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Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2014

Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2014
Henning Bolte By

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Copenhagen Jazz Festival
Copenhagen
July, 8-10, 2014

The ten-day Copenhagen Jazz Festival, with its 1,200 concerts, is maybe the largest of its kind in Europe. This number of concerts is the consequence of a unique concept. The core of the festival, with some international headliners, is a relatively small scale affair but there is a huge, still growing amount of associated venues (this year, 14 more) doing their own programming. All are coordinated and communicated by the central office of the core festival. Here the publicity before, during and after the festival is done, including responsibility for the festival app. Besides that there are also a couple of satellite/off-festivals. This is a very brief description of an extended complex network of actors and organizations.

For Danish musicians, this kind of setup and organization offers lots of possibilities to play and perform as part of the festival, as well as providing opportunities to team up with both American and other European musicians. Consequently, Danish musician do a fairly high number of gigs, spread throughout town, during these ten days. Often, they even play a number of venues in a single day, the logistics all self-organized—on bikes, in many cases.

As a visitor, you have to make choices in advance: for a certain period; for certain musicians or groups; for a certain area; the venue; the kind of music; or some combination of all these criteria. The festival app is useful, but notwithstanding you have to take good notice of Copenhagen's topography before starting. Staying in a certain area gives visitors the possibility of gaining an intimate acquaintance with summery life in town, and after returning a few times, you will become familiar with Copenhagen. Whatever choice one makes as a foreign visitor, it is advisable to rent a bike. It is the best way to move from one place to another, and Copenhagen is a distinctive, bike-friendly city. As a returning visitor you can go on to discover unknown parts and corners. This year it was places spread over the city: KoncertKirken, in the northern Nørrebro district; Kvarterhuset, in the eastern Amagerbro district, situated near the seaside; KB 18 at Kødbyen, the meatpacking district near central station; and the Betty Hansen Theatre in Frederiksberg. Frederiksberg is a special case. De facto, it appears as a district of Copenhagen, but formally it is a separate entity, a municipality of its own with nearly 103,000 inhabitants encapsulated by Copenhagen.

Three days of the festival were covered and concerts by six groups at various locations were attended: an ensemble around the famous Danish recorder player Michala Petri at Betty Hansen Theatre; Jakob Bro/Thomas Knak, with bassist Thomas Morgan and vj Sune Blicher at KB 18; two groups at KoncertKirken in Nørrebro (a duo with Johanna Borchert and Maria Laurette Friis, and a trio featuring pianist Jakob Anderskov, bassist Nils Davidsen and American drummer Tyshawn Sorey; American pianist Aaron Parks' trio, in Amagerbro; and the odd Danish unit Frisk Frugt at Frederiksberg Have, Frederiksberg's vast and wonderful park.

Summer Jazz Valby

Due to short-term decisions, this year's route started with a new and largely unknown entity: a concert at Betty Nansen Theatre with Michala Petri. Starting at Frederiksberg's Betty Nansen Theatre meant a double speciality, and not only the peculiarity of Frederiksberg. The concert at the theatre was part of Summer Jazz Valby, which is an independent jazz festival taking place during the same period as the overall Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Both are, at best, loosely connected. Valby is a southwestern suburban district of Copenhagen, with an air of "outside" and "independence." In the past, Valby housed the big Carlsberg brewery, the cotton industry and film studios. With the redevelopment of the brewery and other industrial areas into a new, lively and high-density neighborhood, Valby is now one of the city's areas with the fastest growing population.

Summer Jazz Valby, organized by Cowbell Productions, started in 2009 with Danish saxophonist Benjamin Koppel and American pianist Kenny Werner as artistic directors. Cowbell also has a record label that documents the productions of its festival artists. Cowbell is a young small-scale organization that is highly motivated, professional, straightforward, caring and clear, with supportive communication.

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