It’s festival season in Europe and each year, there are more and more coming up – even in the smallest cities and towns you’ve never heard of. One of the biggest and oldest celebrates its 40th anniversary this year: the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam. I’ve been visiting this one since the late 80s with several short pauses in between but it always promises to be a highly entertaining one because it combines everything a good festival needs: enough support so that you can see top-notch artists, adventurous programming to witness up-and-coming acts, and of course a look beyond the genre because you couldn’t otherwise stage such a huge event.
Special projects this year include a blindfold test by Downbeat contributor Dan Ouellette with Terence Blanchard, a panel with José James talking about his latest album with songs of Billie Holiday, clinics with Marcus Miller and Avishai Cohen, a unique concert tribute to the great Joni Mitchell with participating artists like Lizz Wright, Oleta Adams, Michael Kiwanuka, Terence Blanchard, Brian Blade, Chaka Khan, and Becca Stevens.
For this anniversary edition, two of the artists who performed at the first one back in 1976, Han Bennink and Randy Weston, join journalist Ashley Kahn to discuss the festival and how Jazz has progressed over the decades. Also on the menu, a panel with Kahn and artists Dianne Reeves and Theo Croker on the artistry of the late great Clark Terry. Another panel focuses on John Coltrane‘s groundbreaking ” A Love Supreme” album and Branford Marsalis, Kurt Elling, and Rudresh Mahanthappa will join Kahn in talking about this epic LP.
Add to this the usual amount of current big shots, newcomers, local acts, and a look into the Soul, Brazilian, and Electro world and join the circus. I will. July 10th-12th.