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European Jazz Network General Assembly 2013

Henning Bolte By

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Dokkhuset Trondheim
Europe Jazz Network's General Assembly 2013 + Young Nordic Jazz Comets + Norwegian Jazz Nights
Trondheim, Norway
September 12-15, 2013

Europe Jazz Network (EJN), founded 26 years ago in Ravenna, Italy, is a pan-European association of producers, presenters, and supporting organizations engaged in presenting and promoting the creative art form of contemporary jazz and improvised music. Its membership includes 89 organizations (festivals, clubs and concert venues, independent promoters, and national organizations) in 28 countries.

From Bari to Trondheim

Last year the Federation met in Bari in the Puglia region of South Italy for its twenty-fifth annual assembly. This year's assembly took place about 3300 kilometers north of Bari, in Trondheim, Mid Norway, organized by Midnorsk Jazzsenter. Jazz activities in Norway are spread among three regional zones (south, mid, north) which is not surprising given the extent of the country. Horizontally getting smaller half way up north, the mainland of Norway stretches from 13°N to 58°N at the western periphery of Europe. Driving from Kristiansand in the south to North Cape covers about 2,500 km, plus Norway has 50,000 islands off the coast, including the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard at 71°N.

Trondheim as the third largest city of Norway is a center of intelligence in science, engineering and technology but above all it is historical ground concerning Norwegian history and identity in general and jazz/music specifically. Trondheim started the first Norwegian jazz-education at the end of the seventies of the last century which is now part of the Music Department of Norwegian University Science and Technology (NTNU). Trondheim with its 30.000 students is characterized by a unique combination of scientific- technical and musical excellence. The city also houses Norway's national museum for music and musical instruments with a collection from around the world and in the impressive new Rockheim building the national center for pop and rock music.

The Music department and its predecessors delivered a large number of well-known musicians of the middle and young generation as Nils Petter Molvaer, Arve Henriksen, Mathias Eick, Hakon Kornstad, Trygve Seim, Tore Brunborg, Daniel Herskedal, Kjetil Møster, Mats Eilertsen, Ole Morten Vågan, Per Zanussi, Ola Kvernberg, Thomas Strønen, Paal Nilssen-Love, Per Oddvar Johansen, Gaard Nilssen, Ingar Zach, Christian Wallumrod, Stale Storløkken, Eldbjorg Raknes, Kristin Asbjørnsen, etc. etc., names which indicate a noteworthy diversity of temperaments and temperatures in their ways of music making. They all immersed themselves in the special Trondheim learning environment which produced a remarkable output of musicians over the last three decades.

This is related to and might be described as creativeness fuelled by independent and confluent mindsets of young people coming from places all over Norway, all with their own strong identity. Young people encouraged to act in that spirit are used to develop and maintain that. Norwegian identity, it seems, is not so much driven by forced uniting conformism but by a tacitly shared consensus of their rooted peculiarity as a core value and a necessary means of survival.

The Trondheim Meeting

Kristin Danielsen, chairman of Norwegian Jazz Federation, pointed in that direction in her opening-address and Erling Aksdal, professor at NTNU Department of Music in Trondberg and one of the founding fathers and advocates of the 'Trondheim-Model' gave some insight into the open oral approach connected to that mentality with its vivid spirit. That spirit affected the three days of conferencing dedicated to (a) education of jazz musicians, (b) knowledge of /insight in audiences, (c) jazz events with special experience- qualities, (d) general assembly and board meetings, (e) tasks and collaboration of jazz media in Europe, (f) next steps resulting from (a)—(e).



Upon arrival to Trondheim the city showed in bright, warm sunshine and blue sky, the perfect condition to stroll Bakklandet, Trondheim's old quarter along the curving Nidelva river with its restored old wooden buildings, originally workers houses. The quarter, just ten minutes walk from Rica Nidelven hotel on the other side of the river, was saved from city planners' modernization phantasies. The lively neighbourhood is now considered the heart of Trondheim's heritage and cultural identity.

Trondheim offered superb accommodation at Rica Nidelven hotel situated on the edge of the former shipbuilding area and renowned for its high quality food and kitchen. The concert-venue at the old dock house on just five minutes walking distance had excellent sound quality and a pleasant, inspiring atmosphere. The Dokkhuset venue was populated by young audiences and even though it was packed at most of the concerts it remained comfortable because of people's care and flexibility.

The Trondheim meeting had a pleasant rhythm of activities, provided a climate and environment of free flow of ideas, good examples, illustrative material, interested and patient listening as well as fruitful discussion and yielded some good and useful results. This especially applies to the media-group Europe Jazz Media (EJM) which achieved remarkable progress concerning collaboration and concrete perspectives of future development—the miraculous Trondheim turning point. The practice of various festivals and venues were presented (Tampere Jazz Happening, Northseajazz Rotterdam, Bimhuis Amsterdam) as well as festival-contexts with special experience- qualities (Jazz Biketour Groningen (NL), N.A.T.U.R Bochum (G) and Earwax Gent (B)) which both provided a useful basis for further discussion and development of ideas and projects.



The three concert-nights with fourteen concerts took place at the Dokkhuset venue, an old dock house in the now transformed former shipbuilding area of Ørens Mekaniske Verksted and Trondheims Mekaniske Verksted, once the largest employer in Trondheim. When the industrial site became disused in the late 1990s, it was turned into a new high-end area with some of the original buildings and artifacts like the canal and one of the old cranes kept there as integral part of it.

First concert night: all Scandinavian

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