(the accordionist will playing at the Gala Concert at Die Glocke, Bremen)
Photo credit Ralf Dombrowski
“By the time people leave this year’s ‘jazzahead!’, they really should be aware that France is this year’s partner country!”
The 10th trade show, showcase and festival in Bremen from April 23rd to 26th has a French focus. The main co-ordinator of this activity, under the combined banner of “Echoes of France” is AJC (Association Jazzé Croisé), represented by Antoine Bos. Sebastian visited him in Paris to get a better idea of the scale of the French cultural and jazz presence in Bremen in April. To say the least, there is a lot going on:
London Jazz News: What is Echoes of France?
Antoine Bos: It is an exceptional operation of promotion for the French jazz scene and all those active in it. We decided to put everything that’s going on in Bremen in April, both before and during ‘jazzahead!’ under this single name.
LJN: How did it get started?
AB: It was at one of the European Jazz Network meetings, in 2013. Sybille Kornitschky presented the idea to me the for the first time that France could be the partner country for the 10th jazzahead! In 2015. Thereafter we discussed, and on the French side we developed the idea further. We felt we needed to make a real effort to achieve our goals, which is to make the French identity and our artists really stand out among all the huge amount of activity that goes on at ‘jazzahead!’. It works for us because we want French artists to achieve greater European visibility and we can give them that at ‘jazzahead!’.
LJN: The thing everyone knows about is the showcase, but Echoes of France seems to have a lot more to it. What are the components of the French presence at Jazzahead?
AB: There will be:
– A two-week festival during April (9th -23rd) presenting a broader perspective of French culture in partnership wth the Institut Francais in Bremen, and the cultural bodies of the City of Bremen who have supported it. It will start on April 9th with a concert by Eric Truffaz et French singer Émilie Loizeau and a bassist/slammer Dgiz.
– During jazzahead! itself, there will be 20 concerts by French artists, including 8 bands on “French Night”
– Six seminars looking at subjects such as the one you’re participating in about whether it makes sense to look at France as being different, as an “exception.” There will be one about how we can “federate”, how we can all work better across Europe, that sort of thing.
– A Gala concert in Bremen’s main concert hall Die Glocke presenting accordionists Richard Galliano and Vincent Peirani
– Sacem night with two rising stars Raphaele Atlan and Airelle Besson (INTERVIEWED HERE)
– A French “Quartier” with a bistro
– An exhibition of jazz photography of French artists
– A 200 square metre area called “Open Space in which we will run events
– Live transmissions on the Radio station France-Musique from jazzahead! On the Thursday and the Friday of jazzahead!
The effort really is directed specifically around the time of Jazzahead, in the run-up to it, to have the maximum impact. By the time people leave jazzahed!, they really should be aware that France is this year’s partner country.
LJN: There are a number of national jazz organizations in France. The way it works is that you’ve ben given the co-ordinating role?
AB. Yes, it’something particular to France, there are number of different bodies. jazzahead! had reasons why they wanted us as partner: because we’d been there as AFIJMA and more recently as AJC since the start, and because we have the experience of having put together international projects. They are people we know well, Philippe Ochem too, who is one of our board members.
We have been working at it for more than a year, but we have tried to be scrupulous about keeping a whole group of partners in the loop. Also all the members of AJC including our board have put in a lot of time on a pro bono basis.
We invest a lot of time, our budget to do this included just one fulltime person on the project on a six-month contract. But the workload to put it together, working for the wider interest is huge. It is an operation for French jazz in general and that positioning has enabled us to work with all the partners in a common interest: the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Instiut Francais, the copyright collection agencies SACEM, SPEDIDAM FCM and ADAMI, Bureau Export, CNV and Business France. These partners are not supporting Echoes of France because it’s us that’s doing it, they’re doing it because the project is right.
Our role and the budget we have been given to do it with has been to pay the artists and their travelling and accomodation expenses – paying them properly is inportant – plus the comunication, and putting together meetings as we have been preparing it all.
I would not want people to think that because it is France, it was easy to find money for this. France is not that rich and it is not easy to get a budget for such operation. They just all understood how such a project could be a real “plus” for the french jazz scene. It would not be easy to make this happen every year!
LJN: Can you give examples of what will go on in the festival before ‘jazzahead!’
AB: Apart from the concert by Truffaz and Loizeau one really good thing will be a Boris Vian Day with five short films based on short stories by Vian. The day is put together by the custodian of his work Nicole Bertolt who is a real specialist on Vian. Vian was a great writer with strong links with jazz. (video here)
LJN: How was the French Night put together?
AB: The selection was made by an international jury. These are people who do this kind of selection as their job. Three of the eight acts that they have chosen are participants in Jazz Migration, a project which we co-ordinate. We are glad that they were chosen, because it validates all the work we have done during so many years by promoting these young French talent, but these were the impartial choices of the judges. Honestly, we are super happy with the choices made by the jury because this selection reflects the french jazz scene in all its components and talents!
The only thing we got involved directly in was Magnetic Ensemble for an afterparty, it was a collective decision by a whole group of people – member organisations board and board members involved with AJC.
LJN: How many French people will there be in Bremen in April for Jazzahead
AB: Taking musicians, festival promoters and eveyone together there will be around 200. They are listed HERE. In a normal year it’s about 50.