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. Below are the events that we feel represent the main spring, summer and early autumn jazz festivals:
Stavanger’s longest-running festival, MaiJazz has since its inception in 1989, developed into one of Norway's leading jazz festivals presenting international acts and the best of national and local jazz each spring. Around 150 volunteers gather to stage some 40 concerts on 20 stages in and around Stavanger that can accommodate from 80 to 1800 people.
Previous MaiJazz headliners include Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek Group, Gotan Project, Nils Petter Molvær, St Germain, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Youssou N'Dour, Joshua Redman, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Bobby McFerrin.
The 2012 programme is strong featuring such acts as Al di Meola & Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Marcus Miller, Roy Hargrove Quintet, Farmers Market, Allan Holdsworth band, Mats Eilertsen ”SkyDive”, Arena “w/Per Zanussi, Hilde Louise Asbjørnsen and Hoff / Mazur/ Jormin / Henriksen.
When: 8-13 May
Trondheim Jazz Festival
Trondheim Jazz Festival has existed since 1979 and has grown annually since the reestablishment in 1994. The festival features mainly contemporary Scandinavian and European jazz and focuses particularly on the interaction between the performers and the audience by means of the event’s popular Focus lectures. The Trondheim Jazz Festival also presents a vibrant festival for aspiring jazz musicians and a young audience - the Jazzfest Ung.
The Trondheim Jazz Festival is intrinsically linked to the Jazz Department at the university in Trondheim (NTNU) which has served as a greenhouse for Norwegian jazz talent for 30 years. Through celebrated artists like Nils Petter Molvær, Arve Henriksen, Stian Carstensen, Kristin Asbjørnsen, Tord Gustavsen, Ståle Storløkken and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Jazzfest is a connection point for EJN into this highly flourishing jazz environment. Trondheim represents an outer edge of the European jazz arena, but the city's cutting edge Nordic sound reach fans all over Europe and the rest of the world.
This year’s festival features a strong programme with such acts as Petter Wettre Next Generation, Bernhoft, Bugge Wesseltoft, Mari Kvien Brunvoll, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Splashgirl.
When: 11-14 May
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 curiosity 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.
2012 highlights include acts Esperanza Spalding, Bugge n’ Friends, Trespass Trio w/Joe McPhee, Silje Nergaard, Håkon Kornstad Tenor Battle, Tord Gustavsen Quartet, Cassandra Wilson, Arve Henriksen and Motorpsycho w/Ståle Storløkken.
When: 23 May - 2 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. 2012 highlights include Solveig Slettahjell and Morten Qvenild, Elephant9, Jon Balke Magnetic Book, Per Jørgensen and Friends, Atomic, Arve Henriksen/Audun Kleive/Helge Nordbakken plus The Thing w/ Agustí Fernández & Peter Evans,
When: 4-7 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 include Lovano/Douglas/Baron Quintet, Nils Petter Molvær, Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Jorge Rossy, The John Scofield Hollowbody Band, Bjørn Alterhaug Quintet, The Real Thing. Giovanna Pessi | Susanna Wallumrød, and Ane Brun.
Jon Balke is the 2012 Artist in Residence.
When: 16 – 21 July
Oslo Jazz Festival
2011 marked 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.
2012 highlights at the festival include Tord Gustavsen Quartet w/Susanna Wallumrød, Trondheim Jazzorkester & Stian Westerhus peforming composer Eirik Hegdal’s “Ripples, raptures and disbelief”, Karin Krog & Bengt Hallberg as well as a Oslo Opera House Opening Concert featuring Tony Bennett w/guest Antonia Bennett.
When: 13-17 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.
Legendary artist and producer Brian Eno is confirmed as Artistic Director of this year´s Punkt Festival held at the new Kilden Performing Arts Centre in Kristiansand, where he will present some of his current favourite artists and remixers. He will curate all nine concerts during the three day festival and, as with past editions, the artists’ performances will be remixed live after the concerts.
When: 6-8 September
The year’s jazz festival season is kick-started by the Vossa Jazz festival held prior to the Easter each year. With a varied line-up and a much-coveted commissioned work to be premiered, the festival represents innovation set in an idyllic and vibrant setting in picturesque Voss. In addition to the main programme, off-shoots such as events Badnajazz, youth programme UNGjaJAZZja, Eldrejazz and Ekstremjazz represent vital additions to a not-to-be-missed event.
The 2012 version of the festival featured an applauded work penned by composer and performer Karl Seglem.
When: 22-24 March 2013
Sildajazz - Haugesund International Jazz Festival
Haugesund’s Sildajazz festival attracts major crowds each August with its mix of traditional jazz and major contemporary pop and rock acts. Held in a marine setting in a truly charming Western city, Sildajazz represents a jazz destination quite out of the ordinary.
When: 08-12 August 2012
Lillehammer’s Dølajazz concludes the jazz festival season with four October days of top-notch Norwegian and international jazz acts in this cozy central-eastern city. The 2011 version of the festival featured acts such as Mathias Eick Quintet, Zanussi Five, Solveig Slettahjell & Morten Qvenild, Nils Petter Molvær Group and Sidsel Endresen & Stian Westerhus Duo.
When: 18-21 October 2012