Szczecin Jazz: Europe's First Hybrid Festival Off 2021


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The idea of this festival is that jazz comes to you.
—Sylwester Ostrowski
It is a strange feeling to write a piece about a jazz festival while the first band is on stage. I can hear Belmondo Quintet enchant their in-person audience from where I'm sitting, backstage in the production office of the Szczecin Opera Theater, where Europe's first international jazz festival of 2021 has just kicked off. From February 25 through March 4, Szczecin Jazz Festival hosts a lineup of international artists including Belmondo Quintet, Alexander Beets Quintet ft. Ellister van der Molen, Anders Bergcrantz and many others.

Under normal circumstances, nobody would have batted an eye at a bill featuring artists from Poland, The Netherlands, Sweden and the US, to name a few. After all, Szczecin has hosted the likes of Wynton Marsalis and Erykah Badu before. In corona times, however, it can be considered a bold and ambitious move to organize such an event. Szczecin Jazz celebrates its sixth birthday this year and has arguably decided to be a beacon of hope for the international jazz community. A hybrid model gives the festival an opportunity to be flexible, should covid measures change or increase, but it also allows artists to perform where they would otherwise be stuck at home. For many of them, this is the first international gig and a much-needed sense of – albeit relative – normality for many. “The idea of this festival is that jazz comes to you,” director Sylwester Ostrowski explains. “No matter what.”

While Szczecin Jazz was used to drawing large crowds and serving its offline community, attracting an online audience for a festival of this size seemed no match to them. Through a vlog series aptly named Curtain Calls: Behind the Scenes of Szczecin Jazz, online audiences were introduced to the festival and some of its key players each night at 8pm CET, and international media partners across Europe embraced the festival's efforts to pioneer through this crisis. So whether you have always wanted to see what Polish jazz clubs and theaters looked like, or you just want to enjoy or discover some great music, jazz definitely comes to you this winter.

Over the course of seven days, eight bands take the stage in six locations all over the city. With COVID measures in place and capacities limited, the organization has opted for a hybrid model, meaning that concerts, where possible, will be performed live in front of an audience, but all concerts will be streamed through the festival's Facebook page as well. That way, artists and audience alike are still ensured of their live jazz fix. No matter what.


Krystyna Stańko (PL)
Venue: Radio Szczecin
Time: 2.00 pm EST / 8.00 pm UTC + 1

“Jazz in Europe”
Alexander Beets Quintet ft. Ellister van der Molen (NL)
Logan Richardson (USA) meets Jazz Forum Talents (PL)
Venue: Opera Theater
Time: 1.00 pm EST / 7.00 pm UTC + 1 & 2.00 pm EST / 8.00 pm UTC + 1

Jerzy Malek Quartet (PL)
Video premiere at 2.00 EST / 8.00 pm UTC + 1

Bergcrantz – Ostrowski Unit (SWE/PL)
Video premiere at 2.00 EST / 8.00 pm UTC + 1

You can watch the live concert streams on the Szczecin Jazz Facebook Page

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