European Jazz Conference 2018
Centro Cultural de Belém Lisbon
September 13-15, 2018
It was on the very edge of South-Western Europe, in Lisbon, that the European Jazz Conference celebrated its fifth annual gathering. The three hundred plus delegates from thirty five countries who convened in the Centro Cultural de Belém represented a record attendance for the largest, functioning jazz network in the world. In essence, the European Jazz Conference unites member organisations of the Europe Jazz Network in what is as much a celebration of 'family' as it is an organism that promotes cultural interchange, better working practices and improved understanding of the forces---political, economic and technologicalthat impact upon jazz across Europe in the twenty first century.
The Portuguese capital was a particularly fitting location for the EJC given the conference's theme, "On the Edge"a reference to geographical and cultural peripheries as well as musical ones. Portugal may sit on the edge of the continent, yet it is a cultural melting pot, the legacy of five centuries of global exploration and colonisation in Africa, South America and Asia.
Despite the diversity of its population and its sizeable contribution to the arts and sciences, however, Portugal has somehow often been on the margins of Europe, not just geographically, but politically and culturally too, to some extent. In large part, Portugal's relative isolation in the twentieth century can be put down to forty years of authoritarian rule from the 1930s to the mid-1970s, under the divisive figure of António de Oliveira Salazar and the Estado Novo. In 1971, Charlie Haden
in Portugal with Ornette Coleman
's quartetgot on the wrong side of the Estado Novo when, after dedicating a song to the anticolonial revolutionaries in the Portuguese colonies of Guinea, Mozambique and Angola, he was arrested, jailed and interrogated.That, however, was a long time ago.
There are doubtless numerous reasons why Portuguese jazz is not so well known internationally and it wouldn't be fair to lay all the blame at Salazar's door. Quite simply, the fact that Portugal is far removed from the centre of Europe makes touring a lot more difficult for Portuguese jazz artists. It's perhaps not entirely unrelated that Portuguese record labels dealing in jazz also lack international penetration. One notable exception is Pedro Costa's Clean Feed Records
, which has done much to promote and raise the profile of contemporary Portuguese jazzand more besidesin the last two decades. But despite Costa's efforts the fact remains that Portuguese jazz artists, in the main, seem to be off the radar of most international jazz festivals.
With this in mind, the EJC's Portuguese jazz showcases provided an important opportunity for the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, Impermanence, Bode Wilson Trio, Axes, Pedro Melo Alves' Omniae Ensemble, Quarteto Beatriz Nunes and TGB, to play before jazz festival directors, booking agents, jazz club owners and journalists from across Europe. Fringe festival concerts in venues around Lisbon showcased the Eduardo Cardinho Trio, Lisbon Underground Music Orchestra, Rodrigo Amado Trio, Andre Fernandes Centauri, Joana Machado, Pedro Segundo/Ross Stanley, and the Andre Carvahlo Group.
The relatively sparse attendance of EJC delegates at the showcase performances in the CCB must have been slightly disheartening for the musicians, who surely saw their selection for the showcases as potential springboards to much wider exposure. Whilst some delegates might have been in meetings it doesn't explain the absenteeism of so many. One of the Portuguese hosts was prompted to say that the conference should not be seen primarily as an opportunity for cultural tourism.
There was, in fact, scheduled opportunity for tourism, with a choice of six guided heritage walks on Friday afternoon and a selection of cultural tours through four of Lisbon's most historic quarters on Sunday morning. The heritage walks were introduced with great success at the 2017 EJC
in Ljubliana, Slovenia and, apart from helping to put the conference location as well as the music into a physical and historical context, they also provide a welcome breather from the hermetic conference environment.
The music presented over the course of the EJC will be covered in a separate article by Henning Bolte
Much ritual and ceremony surrounds the EJC, though the necessary formality and tight organisation is tempered by an extremely relaxed atmosphere. Board meetings, opening and closing ceremonies, keynote speeches, panel debates, discussion groups, awards and mention of achievements of special merit, were nearly all presented by Ros Rigby, who was stepping down from her role as President of the European Jazz Network after six productive years.
Rigby has overseen a busy period of EJN activity marked by some notable achievements. The publication of editor Francesco Martinelli
's book project A History of European Jazz: The Music, Musicians and Audience in Context
(Equinox Publishing, 2018)the culmination of years of collective effortwas a particularly laudable achievement, while the passing of the EJN's Gender Manifesto should ensure greater gender balance in all areas of the EJN's practices.
Rigby has been succeeded by Jan Ole Otnaes of Nasjonal Jazzscene, Norway. In the official handing-over ceremony Rigby was presented with a huge bouquet of flowers. The flowers may eventually pass from Rigby's memory but it is highly unlikely that she will ever forget the sustained standing ovation and outpouring of goodwill from her many EJN colleagues and friends.
Friday: Keynote Speech # 1 Maria João: Journeys on the Edge
The main business got under away with the first keynote speech, given by Portuguese singer Maria Joao
. In a stellar career, this unique singer/improviser has worked with Bobby McFerrin
, Joe Zawinul
, Dino Saluzzi
, Ralph Towner
, Gilberto Gil
and Wolfgang Muthspiel
. Her most enduring collaboration, however, has been with pianist Mário Laginha
with whom she has recorded numerous albums of great depth and beauty.
An opening video showed an extraordinary close-up of João's vocal chords/articulators -working the soundtrack of the song "Good Morning." It was a striking piece of theatre, not unlike Samuel Beckett's Not I
, though without the nerve-shredding effect. João then talked with pride about her mixed Mozambique/Portuguese heritage and the bullying she receivedand stood up toas a child because of her appearance. A light-hearted, group-warm-up session followed, with stretching and vocal exercises -a practise, João emphasized, which is an essential part of her routine before singing.
João spoke of her seminal influences -singers such as Betty Carter
, Ella Fitzgerald
, Billie Holiday
, Bobby McFerrin
, Urszula Dudziak
. She singled out Brazilian singer Elis Regina
as a particulary significant influence. The major thread of her slightly rambling though passionate talk centred on the demands and rewards of music, and the changing nature of the music industry. "Before it was just the music but now there are so many things around the music," João lamented. Interestingly, João related how she felt that she had never experienced sexual discrimination throughout her career.
A romantic at heart, João said that an artist shouldn't really have to do anything except focus on their art -a rather utopian wish in a very competitive, unforgiving, modern world. If João did offer some practical advice to musicians, it was to strive for self-identity, and to fight and fight again to succeed.
Open Panel Debate: Portuguese Jazz in the European Context
The first panel debate of the weekend focused on Portuguese jazz and the challenges facing Portuguese jazz musicians with regards to touring and collaborating with other musicians abroad. The panel, which was moderated by jazz historian, author and Director of Siena Jazz, Francesco Martinelli was dominated by Pedros: Pedro Guedes, Director of the Orquestra de Matosinhos; Pedro Costa, Clean Feed record label manger and promoter; Pedro Cravinho, author and researcher; Rui Eduardo Paes, author, journalist, promotor; and Beatriz Nunes, musician.
Cravinho, who contributed the chapter on Portugal in A History of European Jazz: The Music, Musicians and Audience in Context
(Equinox, 2018) began by describing the country's earliest jazz musicians. Despite Portugal's geographical isolation and the aforementioned decades of right-wing, conservative rule, Cravinho spoke of the presence of Spanish jazz musicians in the main, but also French, Belgian, Dutch and Swiss jazz musicians who played in Portugal from the 1950s. Evidence suggests, Cravinho said, that prior to 1974 foreigners provided the main body of jazz musicians in Portugal. "The professional jazz scene came later than in other European countries."
Paes, likewise a contributor to the Portuguese chapter of A History of European Jazz...
pointed to forty eight years of political, cultural and social isolation as the main reason why professionalism in Portuguese jazz did not really take off until the period just prior to and after the revolution in the mid-1970s. Isolation, said Costa, remains one of the key impediments to the diffusion of Portuguese jazz today. Pedro Guerdes described the "logistical nightmare" of attempting to take the seventeen-piece Orquestra Matosinhos outside Portugal.
Pedro Costa agreed, stating simply that for Portuguese musicians to have a greater impact on the European scene then greater financial support to cover travelling expenses was needed. The dual challenges facing Portuguese musicians, Costa said, were a limited audience at home and the logistical and economic difficulties in playing abroad.
As Costa underlined, more and more jazz musicians of real quality are emerging in Portugal with the talent to perform to any international audience. Perhaps one of the key functions of the EJN moving forward, should be to place greater emphasis on facilitating funding to support touring musicians, which is, after all, the life-blood of jazz.
Beatriz Nunes, a member of the internationally renowned group Madredeus, and the leader of her own group, pointed to the growth of jazz studies outside of the major urban centres in Portugal, a development which she predicted would have a positive impact in the next ten to fifteen years. Although the projects, and proposals for projects, from Portuguese jazz musicians are of an increasingly higher standard, Nunes said, the national market remains small. "It's important to think globally," Nunes advised. She also recounted a recent trip to New York where she participated in a singing workshop with Bobby McFerrin, and singers from Brazil and Argentina, saying that she felt this type of cross-cultural collaboration was not possible in Portugal.
This last comment came as a surprise given Portugal's multi-national, multi-ethnic society. Why cross-cultural projects seem to be uncommon was not directly touched upon, but despite having the world inside their country, all the Portuguese bands on the showcase stages were strikingly homogenous. "We're not integrated at all," Costa remarked candidly.
In the Q&A session that followed, Dragon Ambrozic, program director of Belgrade Jazz Festival spoke of the success of Portuguese bands at his festival in the last decade, describing their sound as "something fresh in jazz." His audience, he related now ask him which Portuguese bands are coming next year to the festival.
Obviously not all Portuguese jazz bands find such open arms at jazz festivals around Europe. For a Portuguese Radio journalist in attendance, one reason why they might not get so many opportunities is due to what he sees as their lack of self-promotion skills, for example, in providing striking press-releases, high-definition photographs, quality professional videos etc. "Where is the professionalism?" asked the radio journalist, suggesting that jazz musicians could learn a lot from the professional marketing standards typical of classical musicians. He urged Portuguese jazz musicians to embrace the internet and the radiowhich requires professional-standard promotional materialin order to raise their international profile.
Alyn Shipton, author and BBC radio jazz presenter reiterated the importance for jazz bands to actively pursue radio exposure, citing the BBC World Service broadcast of Maria João in concert in 1996, which reached an estimated audience of one hundred and forty million listeners.
There was plenty of food for thought from this panel debate. If the audience for jazz in Portugal is small, then the panel agreed that thinking globally is necessary in order for jazz musicians to advance. Perhaps too, greater efforts at integration at home might not only open new musical doors for Portuguese jazz musicians but might also result in a broader audience. It is not enough, the Portuguese journalist said, to concentrate only on the music, as Maria João perhaps did when she started out in the late 1970s, because in an ever-more competitive world, taking care of business is an essential arm in establishing a career in jazz.
A final thought from Pedro Cravinho proposed that the EJN might be able to leverage its weight and influence to help European jazz musicians cut through the red tape to obtain working visas to tour the United States of America.
Parallel Discussion Groups
A significant feature of every EJC are the parallel discussion groups aimed at sharing expertise and knowledge between music professionals. The discussion groups were cut from ten last year to five this year, which reflected the EJC's desire to focus on precise projects and thematic areas for development, while jettisoning the more networking-based groups -an activity which could be carried out in more sociable circumstances in the extra time allotted. The panel discussions, held in the numerous rooms of the CCB, reflected the broad concerns of the EJN.
Subjects explored this year included: approaches to jazz programming worldwide; developing a jazz strategy for a city; the demographics of jazz audiences; the latest in jazz research; and current marketing trends across Europe.
Always keen to expand the network and deepen knowledge, the EJC has seen the benefits of drawing on outside expertise. Over the years this has been reflected in the variety of Keynote speakers and guest panellists, which in addition to music specialists, has also embraced the worlds of academia, journalism, research and technology.
To this end, the presence of Scott Cohen, co-founder of the world's leading digital distribution company, The Orchard, ensured a full house for his discussion group in the Sala Fernando Pessoa. Under the title, Jazz: The Medium and the Message
Cohen examined the latest marketing trends across Europe and invited the audience to imagine what the panorama will look like ten years from now. Perhaps the most interesting question, however, asked how new technologies can be harnessed to promote jazz.
It's a question that is of increasing importance in a time when technology advances at vertiginous speeds.
As streaming replaces downloading and as the digital storage of music puts practically the entire jazz cannon in people's mobile devices, our relationship with music is changing. Sure, the generation weaned on vinyl and CDs will doubtless continue to pour over gatefold albums with their artwork and liner notes, but this is no longer the model for the vast majority of the music-consuming public.
On the way from Lisbon airport to their respective hotels, it would be interesting to know how many of the EJC delegates had their eyes peeled for concert posters to try and glean what artists were in town or what festivals were on. In the same journey, most teenagers or twenty-somethings, using their smartphones would have found out the gig for the evening, mapped out the route to the venue from the hotel, booked an Uber taxi and sourced the best nightlife for later.
Old, time-honored methods of promotion, it seems, will continue to connect to the same old audienceold being the key word herebut will likely fail to attract new, younger audiences, who are far too hip to take heed of pasted posters in urban centres.
One example of the sort of new technology that is arguably going to revolutionize the experience of live concerts was making the rounds at the EJC. Okay, so virtual reality headsets have been around for some years now but advances in audio-technology have come on leaps and bounds. Demonstrating just where the new VR technology currently is with its Jazz360 Project were Fabio Massimo Constantinti, Roberto Vassura and Barbara Stolecka of Jazz Network. A cultural association formed in Ravena in 1987, Jazz network was one of the founding members of the Europe Jazz Network and organizes around sixty concerts annually for both the Crossroads and Ravena Jazz festivals.
Many delegates at the EJC experienced the VR headset, which played recordings of live concerts shot with 360 degrees VR technology and in stereoscopic 3D. The visceral experience of being 'on stage' with the band looking out at the audience, or swivelling around to see the musicians in close-up, with the technical crew in the wings, is an entirely new audio-visual experience. Visually and acoustically the quality is extremely good and this aspect of VR technology is only going to improve with time.
As it stands, with live VR streaming already a possibility, groups will potentially be able to reach a much larger audienceand a global one at thatthan the limited capacity of the venue.
Does the VR technology represented by the Jazz360 represent a threat to live music -the bread and butter of so many jazz musicians? Probably not. There will likely be occasions when the VR live-streaming option is preferable to, say, travelling a long distance to see a gig and returning home in the wee hours of the morning, with work looming a few, short hours later. There is, however, nothing quite like going to a gig with mates. VR headsets cannot, and never will be able to reproduce the social aspect of attending a live concert, in all its manifestations.
If jazz venues are the churches for the jazz congregation, then VR headsets are the equivalent of the CD popped through the letterbox for those who were unable to attend last Sunday's church service. This is not to dismiss VR technology, not at all, for it seems clear that the fully immersive, virtual concert experience as pioneered by the Jazz360 project will quietly revolutionize how many people around the world relate to live music. It could be the very tool that provides the gateway to jazz for new audiences.
As a footnote to the issue of attracting new audiences, a recurrent theme of the conference and a particulary salient one in Tina Heine's discussion group, Jazz: Who's Coming?
was the question of knowing your audience. These days festivals and venues use all manner of research toolsthough mainly the old-fashioned questionnaireto build a picture of their audience -their ages, distances travelled, musical preferences, how they heard about the festival/gig, and so on and so forth.
There is, however, another approach, one that might bear significant fruit if implemented in a meaningful way.
The suggestion from one delegate was to interview individuals and do focus groups with members of the public who never come to jazz. Knowing what turns people off from jazz could provide the more meaningful answers to the question of how to build audiences. Prior to such a survey or surveys being carried out, I would hazard a guess that for most people jazz is associated with 'difficult' music that is the preserve of the cognoscenti, music played by old men for old men, music that is highbrow and elitist, music that is expensive to attend and played predominantly in late-night clubs.
This may be partially true, and certainly the make-up of the Europe Jazz Conference delegates conformed almost entirely with the white, middle-class, middle-aged profile that may be a turn-off to a much broader spectrum of citizens.
Yet what if those interviewed and those who participated in focus groups could be persuaded that jazz is just as diverse as pop and rock music, with something for everyone's taste?
What if they were made aware of the more melodious and accessible varieties of jazz, (George Benson, E.S.T., Pat Metheny, Cassandra Wilson, The Yellowjackets)? What about the funkiest and most danceable jazz (Sons of Kemet, The Hot Brass Band)? What of the plethora of brilliant and highly diverse female jazz artists (Carla Bley
, Maria Schneider
, Nubya Garcia, Laura Jurd
, Esperanza Spalding, Mary Halvorson
, Susana Risberg....) who belie the 'music made by old men for old men' tag? What if they could see the diverse influences in modern jazz, from hip-hop and drum 'n' bass to electronica?
For those who think jazz is not serious music in the way classical music is, then let them hear the orchestral projects of Roscoe Mitchell
, Wadada Leo Smith
, Marius Neset
or Tim Garland
What if they could see that most jazz gigs cost a fraction of a ticket for a major rock or pop act? What if they could see that jazz is played by young and old alike, that it is a music that continually evolves, absorbing new rhythms and vocabulary from myriad sources? What if they could see that jazz embraces the latest technologies? What if they could see that jazz is played in most corners of the world, in locations both mundane and fabulously exotic? What if they could see that jazz can be fun, emotive, uplifting, meditative and many more things beside? What if they could see that jazz can be a tool for personal development, for social engagement, for leadership?
Is it possible, via a strategic form of outreach, that more people from different walks of life might come to know and love jazz as much as any other form of music they already know?
Keynote Speech #2 Kelly Snook: Concordia, Shaving the Yak
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Spotify Director Francois Pachet was unable to attend the EJC, where he had been due to give a speech on the subject of artificial intelligence in composition and improvisation. In his place, Professor Kelly Snook, stepped up from the panel at short notice to deliver a fascinating talk all about goals and possibilities -both technological and personal. That Snook was suffering from pneumonia made her efforts all the more impressive, though Snook, clearly, is someone who doesn't let a major obstacle stand in her way.
Over the course of an hour Snook described her major achievements, and they are many, as simply a series of inter-related tasks -one task logically leads onto to the next in the chain, and so on. She termed this step-by-step process as Shaving the Yak. In this way, for Snook at least, no goal is insurmountable. With such a philosophy as her guiding light, Snook went from being a drop-out musician to studying aerospace engineering, obtaining a PHD and becoming a NASA scientist -working in the areas where science and technology overlap.
The siren call of music, however, still rang in her head, and during her PHD she learned how to become a music producer. Cunningly, she invented an area of scientific research related to music and, having maxed out the credit card in a music store, then proceeded to build a music studio in an unused corner of NASA. Of course, she had to teach herself how to build a music studio first. Then, she taught herself how to use one. You see? Just one simple task after another.
Fast forward through a few more tasksat least a couple of shaven yaks worth-and Snook found herself exploring the music of the human body and the music of the spheres as a means to investigate the world and the essence of existence, naturally. This tied in with the theories of Johannes Kepler, the 17th century German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer best known for his laws on planetary movement, who believed that the secrets of the universe were held in its harmonies. A few more tasks loomed on the horizon.
A few computer language and software programs later, and after a meeting with Imogen Heap, Snook left NASA, moved to the UK and began working with Heap as her studio manager. Heap's desire to harness technology and push its boundaries led her to pursue the development of the MIMU gloves, which allows the wearer to produce music through gestures. Snook and her team of eight set to work in 2011 and by 2014 they were operative, with Heap and the likes of Ariana Grande using them on tour. Snook expressed her excitement at the idea of using technology to express yourself, or to access music that is already inherent in the reality of things.
At the time of writing, Snook is working on a project that she has dubbed Concordia. She described it as a mash-up between a video game, a musical instrument, a Virtual Reality installation and a flying spaceship. It sounds like science fiction, but then again, just a decade ago, so too did VR headsets.
A strong ovation greeted Professor Snook's engaging and thought-provoking presentation, whereupon she took a seat alongside Scott Cohen for a panel debate entitled: Leading from the Edge: How Technology will Affect Creators, Consumers and Companies in the Digital Age
. The two-person panel was moderated by the Improvised Music Company's Kenneth Killeen, who just the week before at 12 Points in Dublin
provided his own food for thought with a presentation that confronted the rapidly changing technological panorama surrounding the production and dissemination of music and the concept of ownership for musicians and consumers alike.
Allowing Snook the chance to rest after her efforts, Killeen got the ball rolling by asking Cohen what the presentation of music will look like five years from now. Cohen, after taking a deep breath, began by recognizing how audience expectations have already changed. With regards to jazz, Cohen noted that there too, the marketing of jazz has changed. How a festival treats people, how it communicates with them, and how people expect to be treated by a festival has changed. Cohen suggested that if any promotors were noticing a decline in audience numbers then they should ask themselves if it might have anything to do with how they are treating their audiences.
With regard to what Killeen termed reasonably as the "science fiction" of the technologies in Concordia that Snook is harnessing, she replied: "It is kind of still sci-fi," she laughed, "but it almost exists. I can taste it." In a more earthbound tone she added: "I think we can all agree that the power of music is in building communities, establishing identity and sharing who we are."
For Cohen, it is better not to think about moving forward with potential new technologies, in terms of presentation and communicating with audiences, until everybody is on board with old technologies -Facebook being already twelve years old. Cohen also highlighted the move of teenagers away from traditional sports towards watching extreme sports and e-sports -live, improvisational activities where they recognize the adventure and virtuosity. These shifting cultural trends, Cohen said, indicate the different expectations of youth. "You're not going to tap into that community by pasting a poster in your town centre and saying there's a gig if you go down some dark steps to a nightclub."
Snook went much further, envisaging a more evolved future where music is not "commodified...bought and sold" but instead shared by future generations and that the various chains in the music industry are no longer "trying to live off of the output of these individuals." Little wonder if the music industries are reeling, Snook observed, "because music is about community and communities are suffering around the world. The world is suffering. There are massive inequalities and there are problems with the way we materialize music and art in the world." Snook spoke of the need to get away from old, materialistic models and to look for new models that allow the music, the arts, to flourish, but not "at the expense of whole groups of people."
As Killeen, Spook and Cohen depictedthrough their respective storiesthe world of music has changed beyond recognition in a generation. Twenty years ago to arrive at a piece of music, a consumer would likely have to firstly rely on a reviewer to weigh up the music's worth, secondly, go to the local record store and thirdly, pay in cash for probably only one vinyl or CD. Today, access is instant, algorithms suggest other music you may like and you can share the music with people everywhere at the push of a button. The barriers between music and the consumer, Cohen said, have all melted away.
A word of caution came from Snook, who questioned the definition of success, suggesting that the visibility and economic viability of an artist is not the best or only way to measure success. "To be successful just means you have to be able to make a living." Snook pointed out that there are far more successful musicians today than there ever were in the past, reasoning that if an artist's livelihood can be sustained by five hundred loyal fans then this equates with success. Thanks to social media platforms, Snooks argued, we are moving away from thinking of audiences as consumers and thinking of them more as community members, helping to generate and feed ideas. Directly addressing the audience, Cohen asked: "In the jazz industry, are we moving forward or are we just trying to hold on to what we have."
On a grander scale, Snook suggested, the technological changes affecting how the music business operates and how it will operate in the future are merely signs of major shifts in society, where tools like Block Chainthe data base of data basesmay one day eliminate the need for third part organisations whose main purpose is the storage of data, such as corporations and entire branches of government.
The final words from Snook and Cohen, prior to a brief Q&A session, provided comfort and pause for thought. For Snook, technology does not threaten the human element of music-making: "It's not a competition between humans and machines...it's a collaboration and the collaboration is just getting more interesting."
Cohen placed the idea of collaboration between humans and machines in sharp relief, predicting confidently that every person in the auditorium will become a cyborg, or in other words, part-human, part-machine. Pace makers, cochlear implants, insulin pumps -these are already commonplace, Cohen pointed out. "We are spending so much time, energy and money to make our computers smarter, we're making our phones smarter, our cars smarter, our homes smarter, why aren't we working on humans?" he asked rhetorically. "When we do this we become more connected to people and our environment and our planet."
This final point seemed to join the dots between Cohen and Snooks' respective visions of the future, where humans and machines work closely togetherprobably even closer than we can imagine nowto better understand our inner workings and the universe in which we live, with music perhaps just one key to unlocking some of its mysteries.
One of the most eagerly awaited moments of the EJC 2018 was the official launch of the book The History of European Jazz: The Music, Musicians and Audience in Context
. (Equinox Publishing, 2018). Edited by Francesco Martinelli, with essential support from Series Editor Alyn Shipton and Production Editor Dean Bargh, this seven-hundred-and-fifty-two-page tome has been a major work in progress for a number of years.
Martinelli paid tribute to Shipton and Bargh and the multiple contributors, some of whom, such as Cormac Larkin from Ireland, Rain Sultanov from Azerbaijan, Pedro Cravinho and Rui Eduardo Paes from Portugal, and George McKay from the UK, were present to share in the celebration. This book will set the benchmark against which any future books on jazz history in Europe will be measured.
The formalities for another year concluded on an upbeat note with the overwhelming adoption of the EJN Manifesto on Gender Balance in Jazz and Creative Music. More and more festivals, venues and organisations are signing up to this aim, which should see significant increases in the visibility of female musicians on stages around Europe in the next few years. This in turn, is likely to inspire more young female musicians to pursue a career in music -even if it means living on the edge.
With regards to the struggle of most jazz musicians to make a living it might also be worth considering debate around another potential manifesto, one aimed at venues and festivals that would ensure fair payment of musicians for performing. It seems reasonable that any venue, event or organisation that uses musicians for financial gain, or to further its causes, should pay them properly for their services. As Carlos Martins
of Sons da Lusofonia reminded everyone on day one of the EJC: "Music is at the core of everything."
The EJC 2018 was a resounding success and one made more pleasurable by the hospitality of the Portuguese hosts and the hassle-free organisation and conduction of the event. Outgoing EJN President Ros Rigby echoed the general sentiment in paying tribute to the incredible job done---a year-round effortby the EJN's hard-working team of Stefano Zucchiatti, EJN Communication Manager, Francesca Cerretani, EJN Coordinator/Administrator, and Giambattista Tofoni, EJN Network Manager. In large part, the success of the conference was down to their tireless work behind the scenes. They left no stone unturned.
For three days, the impressive though incredibly confusing Centro Cultural Belém was home to a feast of music, debate, ideas and a glimpse into possible futures. As the ranks of the EJN grow and the numbers of participants at successive EJCs continue to swell, it is reasonable to assume that there will be even more cyborgs present when the most professional and dynamic jazz network in the world rocks up in Novara, Italy for the EJC 2019.
There, as Corrado Beldi of Novaro Jazz explained with gusto, gastronomic delights await -good Piedmont wines, the region's famous rice, cheese, seasonal white truffles, the hearty fritto misto piemontese and much more besides. It promises to be a waistline-bulging weekend.
There will also be, lest we forget, some of the best contemporary Italian jazz on the menu.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Andreea Bikfalvi/Sons da Lusofonia