The four multinational juries, which select the showcase programme at jazzahead!, were once again spoilt for choice: a total of 547 bands from 55 countries submitted their entries for the Showcase Festival. Subsequently 40 bands from 19 countries made it through to the official jury selection for 2017. The bands play on three days and evenings on the stages at the jazzahead! trade fair, which is being held from 27-30 April 2017 in Bremen, Germany.
A Showcase programme with surprises.
As tradition requires, the showcase programme kicks off with the night devoted to the jazzahead! partner country for 2017: Finland. During the Finnish Night eight bands will provide a kaleidoscope of the jazz scene from the far north. “The bands comprehensively reflect the variety of the Finnish jazz scene, which is currently enjoying a particularly exciting and powerful phase”, says someone who knows the scene like no other, Mikkomatti Aro, Artistic Director of the Pori Jazz Festival and a member of this year’s jury. “There are well-known bands as well as promising newcomers. The range stretches from Aki Rissanen’s trendy piano trio to ecstatic rock music by the guitarist Raoul Björkenheim. Several interesting trumpeters will also be there.”
Traditionaly, the Saturday showcases had been headlined by European bands during the last few years, these concerts have now been brought forward to the Friday. During the afternoon and evening of 28th April 2017 a total of 16 bands from 12 European countries will take to the stages of the European Jazz Meeting. “The musical quality of this year’s selection is dazzling”, commented Uli Beckerhoff, Artistic Director of jazzahead! and a member of the jury, and added: “the stylistic variety of the groups and the individuality of personality of some of the musicians show that this continent is brimming over with the exuberant joy of playing.” The European programme includes “A Novel of Anomaly”, a fantastic ensemble with excellent musicians from Switzerland, Finland and Italy, full of humour and virtuosity, as well as the Ukrainian pianist Vadim Neselovskyi with his extraordinary instrumental abilities, who has created a superb career for himself in Europe and the USA within the space of only a few years.
The German Jazz Expo showcases have moved to the Saturday. This means that the afternoon of 29th April belongs to the German scene, when eight bands will be presenting Jazz made in Germany. The German jazz scene once again displayed its high international quality in the entries received for the German Jazz Expo.
In addition to three different profiled piano trios (namely Julia Hülsmann, Trio Elf and the Lorenz Kellhuber Trio), experienced and yet still adventurous musicians such as the saxophonist Niels Klein with his Tubes & Wires will be able to be heard together with young, excellently trained bands like the quartet belonging to the drummer Eva Klesse.
The Overseas Night has also been moved to the Saturday of the showcase festival. On the evening of 29th April bands from outside Europe will present their view of jazz. Four of the eight bands come from the USA, a sign that a showcase at jazzahead! is also becoming increasingly attractive for American bands. This time over half of the entries came from North America. “But the number of entries from Central and South America and from Africa also rose compared with previous years, which I was personally very pleased about”, says Uli Beckerhoff. “The programme selection therefore shows a fascinating breadth of jazz, permeated with cultural musical influences from various continents.”
The singer Dee Alexander from the USA is also involved and she combines in her music everything which exemplifies the traditions of jazz: a stunning voice, deep feeling for the blues and enthralling stage presence. Another act is the Leo Genovese Trio from Argentina, characterised by a wild, surprising and exuberant gift for improvisation.
The jury and organisers see increasing internationalisation
The jazzahead! organisers are delighted about the continually increasing number of countries from which showcase entries are coming. For the first time entries were also received from Argentina, Chile, Syria, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Ghana. Two of these newcomers were also able to go straight into the programme selection.
The full programme and list of bands that will perform can be seen on the jazzahead! website.
Professional participant registrations are possible online until 12th April 2017. Registration as a professional participant at the reduced price of € 160 for every day is available until 13th January. All the visitor information on attending jazzahead! 2017 can be found at www.jazzahead.de.