Aarhus Jazz Festival embraces jazz for the 30th time
Thursday 24 May 2018 Carl Ancher Pedersen
All genres are represented, it is manageable, and it oozes with great vibes and music.
Those are some of the words that the three chairmen, who have been with Aarhus Jazz Festival for a collective 30 years, use to describe the festival.
Musician, sound engineer, and producer Per Hougaard became the first chairman of the new organization behind the festival in 1995. Previously, Musikhuset Aarhus’ event department ran the show and played a central part during the first festival in 1989. Back then, some of the greatest jazz stars such as Stan Getz and George Benson performed. Times have changed.
‘Unlike Copenhagen Jazz Festival, we do not have a big bad of money to buy music for. Apart from the concerts on Klostertorvet and Bispetorvet, as well as a few others that we organise, we act as an umbrella organisation for a number of organizers and venues, meaning that we are dependent on their line-up.’, says Per Hougaard.
Luckily, there is enough to choose from and what may be lacking at the top is found in the scope: from traditional jazz in the Jazz Tent on Telefontorvet to the most far-out avant-garde, which can be heard at the two-day improv festival COLABS in Jægergårdsgade.
”The great thing is that all genres are represented, including those with a broad appeal and small niches. Additionally, the festival is very walkable. All venues are within walking distance’, says Per Hougaard.
A living organism
The board and secretariat have left their mark on festival throughout the years. Musician and big band leader Jens Klüver, who has been chairman for nearly 20 years since 1998, highlights the inclusion of the tent stage on Bispetorvet (Bispejazz) in 2012:
”The idea was to elevate the quality and depth of the program and I believe that we have succeeded.’
Guitarist and program director at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus/Aaborg (RAMA) Mads Kjær became the new festival chairman last year. He mentions children’s jazz on Klostertorvet and subsequently Bispetorvet. Two years ago, children’s jazz was expanded notably with successful and popular events at Dokk1 for an entire weekend.
‘The positive dynamic between the young lions on the rhythmic programs at RAMA and Aarhus School of Music is another benefit. It leaves room for new things to grow’, he says. He also highlights the increased focus on excellent world music and the New Directiona project’s crossover of jazz and classical as being part of the new direction:
’It is more fun when things melt together. It makes the jazz festival a living organism.’
Some special moments
We ask the three chairmen to describe some of their favourite moments through 30 years of festivals.
Per Hougaard: ‘A crowded afternoon on Klostertorvet with Sigurd Barett & Trio de Janeiro. The concert went on for longer than expected and ended with an amazing jam between Sigurd Barrett and the bells of the Church of Our Lady, which started ringing.’
Jens Klüver: ‘The concerts in Ridehuset with the big band (Klüver’s, now Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, ed.) and different soloists, which luckily continued. When I meet musicians and audience members in Denmark and abroad, they often bring up these concerts.
Mads Kjær Jensen: ‘The lobby concerts in Musikhuset with Steen Rasmussen Quinteto, who are excellent interpreters of Brazilian-inspired jazz (will also be playing this year, ed.).
What will your special moments at the 340 concerts of the 30th Aarhus Jazz Festival be?