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Jazzahead! 2018

Henning Bolte By

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Bremen Trade Fair Hall
Jazzahead!
Bremen, Germany
April 21-23, 2018

Jazzahead!, the three-day annual jazz marketplace marketplace of/for jazz in the Hanseatic city of Bremen in North-Western Germany with 3,283 participants from 61 countries stood strong and steady again this year. A total of 40 showcases over three days, and a concluding club night spread across the town is impossible to cover adequately in one report. In this article, you'll find a review mainly focused upon the showcases of musicians/groups from Germany, the German Jazz Expo.

There were four rounds of showcases in total: eight showcases with Polish musicians/groups for this year's partner country Poland during the Polish Night, sixteen showcases from all over Europe for the European Jazz Meeting, eight showcases for the German Jazz Expo, and, finally, eight showcases for the Overseas Night chosen by an international jury of mainly presenters. It is a presentation for presenters presented by presenters. Excellent videos of all showcases can be viewed In the media library of Jazzahead!.

The club-night runs parallel with the Overseas Night. This set-up means that Jazzahead!, besides its function as a trade fair, also attracts a multitude of local/regional audiences. The days of the Jazzahead! trade fair are preceded by a 14-day multi-arts and culture festival, organized in a cooperation between the city of Bremen and this year's partner country, Poland.

Poland has a strong jazz scene, the strongest jazz tradition in Eastern Europe, with great musicians and figureheads like Krzysztof Komeda, Zbigniew Seifert, Michal Urbaniak, Urszula Dudziak and Tomasz Stanko to name but a few of the founding generation. Poland had already a prominent jazz festival long before many countries in the Western part of Europe were ready to start. For example, Norwegian—Polish musician Jan Garbarek made his first international steps at the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree. There were and still are strong bonds of Polish musicians and Finish musicians, as well as bonds with the other Scandinavian countries. The Polish jazz magazine JAZZ FORUM (diverse links on the web) was of special importance with its English (and for five years even German) edition circulated in the Eastern and Western part of Europe. It served as an important link in the Europe of the past and played an important role for jazz musicians and audiences in the Eastern part of Europe during the (iron curtain) East-West-division of Europe—a good example of a happy junction of self-interest and general interest. It ended after 25 years soon after the collapse of the communist regime in Poland. But do not underestimate tenacitas Poloniae: in 2018 it is back with a special English edition on the occasion of Jazzahead!—happily announced by longtime editor-in-chief Pawel Brodowski and now already a collector's item. This time it was facilitated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute , the Polish culture institute for foreign countries.

Nowadays, Poland has a vibrant jazz scene with international names, highly regarded festivals with extraordinary programming and commissions of international allure like those at the National Forum of Music (Jazztopad Festival) in Wroclaw. It is all embedded in the work of around 25 Culture Institutes Poland maintains all over Europe.

Eight groups played a showcase, namely the Atom String Quartet, the High Definition Quartet of pianist Piotr Orzechowski, the trio of pianist Joanna Duda, the sextet of pianist Kamil Piotrowicz, the trio of saxophonist Kuba Wiecek, the renowned trio of pianist Marcin Wasilewski, vocalist Monika Borzym and trumpeter Piotr Damasiewicz's Power Of The Horns. High-quality videos of these showcases may be viewed at the Jazzahead website. Apart from the showcases there were concerts during the 14 days culture festival and two gala concerts during Jazzahead!, a concert by the Polish-Norwegian quartet of alto saxophonist Maciej Obara with bassist Ole Morten Vågan, drummer Gard Nilssen and pianist Dominik Wania, that just released the album Unloved on ECM, plus a concert by singer Anna Maria Jopek with pianist Leszek Mozdzer.

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