Although today jazz is a world phenomenon, there are special jazz spots on the planet.
These are cities where style or, better to say, the whole phenomenon has arisen and formed, places where the largest jazz events take place, as well as points on the map where the most current transformations of jazz are taking place right now.
Eternal Jazz Capitals
New Orleans (USA): how it all began
In the French Quarter of New Orleans today, like a hundred years ago, street musicians play everywhere, and not only during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival or the Mardi Gras carnival, but throughout the rest of the day … and nights
Perhaps the most non-American of all American cities is not without reason called the cradle of jazz. According to some data, jazz was born in the local Zlachny district of Storyville (Storyville), when around 1895 there was a black cornetist among brothels, drug addicts and pubs (the cornet is practically a modern pipe, it only looks a little different, and the instrument has a different mechanism holes in the tubes) Buddy Bolden (Buddy Bolden) assembled an ensemble to play fashionable then ragtime, but with all the key elements of jazz. According to others, in 1917, when Nick LaRocca and his Original Dixieland Jass Band (no typos in the title, note) released the first ever jazz audio record in history – Livery Stable Blues. Both musicians were natives of New Orleans.
However, in fact, everything probably began not with them, but with the gatherings of hundreds of black slaves in the local Congo Square that took place every Sunday at the beginning of the 19th century. On the only day of the week when they were freed from their work, the slaves played simple musical instruments with the melodies and rhythms of Africa, which they were never destined to see. Or maybe jazz began with funeral brass bands running through the city’s streets and ensembles in the dance halls. Anyway, all this happened right here – in a hot, battered city located at the mouth of the great Mississippi River.
New York (USA): the place of maturation
One of the legendary places in New York is the Harlem Concert Hall Apollo Theater, which since 1914 has seen more stars than other astronomers. Among them are the jazz legends Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Art Black, Horace Silver, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, and many, many others. And besides jazz, there was also soul, rock and roll, gospel music. It is not surprising that now more than a million tourists visit Apollo every year.
Born in New Orleans, jazz soon captured all of America, and New York became its new focus. In the 1920s, which F.S. Fitzgerald was the first to call the jazz age (Jazz Age), jazz was played here not only in “decent” places like Carnegie Hall, but also in rather dangerous, semi-underground spikizi-bars with illegal drinking. It was then that the legendary The Back Room and The Cotton Club appeared, where you could still find segregated African Americans and deadly gangsters and titans of the genre – for example, Duke Ellington, who with his orchestra regularly played in The Cotton Club for at least five years (since 1927) and often dropped in at the club later.
With the completion of the roaring twenties, jazz in New York is not over. On the contrary, in 1935, the legendary Village Vanguard was opened, in 1949 – the even more legendary Birdland, the holy saints of jazz, where all the patriarchs of style seemed to perform.
All of these places, as well as hundreds of others, are still open today – from the large and world famous Blue Note to the small type Smalls, very similar in atmosphere to those chthonic, originally from the 1920s – 1930s. Is that now you can not smoke in them, and to drink, on the contrary, it is possible, and more than legitimately.
Havana (Cuba): wind from the south
Jazz in Havana may not be as sophisticated as in New York or in northern Europe, but it is closer to people and roots.
There is no doubt that jazz has African roots, but already in his childhood years he experienced the strongest influence from Latin America, in particular from Cuba. Just from there, Spanish melodies and rhythms came to New Orleans and to the north, which mixed well with African ones. Thus, the habanera is clearly audible in the protojazz plays of the second decade of the last century, and in the next decade they begin to use congas, bongos and other specific instruments in jazz.
This is not surprising: even at that time, a ferry went twice a day between the New Orleans and Havana, and there was active communication between the residents, mostly former slaves. By the mid-1940s, Afro-Cuban jazz stood out in a separate genre and acquired its leaders, one of which is Macito.
After the Second World War, great American musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker paid attention to Afro-Cuban jazz, and Cuban elements penetrated into the jazz of the East Coast of the USA and strengthened there for many years, and in New York in the middle of the 20th century style in Cuba. But if where and go for Afro-Cuban jazz today, then clearly not in New York, but there, to the birthplace of style. In clubs and small cafes, on the streets and on the terraces of battered Havana, you can find professional musicians and talented amateurs – jazz sounds here, like a century ago, like the music of ordinary people.
Paris (France): throw across the ocean
On the small street Lombard, in the I and IV districts of Paris, there are just three main jazz clubs of the French capital – Le Baiser Salé, Le Duc des Lombards and Sunset / Sunside
American jazz moved to Europe during the First World War – with American soldiers. The new-fashioned style, along with swing and ragtime, was very much loved by the capitals of the Old World, but was especially well received in bright and cosmopolitan Paris. At the end of the Great War, black musicians from America were drawn to the French capital – not least because racial prejudices were practically absent in Paris, especially compared to New York. Jazz quickly captured the clubs of the city, as well as the hearts and minds of Parisians and – more broadly – Europeans. By the mid-thirties, local superstars appeared here – for example, the creator of gipsy jazz Django Reinhard and violinist Stephan Grappelli.
Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Tommy Iommi and many other famous musicians of the second half of the 20th century recognized that it was Reinhard who had a deep influence on them, and his music became one of the sound symbols of the 1930s.
During the Second World War, music in Paris did not subside – on the contrary, jazz was the connection of the occupied Paris with the outside world, and after 1945 no tour of the titans of the style took place without a date in this city.
It is not surprising that jazz sounds here and today – be it the aforementioned golden triangle of Lombard street (Rue des Lombards), parks lawns during the Paris Jazz Festival in June – July or small basements where they are going to play and listen to music over a sandwich and a glass of wine. professionals and amateurs.
Cape Town (South Africa): Blood Call
The best time to visit Cape Town is for music lovers – the end of March and the beginning of April. It was at this time, at the end of the South African autumn, the most comfortable time for exploring the city, here is the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the fourth largest in the world and the largest in Africa. Every year it starts with a free concert on the central street of Greenmarket Square.
Where to go for jazz, if not to the ancestral home of its creators, to Africa! The most suitable place for this today is Cape Town. This city is just like jazz: it is a fusion of various cultures: African, European, Asian, and the music sounds appropriate here. Moreover, the city is quite safe (in comparison with the rest of Africa) and in recent years attracts tourists not only with music, although there is enough music, especially jazz and especially in the days of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
In the afternoon, head to the Zeitz MOCAA Museum of Modern African Art (“African Tate Modern,” as the locals call it), take a stroll through the colorful Bo-Cap district, take a trip to the ocean beach or climb Table Mountain, and go to the clubs on Monday and Friday in Lounge 021 @ Swingers, where both African jazz and supranational experimental are played, on Tuesday – in Asoka, where excellent cuisine is served, and every Sunday afternoon on the veranda of Kloof Street House they give a free concert. On other days, Thuthuka Jazz Café, Jackson Hall and dozens of other places are waiting for you, where the most diverse jazz blends in perfectly with local wines.
Copenhagen (Denmark): dissenting opinion
Jazzhus Monmartre is the most famous jazz club of Copenhagen, but far from the only one. Residents of Scandinavia and, in particular, of Denmark love jazz and are proud of the contribution of their musicians to its development, and the Danish government even finances a special organization JazzDanmark that helps Danish jazzmen and promotes them on the European and world stage.
Scandinavian jazz is cold, sometimes shrill, aloof. It is considered to be a relatively new trend that began in the late 1960s and reached its heyday in the next decade, but the jazz as a whole came to the region early: in 1923 the Dane Valdermer Ayberg formed the first jazz orchestra, and a year later released the first jazz record in Denmark , and perhaps in the whole of Scandinavia.
In the past four decades, musicians in Sweden, Denmark and especially Norway have made bold experiments with form and sound (yes, free jazz was very fond of harsh northern people), mixing styles and instruments for creating sounds. For example, the frequent guest of the Moscow festival Jazz Manor, the jazz pioneer Niels-Petter Molver boldly and masterfully connects electronics and jazz improvisation, ali saxophonist Jan Garbarek, who contributed to the meeting of jazz and Renaissance chorals.
The main, though far from the only, jazz place in the capital of the Danish kingdom is the legendary club Jazzhus Montmartre, in which Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and many other musicians from all over the world have performed. It is also important because the largest and most famous event associated with Scandinavian jazz and jazz in Scandinavia in general, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, has been held in 1979, including in these walls.
Festival capitals – the “big three”
The six cities that we have listed above are the permanent world capitals of jazz, but, besides them, there are also temporary, shifting ones. Those can be considered cities in which once a year the most famous, important and large jazz festivals take place.
Montreal (Canada): the largest jazz festival in the world
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal annually gathers about 3,000 musicians from several dozen countries of the world and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators. In 2004, the festival even hit the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in terms of the number of spectators – that year there were more than 2 million
Hundreds of concerts take place in clubs, concert halls and open-air venues within one and a half weeks, and many events are free to the public. This is such an important event for the city that many districts in its central part are closed to automobile traffic during the festival and are completely given to musicians and music lovers.
In 2018, the festival will be held from June 28 to July 7 – there is still time to buy tickets and plan a trip. If you don’t have time, you can go to Montreal in October, when the alternative L’Off Jazz festival organized by jazz musicians takes place in accordance with their vision and ideas. He, of course, less ambitious, but also very interesting.
Montreux (Switzerland): the largest in Europe and number two in the world
Montreux, a small town on the shores of Lake Geneva, in the foothills of the Alps, has been attracting musicians from all over the world for the second century. At various times, Peter Tchaikovsky, Igor Stravinsky, Freddie Mercury lived here (a monument to him can be seen in the photo above) and David Bowie. But in the beginning of July, every year, since 1976, the concentration of music in the pure mountain air has increased many times: the city is the second largest in the world after the Montreux Montreux Jazz Festival.
Despite the “highly specialized” name, today the Montreux Festival is more than jazz: it attracts musicians who play in a variety of styles, from classical to rap, both professionals and beginners. For the latter, even organized a competition.
The main feature of the Montreux Jazz Festival is diversity: here everyone can find an event to their liking: from free concerts in the park, where some musicians will replace others for several hours without a break, to private events held on a small ship sailing on the waters of Geneva lakes.
Monterey (USA): one of the oldest in the world
This year, for the 61st time since 1958, the Monterey Jazz Festival, one of the oldest regularly held jazz festivals in the world, will be held outdoors among the oaks in the California town of Monterey. How many legendary musicians have seen and legendary concerts heard these oaks – it seems there was not a single major jazz name in the second half of the last century that would not appear on the posters of the festival in Monterey.
In comparison with two other festivals, this section of Monterey seems to be quite small – only three days (this year September 21–23), only 8 hectares of territory and only two main platforms, and not even hundreds of musicians. But they are the most different – veterans and very young, native Americans and visitors from Japan and Africa.
This year, among other things, will perform, for example, the orchestra of American naval sailors from New Orleans – 32nd Street Brass Band; they promise to create an atmosphere of Bourbon Street on the West Coast during Mardi Gras.
Rotterdam (Holland): the biggest indoor festival
On the way home from Montreal or Montreux, by all means take a look at Rotterdam, because in the second half of July (this year, July 13–15), the “world’s largest jazz festival in closed premises” – North Sea Jazz – is held here. On four floors of the Ahoy Rotterdam complex, musicians are gathered from a wide variety of backgrounds and performing in a variety of compositions, from classical chamber trios to symphony orchestras.
In the past few years, the North Sea Jazz Kids, a children’s game, is held in front of an adult North Sea Jazz, designed to acquaint children with jazz, musical instruments and in general how music is created.
The art of creating a festival poster here came up with fiction: since 2006, before the festival, a competition has been organized for students of the local art school – the Willem de Kooning Academy, who are invited to come up with the design of an official poster. Shortly before the festival begins, the winner is announced, and the works of the finalists go to the exhibition. Above – the work of Nelleke van Lomwell, who won last year. Works of winners of previous years are also published on the festival website.
Something important is happening here too. Krakow (Poland)
The main jazz place behind the Iron Curtain was, without a doubt, Poland. Dozens of talented musicians from this country were well known in the USSR, and Polish jazz became an independent phenomenon with a unique sound and approach to writing and performing.
To get acquainted with this phenomenon, go in the second half of July to Krakow. First, the Jazz Summer Festival will be held there, and secondly, at this time of the year, it is best to go there and see the sights (the city suffered little during World War II – the old buildings are well preserved in it). And if you don’t coincide with the festival, you can easily find music to taste in the Old Town, in parks and squares.
Tel Aviv (Israel)
Although jazz came to Palestine during the time of the British Mandate, it became a truly serious and noticeable phenomenon on the world stage in the Middle East in the mid-1990s not without the participation of today’s well-known musicians Avisai Cohen, Omer Avital and Avi Lebovich.
Israeli jazz is interesting because, although it was made according to American patterns (a large number of Israeli jazzmen studied in the US), it is also saturated with oriental flavor – here there are unusual rhythms, strange harmony to the European-American ear, and wild pressure. And all because of Israeli jazz history klezmer, folk music of Eastern Europe, Morocco and Yemen.
In summer, Tel Aviv is uncomfortable because of the heat, so the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival takes place in December (and in February Eilat also organizes the Red Sea Jazz Festival) – a great way to get acquainted with all the shades of local exotics.
The greatest concentration of jazz lovers, according to some sources, is observed not at all in the United States or Norway, as one might think, but in Japan. Moreover, jazz entered the islands not at all with the American soldiers, as one might think again, and much earlier – back in the 1920s, when the first dance halls opened in Osaka and Kobe. And since Japanese culture is very peculiar, closed and with great distrust relates to phenomena penetrating from the outside, local jazz has a very specific Japanese or, more broadly, Asian sound, and echoes of folk songs or Buddhist prayers are heard in the plays.
Not surprisingly, here, in addition to hundreds of other institutions, there is a branch of the New York club Blue Note and several major festivals.
Turkey was lucky with jazz: its rapid spread throughout the world accounted for just a decade of Europeanization of the country in the first half of the last century. The new style took root, merged with the local and in general with Islamic musical traditions and gave a huge number of amazing artists and recordings. Today, jazz is in demand in the country no less than in the last century. This was awarded to at least two jazz festivals in Istanbul (Akbank Caz Festival and Istanbul International Jazz Festival), as well as a dozen more in other cities, including Ankara, Izmir and even Alanya resort, and many interesting places.
Moscow, Russia – Jazz Manor Festival
The main jazz event in Russia in the last ten years is the Jazz Manor Festival. Why is it? Firstly, because it is a showcase of what is happening in jazz in the territory of the countries of the former USSR, and not only experienced musicians, but also young people and even children (for them the Jazz Kids Estate stage, contests, master classes and other activities). Secondly, the festival is very diverse: in open areas there is a place for jazz musicians, rockers, and bluesmen, that is, any high-quality music. Thirdly, in recent years, “Jazz Manor” is not only the usual Moscow Region Archangel, but also sites in five other cities of Russia. In general, to get acquainted with the jazz scene of the largest (but not the most jazz, let’s be honest) countries in the world, there is no better place to find.