While AAJ's coverage of Enjoy Jazz comes to a close, the festival still has nearly two weeks left to go, with artists including Overtone Quartet (with Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Jason Moran and Eric Harland), Wayne Shorter, Erik Truffaz, Ulf Wakenius, Tord Gustavsen and more. With its breadth of programming and, in this year, two festival- within-festivals, it's grown over its relatively short history, to become Germany's most important festival for jazz and more. Festival Director Rainer Kern's story remains a remarkable one, all the more so considering his background is in chemistry and that he's essentially learned about all the ins and outs of running a festival by experience and an intrepid confidence in his vision. But the proof is in the pudding, and with the past two weeks of outstanding programming, Enjoy Jazz 2009 is going to be a tough act to follow. But while Kern often makes decisions close to the festival, there's little doubt he's already thinking about possibilities for the next edition of the festival.
With a small but dedicated staff that treats musicians and media as if they were guests in their home, Enjoy Jazz becomes an even more apt title for this six-week festival. A thoroughly enjoyable time that, with largely only one show per night, also operates at a very relaxed pace, the festival not only encourages checking out new music, but all the sights of the Mannheim/Heidelberg/Ludwigshafen region. The best festivals possess some quality that distinguishes them from the many others around the worldwith rich programming delivered at an easily digestible pace in a multitude of wonderful venues within a truly spectacular tourist region, it's safe to say that there's no other jazz festival in the world like Enjoy Jazz.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.