Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2010
July 2-11, 2010
With the current crisis of the major record labels and the folding of venues all over the world, it could be argued that jazz, as an art form, has entered the age of survival where it is simply a basic matter of keeping the music alive, rather than trying to let it flourish and expand. However, there are also signs that the so-called crisis of the music business is the fuel that has fed the fire of a whole new wave of musicians and entrepreneurs who are re- thinking how jazz should be communicated and distributed to an audience. What drives them is their passion. They're not in it for the money, but for the love of the music.
The new entrepreneurial spirit of jazz was strongly felt at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2010 where a host of groundbreaking initiatives showed that jazz is not only able to survive, but also has the potential to regain its position as the popular music of our times, and this is no coincidence: It is hard to find a musical genre that is more balanced when it comes to giving a proper reflection of society. No other genre is able to reference and embrace its own historicity in the same way, while still being open to the post-modern permutations of genres. While classical music is about the past and pop music about the present, jazz music is about both: It is the music of then and now. Thus, the whole continuum of music history was reflected and transgressed at the festival, where everything from traditional Dixieland and mainstream swing to fiery avant-garde and genre-bending grooves echoed throughout the city.
The Music of the City and the City of Music
It must be emphasized that attending Copenhagen Jazz Festival isn't just a matter of hearing music, but also, in a way, a state of mind. Much has been said about the fairytale-like nature of the city where bicycles, rather than cars, are preferred, and green areas provide welcome hideouts for star-crossed lovers. However, what is most fascinating about the city is that, like New York, it has its own rhythm and its own beat, pulsating throughout the city.
The rhythm of Copenhagen isn't the hectic sounds of modernity or the nostalgic musings of yesteryear. Like jazz itself, it is something in-between. It is a sensual kind of swing that oozes out of every pore of its body. Jazz is literally everywhere: From remixing-sessions done at the top of the buildings to the soft hum of an old Chet Baker-record, heard late night at the harbor, and the joyful licks of skilled amateurs on the street corners, music isn't only played in venues, it embodies the city. Copenhagen is one big scene where one is just as likely to experience jazz in the zoo or the local mall as in the historical and beautiful surroundings of venues like the recently resurrected Jazzhus Montmartre.
As usual with the festival, the abundance of offers is a positive problem. To choose one good gig at any given day of the festival is the same as missing minimum five. However, staying for a long period in the city allows for a rich sample of the festival's luxurious program and it was also the case this time where the ticket included legends like singer/songwriter Caetano Veloso, pianists Herbie Hancock, Martial Solal and Kenny Barron, but, perhaps more interestingly, also modern groundbreakers like saxophonists Mark Turner and Joshua Redman, pianists Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer and avant-garde icons like pianist Marilyn Crispell, and saxophonist John Tchicai, not to mention a talented pool of Danish jazz musicians in trans-national collaborations, including the young pianist Rasmus Ehlers playing with saxophonist George Garzone, French guitarist Marc Ducret's new ensemble featuring drummer Peter Bruun and trumpeter Kasper Tranberg and last, but not least, the massive undertaking of saxophonist Benjamin Koppel who, together with pianist Kenny Werner hosted a star-studded mini-festival in the suburb of Valby, bringing in such heavyweights as drummer Al Foster, saxophonists Chris Potter and Bobby Watson, guitarist John Abercrombie and bassist Scott Colley.