empathetic and connecting, always co-evolving and creating resonance.

With this year's festival edition, we have invited musicians who dare to cross borders and cover great distances in their interpersonal encounters: stylistically, disciplinarily, culturally, politically, geographically. Musicians who empathically turn to their environment, connect with the past and tradition, explore the origins of their identity, but are equally located in the present and develop visions for the future, each of which has its own story to tell.

So this year, the Leipzig Jazz Days are once again a journey of exploration - and an exercise. An exercise for the audience to get involved in the face of the unknown. Just as the artists on stage have done and will probably do again and again. An exercise to surrender to the refreshing effect of irritation, to let it work on you - with the risk that sooner or later a certain understanding will set in and you will go home a little changed. Maybe even in a feeling of solidarity.


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