Press Release: Afrofuturism None

Press Information

Hamburg, 12 July 2022: The »Afrofuturism« spotlight in the Elbphilharmonie starts on 17 August with the Sons of Kemet’s final German concert. Over a period of three months, the Elbphilharmonie will be the first European concert hall to present an in-depth exploration of the movement that has, at least since the release of the Marvel blockbuster »Black Panther«, reached mainstream popular culture. How do African and Afro-diasporic people imagine a future that is rooted in their own past? The jazz legend Sun Ra played an instrumental role in the aesthetic response to this question. The renowned Sun Ra Arkestra now performs in the Grand Hall under his musical companion, 98-year-old Marshall Allen. And some of the most prominent young representatives of Afrofuturism are also coming to Hamburg: Angel Bat Dawid & Tha Brothahood, the jazz trumpeter Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (Christian Scott) and Theo Croker. The Grammy-nominated saxophonist Ravi Coltrane dedicates an evening to an exploration of the legacy of his famous parents John and Alice Coltrane. The spotlight series also includes an extensive programme of supporting events. Tickets are available at

After the Second World War, society developed an ardent enthusiasm for technology and progress: the space race, the moon landing and science fiction novels to name but a few manifestations. When contemplating the future, black people developed a distinct vision – a freer world with unlimited possibilities for personal fulfilment. In the expanses of the galaxy it was possible to escape racism, marginalisation and indignity. The movement known as »Afrofuturism« quickly came to embody unique aesthetic principles: drawing on the imagery of ancient African civilisations and cosmic spirituality, and later through experimentation with electronic sound production. Today, many of the most exciting young musicians are reaching to the distance with relish again, delighting audiences around the world in the process.

Kicking off the spotlight on 17 August, the Sons of Kemet – a jazz supergroup put together by Shabaka Hutchings, one of the most influential figures of the London scene – give a special guest performance in the Grand Hall. Hutchings spent his early years in the UK before moving to Barbados, where he was exposed to new musical influences. The Sons of Kemet embrace music from around the world, blending west-African rhythms with Caribbean ska, and combining melodies and scales from the Middle East with hip-hop beats from the USA. The music of the Sons of Kemet is both political and danceable. On their album »Black to the Future«, which they now present in the Elbphilharmonie, the musicians almost literally stamp and march their way into the listeners’ ear canals. The concert in the Elbphilharmonie is the last opportunity to see the band in Germany – the Sons of Kemet will be breaking up after their summer gigs.

Composer, clarinettist, pianist, singer and DJ: Angel Bat Dawid’s creative expression knows no limits. However, her rise to artistic success began as a free fall. She dropped out of her music course due to a cancer diagnosis and took on a day job to pay for the cost of the operation. In 2014, she quit and invested the pay-out in equipment. It wasn’t long before she conquered the music scene in her adopted home of Chicago, and she now performs in major cities around the world. Her spiritual jazz is about resistance, about a refusal to be restricted, about unrestrained sound. Together with her band Tha Brothahood, she connects with the collective spirit of the Sun Ra Arkestra on 4 September. Angel Bat Dawid blends dance and meditation with free improvisation without a safety net.

The trumpeter Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (Christian Scott), who is performing in the Recital Hall on 12 September, pursues a radically open musical and cultural concept of »stretch music«. He incorporates influences from modal jazz, hardbop, fusion, post-rock, electronic and hip-hop. From a hybrid instrument he designed himself – something between a trumpet and a horn – he extracts ecstatic tone cascades, as well as a lyrical sound that is reminiscent of Miles Davis. His latest interest is the »Adjuah’s Bow«, a kind of electric harp inspired by the Malian string instruments kora and donso n-goni that is held in front of the player with a strap.

Then, in mid-October, the saxophonist Ravi Coltrane explores the music and spiritual legacy of his famous parents under the title »Cosmic Music: A Contemporary Exploration into the Music of John and Alice Coltrane«. Ravi Coltrane was born in 1965, two years before his father’s death. In »Cosmic Music«, named after a joint record by his parents, he now engages directly with their musical inheritance for the very first time. Coltrane previously developed his own expressive sound in projects with contemporaries of his father such as Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner, as well as with leading figures of the younger generation such as Flying Lotus.

In the period of global isolation resulting from the coronavirus crisis, the trumpeter Theo Croker opted for personal retreat. His musical objective was to reflect on a life that had come to a standstill – the result is an album about his African heritage and his identity as a black artist in the USA. Croker, who was born in 1985, belongs to the group of young Afro-American jazz musicians who bring the spiritual approach, the Afrofuturism and the socio-political consciousness of the 1960s into the present. »BLK2LIFE // A Future Past« tells the story of a hero who shapes his future through an understanding of the past (26 October, Recital Hall).

The Sun Ra Arkestra has had a unique influence on the pop culture of today: founded in 1952 by the pioneer of Afrofuturism Sun Ra, the ensemble’s big-band sound quickly reached interstellar spheres. They were pharaohs from the future, and from their instruments came cosmic free jazz – always »funky to the bone«, with a direct physical dimension. For the Afro-American musicians, combining science fiction with the visual language of past civilisations was a political act. It wasn’t just the future Sun Ra had in mind, but also a self-empowerment in the immediate present. On 13 November, the Sun Ra Arkestra is led in the Elbphilharmonie by the saxophonist Marshall Allen – a musical companion of Sun Ra’s who is as charismatic on stage as ever.

Afrofuturism touches all areas of life for the African diaspora: music, literature, art and film. The Elbphilharmonie+ accompanying programme broadens our view of this cultural phenomenon. »Space Is the Place« (1972) – a key Sun Ra work in which he plans a voyage into space, only for NASA to get wise to him – will be screened in Zeise Kinos three times. A workshop with Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, who teaches at the renowned Brown University and who is also known as the rapper Sammus, provides the opportunity to dive even deeper into the infinite cosmos of Afrofuturism.

Supported by Freundeskreis Elbphilharmonie + Laeiszhalle e.V.