Norway is blessed with a huge number of festivals covering a wide variety of genres and settings ranging from intimate affairs to major capacity open-air events. Choosing the main jazz events from this long list of festivals is no easy task but MIC has given it a try. Check out the main spring, summer and early autumn jazz festivals that Norway has on offer.
This spring has already seen Vossajazz, MaiJazz and the Trondheim Jazz Festival being staged to great success. The summer festival season is fast approaching and the first of the spring/summer jazz festivals is Bergen’s Nattjazz which is currently in full swing:
Nattjazz (Nightjazz) is one of the major jazz festivals in Northern Europe and is staged annually in late May /early June in Bergen, Norway. Nattjazz was founded in 1972 and is despite its age now stronger than ever.
Nattjazz swings into action in late May every year, and over the course of 11 nights more than 80 concerts are presented. Since its 1973 début, Nattjazz has brought to Bergen many of the world's greatest artists; from Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, James Brown, Van Morrison, The Band, Pharoah Sanders, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon and Al di Meola, to St Germain, Gipsy Kings, Macy Gray and Gotan Project. But Nattjazz is not merely a festival about great names, it's about who we don't know and who we should know. Since its inception, Nattjazz has been committed to getting unusual combinations of musicians playing together, and to exploring the potential of new collaborations. Thus, both Bugge Wesseltoft's New Conception of Jazz and Supersilent were premiered at Nattjazz.
Nattjazz is an essential meeting point for jazz curiousity seekers and professionals who endeavour to keep ajour with the current state of contemporary jazz. In the course of the last 10 years Nattjazz has achieved recognition both nationally and internationally as one of the most important festivals and showrooms for contemporary jazz in Europe. Thanks to a consistent billing and an attractive atmosphere, Nattjazz is happy to recognize the growing interest from national and international media, and is confident that this trend continues in 2007 and in the years to come.
Highlights this year include acts Scorch Trio feat. Mars Williams, Mats Eilertsen Trio, Sidsel Endresen & Stian Endresen duo, Al Di Meola World Sinfonia, Of Montreal, Arve Henriksen Trio, Farmers Market, Jon Eberson Group, Atomic, Salif Keita and Tortoise.
When: 25 May – 4 June
Of Scandinavian jazz festivals Kongsberg is the second oldest and one of the largest sporting a wide range of artists and styles. The music was invariably of the highest quality, played in venues of exceptional attractiveness (including a refurbished silver smelting factory and a quaint local tea-room), appealing to an audience as diverse as the fare. Add to this the accompaniment of immaculate weather and you have the recipe for a stellar festival experience! Indeed, walking between the 18 different sites is frequently a pleasure, not the least due to their separation by 70 metre bridge across a raging torrent of Grade 5 white water. The air shimmers with positive ions and one's ears sing with the roar of the water.
The festival’s varied programme proves that Kongsberg Jazz is one of the places globally to witness this edge of modern jazz slowly move forward, whether you measure it in inches or in centimetres. 2011 highlights include Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Charles Lloyd, Primus, Barry Guy New, Bergen Big Band with Terje Rypdal, Monolithic, Peter Brötzmann, Motorpsycho, Arild Andersen Quintet, In The Country, BMX with Per Jørgensen and Maria Kannegaard Trio.
When: 6-9 July
Molde International Jazz Festival
Established in 1961, the Molde International Jazz Festival is without doubt one of the nation’s leading festivals, both in terms of size, historical significance and international standing. Over the years the festival has given key exposure for Norwegian jazz acts as the event has a long history of attracting international media and music industry reps.
The festival has also long been host to special projects and, as one of five festivals—Molde being the only jazz event—receiving additional government funding, Molde has been able to commission new works that have been recorded and ultimately released commercially. The festival has also been a part of the Intro Jazz: Årets Unge Jazzmusikere program, where eight groups are selected each year, from a larger collection of applicants, to compete for a prize of several hundred thousand Norwegian Kroners that can be used to help further their careers.
Highlights this year includes David Holland as artist in residence, John McLaughlin 6 the 4th Dimension, Lee Konitz & Tomasz Stanko Quintet, Supersilent feat. John Paul Jones and Jon Balke with Batagraf and Trondheim Voices and much more.
When: 18 – 23 July
Oslo Jazz Festival
2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Jazz Festival, an anniversary that is celebrated with a grand anniversary full-night concert at the Norwegian Opera featuring a reunited Come Shine backed by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. The anniversary concert also includes an impressive list of soloists; Nils Petter Molvær, Silje Nergaard and Statkraft Young Star Scholarship recipient Kristoffer Kompen. The repertoire for the night will be based on new pieces written by Molvær, a selection of songs that Come Shine and the Radio Orchestra have performed with huge success in the past as well as compositions that were borne out of Nergaard’s work with the Metropole Orchestra.
Other Norwegian highlights at the festival include Kompen Quintet, Karin Krog (duo with Bengt Hallberg), Bugge Wesseltoft feat. a brand new band, Mathias Eick and the Bjørn Vidar Solli Wedding Band.
When: 15-20 August
Founded in 2005, Kristiansand’s Punkt Festival’s governing principle is to contribute to further development of modern electronic music. Since the birth of the event, the festival has commissioned great international and Norwegian artists, like Arve Henriksen, Nils Petter Molvær, Supersilent, Sidsel Endresen, Maja Ratkje, Jon Hassel, Alain Johannes and many more, put them together and thus created both new concepts, new music and lasting artistic partnerships.
The festival is run and curated by veteran musicians and producers Jan Bang and Erik Honoré, and at the heart of the festival roster is the large network of fellow artists they have worked with around the world. The live remixing is a recurrent and central element of the Punkt festival, and this year’s edition will again see artists doing live and immediate reworkings of concerts as they are being performed. Already confirmed is the Norwegian/French quartet Dans les Arbres and singer/composer Sidsel Endresen. David Sylvian will, as Artist in residence, present a special audiovisual installation, Uncommon Deities, incorporating musicians, artists and poets.
As part of the cultural programme of 'Tallinn: European Capital of Culture 2011', Punkt hosted two highly successful full-night concerts in Tallinn in late April '11 featuring artists such as Jon Hassel, The Noorus Choir, Engsemble U, Sidsel Endresen, Arve Henriksen and Eivind Aarseth in addition to Punkt founders Jan Bang and Erik Honoré.
When: 1-3 September