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Radio Jazz Research meeting on Jazz and Festivals in Diersbach, Austria

Sebastian attended a recent meeting of the German Radio Jazz Research group. He writes:

RADIO JAZZ RESEARCH

The Radio Jazz Research group meets two to three times a year and has the objective “to facilitate the free exchange of opinions, information and knowledge among its members”, with a central focus of research into jazz, including the way it is presented on radio.

The members of the group tend to have different professional profiles and roles, a combination of musicians, journalists from print and radio, promoters from clubs and festivals and people from record labels. The idea of having the meetings is that the all present can have their horizons broadened by opportunity to look at a jazz-related subject from several different perspectives. The membership is international, but most of the proceedings take place in German.

JUNE 2019 SESSION

Paul Zauner receiving his Honorary Membership of RJR from Dr Bernd Hoffmann
(All photos courtesy of Radio Jazz Research)

The most recent RJR session took place over two days in the run-up to the small but extremely highly-regarded INNtöne Festival in Upper Austria (ROUND-UP). INNtöne is held in a farm in open country and the seminar was held at a restaurant in the nearest village to the festival, the Kirchenwirt in Diersbach. There was one formal moment of celebration during the proceedings, captured on the photo here, in which Paul Zauner who runs the INNtöne Festival was presented with an honorary membership by Dr Bernd Hoffmann from the board of RJR, who recently retired as Head of Jazz at the broadcaster WDR in Cologne.

This meeting brought together a group of festival directors, academics, journalists and other observers. Festivals represented by senior people from festivals included Bonn, Münster, Suedtirol Alto Adige, Moers (a former director) and Monheim.

THE PROGRAMME

Jazz and its audience. Current and historic researches on visits to festivals.

Comment: These research findings were presented by Lena Verneuer from the University of Bielefeld. The study brings up to date findings from similar work done in 1976 and 1990, based around 578 returned questionnaires from audience members at this year’s Münster festival. The research portrays a left-leaning, ageing… but above all an open-minded audience.

New spaces, formats and concepts. Thoughts on running jazz festivals now.

Dr Anke Steinbeck of JazzFest Bonn

Comment: This presentation by Anke Steinbeck from JazzFest Bonn concentrated on how festivals can innovate. Dr. Steinbeck worked in the classical sector before taking her role at JazzFest Bonn and her most recent book deals with improvisation and convergences between jazz and classical music. She looked at the festival both as “Jahrmarkt” (annual fair) and as “Labor” (a place for experimentation) and the concurrent need to bring the local scene to the fore while also attracting global names.

One man’s perspective: Reiner Michalke of Stadtgarten/ Moers/ Monheim ( Interview by Arne Schumacher of Radio Bremen)

Comment: The interview with Reiner Michalke set the context of how soon after WW2 German jazz festivals started. He also gave an intriguing early glimpse of the next festival he is preparing to unveil in 2020 the Rhineland town of Monheim.

Jazz and festivals. Dan Ouellette (Downbeat), Tim Dickeson (writer/photographer) und Klaus Widmann (Südtirol Jazzfestival AltoAdige, Bolzano)

Comment: All three speakers here talked about the discoveries and new sounds and inspirations that festivals bring. Widmann spoke eloquently about a shift away from the kind of sponsors who insisted on known names towards those who would trust his vision of a festival. Suedtirol has definitely succeeded in bringing in a younger audience too.

“We are broadcasting live from INNtöne” – Jazz festivals and the media

Reiner Michalke

Comment: Dr Bernd Hoffmann gave an in-depth account of the complexity involved and the resources required to put on his last festival for WDR, earlier this year in Gütersloh. The discussion which ensued brought differences of opinion as to whether the labour-intensive procedures of broadcasters should now be considered obsolete.

Presentation of the 2019 INNtöne Festival by Paul Zauner

Comment: Zauner explained the background to his “jazz on the farm” festival: he originally landed a grant he really wasn’t expecting and was suddenly faced with the task of putting on a festival. He talked about how the mix of sponsorship and ticket sales and food/drink sales finances it, and some of the background to his own personal web of connections to the scenes in New York, LA and London.

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