An A-Z of a first day at Jazzahead

The first day at what has become the worlds largest jazz conference leaves a mass of impressions. It’s a huge event. Here they are as an A to Z

A is for All Present. Everyone, or nearly everyone from European jazz whom you might expect to see at a bash like this is here. From record labels to major festivals, it is now a major draw. Apart from the broadcasters, perhaps – it clashes with EBU. People aren’t necessarily buying exhibitor packages – some major players just rock up as visitors and buy themselves day-tickets. Just to be here.

A is also for ACT Music and its boss Siggi Loch, who gave a moving speech presenting the 2011 Skoda Jazzpreis to Claude Nobs of Montreux Jazz Festival.

B is for Bremen. I’m hoping to get to know the city by the Weser rather than just its Congress Centre..

C is for Creative Scotland. The Scottish presence here is impressive.

D is for Duc des Lombards. I met the people from the Paris club which recently gave rise to a row on the internet. With a capacity of just 70 people, and putting on jazz 285 nights a year without subsidy, they are doing this for a purpose other than financial return.

D is also for determination. I met delegates today who had, variously, taken an overnight sleeper from Austria and got up in the Thames Valley at 2am. Nothing 9 to 5 about this lot.

E is for Ertegun. The influence of the Ertegun brothers Nesuhi (1917-1989) and Ahmet (1923-2006) were mentioned by both Siggi Loch as he presented the Skoda prize, and by Claude Nobs as he received it – there is also a strong connection with Turkey in this year’s conference. (See also T)

F is for fourteen forty-five. (See P)

F is also for Fran Hardcastle our regular contributor and highly capable guest editor doesn’t have to try that hard to be popular, but with a few pre-release copies of the Impossible Gentlemen’s new CD to give to selected people, her stall had an orderly queue for much of the day.

F is also for Forty. Which is how old the ENJA label is this year. Many happy returns. But they are not folk to spend money on friperies. Their banner still modestly claims “thirty-five.”

G is for Growing. Delegates this year are well over 2000, there are 357 exhibitors from 30 countries, roughly 30% up year-on-year.

H is for Hamburg. The ElbJazz people are here – we’ll be featuring Colin Towns next week. In his role as composer in residence of the NDR Big Band, he has written the festival’s main new commission, a composition portraying the history of Hamburg harbour

I is for Inntoene. I heard about a rural weekend festival in Upper Austria – I’m tempted to go there.

J is for jazzahead! and its co-organizers Peter Schulze and Ulli Beckerhoff, whose team have done a good job.

K is for das Kapital, one of the most talked about young German bands.

L is for Dave Liebman. I ‘m hearing that he’s just recorded an amazing Miles Sketches of Spain for radio with a top pro band in Graz. Now that I’d like to hear.

N is for the Nokia theme. I thought we’d heard that infuriating Gran Vals by Francisco Tárrega, until it came in, mezzforte, right on cue, as Jef Neve and Pascal Schumacher did a particularly subtle and quiet ending. (See also V)

N is also for next year. jazzahead! 2012 dates: April 19th – 22nd. (See also S)

O is for Out to Lunch, what a great name for a promoter (from Australia). I didn’t want to tempt fate and check if anyone was actually manning their stand. I did check out one Italian Festival to be told that although they had a sign up, they weren’t actually coming. Can Italian lunches last three days?

P is for Partisans. (See also F) 14.45 was the mid-afternoon time allocated to Partisans for their showcase slot. But it would appear that the clock isn’t an obstacle: Phil Robson and Julian Siegel can resume their high-energy games of pursuit at any time of day or night and bring themselves and an audience to life.

Q is for Thierry Quenum from France, one of the few foreign journalists here, and someone with open ears for music across our continent. He’s be a natural for …..(see X)

R is for Ryanair. They got me here safely, but I’ve heard the story of a musician returning today on whome they used their baggage restrictions as a blatant money-spinner. Gotta be careful.

S is for Spain. Announced officially today as 2012 partner country for jazzahead!

S is also for Star Trek and Star Wars. I learnt today that allaboutjazz.com was seed-funded by the profits of an entrepreneeur who had caught the brief vogue for Star Wars and Sar Trek screensavers.

T is for 2011 jazzahead! partner country with a strong presence here – Turkey

U is for Ulli Beckerhoff. As the man who (refuses to take any credit for having) instigated Jazzahead, he clearly has a success on his hands.

V is for Slo-VENIA. They joined forces with the Swiss and the Austrians to pour Welschriesling. (See also Z)

V is also for vibraphone. That duo from the linguistic fault-lines of Europe, Pascal Schumacher from Luxembourg and Jef Neve from Geel in the east of Belgium played a lively set full of delicate and happy interplay. Until they were interrupted by (see N)

W is for Wedding. The Germans kept telling me there was a weeding going on in London today. What were they on about?

X is for Jazz-x. I like what is at the heart of this project to make local coverage global by getting high-quality web-based content about specific European jazz scenes translated. It is flawed, but it should happen in some form or other.

Y is for Jason Yarde. Dave Stapleton who is here has just announced that MY Duo with Yarde and Andrew McCormack will record their next CD for Edition.

Z is for Ozma. I missed the showcase by French cellist Adrien Dennefeld’s band – it was the Austrians and they made me drink. I should have spotted this sign pointing to the jazz and the wine.


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8 replies »

  1. Wild – that's a lovely read! And 'O is for Out to Lunch' must, of course, be named after the Eric Dolphy album!

  2. What a great round-up, Sebastian. Thanks!

    JazzAhead! was interesting and bizarre at the same time: Having business and music so close together, sharing one stage. My eyes often got caught on the mix of faces: up-beat and excited, and desillusioned and phlegmatic. I stuck with the former and had a great time.

    Will have to make it more than 1 day next time, myself.

  3. And here's my alphabetical list.

    A – AFIJMA. This is the French jazz festivals organisation and which the Vortex has just joined as a foreign associate member.
    B- Belgium. Unlike much of this divided country, jazz appears to be a unifying factor. They have a great range of promoters in both the Flemish and Wallonie regions, such as Jean-Pierre Bissot from Gaume, Wim Wabbes from Vooruit in Gent etc. etc. (Also, Oliver Belopeta of Skopje)
    C – Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Preannouncing its highlights, the main festival has over 1000 concerts in July. Go for it Christian.
    D – Dutch Jazz. A country which has the resources and musicianship. Mouthwatering venues (e.g. Bim Huis and SJU Utrecht) and festivals (such as North Sea)
    E – Europe Jazz Network. The Vortex is a member. Anke and Battista have been doing a great job in bringing us members together.
    F – Festivals. Lots of them.
    G- Gerry Godley. The mastermind behind the 12 Points festival in Ireland and overseeing, with Bo Gronningstaeter its expansion Europe-wide.
    H – Hungary. The BMC label seems to be the driving force behind a lot of Hungarian jazz, not just a label but also a festival.
    I – ILK. One of the great young labels around, driven by the ILK Collective in Denmark. The guiding light is Lotte Anker, a great saxophonist.
    J – Jazz Services. Joe Paice set up the British stand with limited resources, but managed to get a presence for us after all.
    K – Kelman, John. The ubiquitous and hard-working creative mastermind of allaboutjazz.com
    L – Luxembourg. Much of the development of the scene here is due to trumpeter Gast Waltzing, who is also label manager, promoter, professor at music conservatoire.
    M – Muetzelfeldt. Karsten, a radio journalist for WDR in Cologne and Deutschlandfunk, has an encyclopedic knowledge of European jazz and can be seen all around the place.
    N – Norwegian. One of the main languages of the event, along with English, German and French. This is where all is moving towards over the next few years.
    O – Orotone. A leading French agency. Laurent Carrier works hard to ensure that many of the young bands get around Europe. (Also Philippe Ochem of Jazzdor Strasbourg).
    P – Panisset. Jacques has overseen the development of Grenoble Jazz Festival and its move to having a name including Babel!
    Q – Quenum. Thierry is a great journalist, using his knowledge effectively for Jazz Magazine in France.
    R – Rui Neves. A great promoter who runs the wonderful Jazz em Agosto in Lisbon.
    S – Sendesaal. This is the former Radio Bremen studio, now a concert hall where I heard Colin Vallon and Mathias Eick. I first went there in 1992 to help Iain Ballamy record All Men Amen. Its revival is a fitting tribute to the indefatigable Peter Schulze, who also initiated Jazzahead.
    T – Tallinn. This year's European Capital of Culture with a great programme of music and also the home of the Free Tallinn Trio, coming back to London in October
    U – Ulli Rattay is one of the best jazz publicists around in Germany. Understands the music but is also a realist.
    V – Vortex. Todd Wills managed to survive insomnia and various alcoholic potions which were being offered to ensnare him for gigs.
    W – Winckelmann. Matthias is one of the great jazz producers, with Enja now 40 years old. A mentor to me.
    X – Xylophone. Or rather Vibraphone. Pascal Schumacher (at the Vortex in June)
    Y – Youthful. What so many of the grey beards seem to have, in order to keep going.
    Z – Zomerjazzfietstour. A festival around Groningen where you cycle from gig to gig. Marcel Roelofs is one of the happiest men you could ever meet – and a demon ninepin bowler.

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