There will be all the naysayers again complaining about why artists such as Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, or Alicia Keys are part of a jazz festival programme when in fact, the vast majority of the line-up clearly is jazz and also, what’s the real problem behind it? There is nothing wrong if a huge festival like this one is trying to bring in some headlining acts drawing the crowd in and I’m pretty sure there will be festival goers again who will discover a new artist he/she hasn’t heard of before. Which reminds me of a story by Montreux Jazz Festival founder and director, the late great Claude Nobs, who was facing those criticism as far back as 20 years or so ago. I was asking him back then if he would react to this kind of criticism and he replied that they had actually tried to re-name the Festival a few years earlier, dropping the word jazz from its moniker and yet, the audience didn’t warm up to this idea and kept calling it Montreux Jazz Festival. So there you go. I think we should all start going out and listen to some music instead of complaining about trivialities like this.
So there’s the reunion of the Mood Swing Quartet with Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, and Brian Blade. Herbie Hancock, who turns 80 in April, is going to be there as will another elder statesman, Archie Shepp, with a dedication to John Coltrane. We also get Branford Marsalis, Jazzmeia Horn, George Benson, Kurt Elling and Danilo Pérez (Kurt will release his new album “Secrets Are The Best Stories” on Edition Records on April 3rd with Danilo on piano and Rhodes), Ibrahim Maalouf, the James Carter Organ Trio, Nubya Garcia, Gregory Porter (new album “All Rise” on April 17th), Kenny Barron & Dave Holland Trio feat. Jonathan Blake, and Stacey Kent, among many others.
For the more soul-oriented crowd, you’ll be pleased to know that Jordan Rakei will be back as well as Jill Scott, Michael Kiwanuka, or Baby Rose. The festival will run July 10th to 12th and will also feature a special opening night concert on July 9th with John Legend. You can check out all of the acts which have been announced so far on www.northseajazz.com