In celebration of International Jazz Day, The Sherp has compiled a comprehensive list of some of the best Jazz festivals in the world. Have a look :
1. Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Canada
Why : Set in Montreal, Canada Festival International de Jazz de Montreal is often considered as the most talked about and popular, particularly because of the size and scale the festival. We kid you not, apart from being the biggest Jazz festival out there it is also possibly the LARGEST music festival in the world.
It’s a 10 day ode to Jazz music and culture, with around 3000 artists from dozens of countries, 650 concerts and close to two million visitors each year. The festival has seen legends like Ray Charles, Bo Diddley and Gary Burton take to its stages over the years.
Why : The Montreux Jazz festival is prime and important to anything Jazz. Here’s a bit of trivia – The festival has been referenced in the ever popular rock classic ‘ Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple (which is about a fire that took place at the festival during a Frank Zappa performance in the late 60s.)
Originally a pure jazz festival, it opened up in the 1970s and today presents artists of nearly every imaginable music style. Jazz remains an important part of the festival. Today’s festival lasts about two weeks and attracts an audience of more than 200,000 people. Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Prince, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and The All Starr Band are among the many famous and popular musicians that have frequently played at the festival.
3. Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Denmark
As pretty much the European capital of Jazz, Copenhagen and it’s Jazz Festival have been huge platforms for big names such as Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins and Thelonius Monk since 1979.
Why : 10 days of Jazz overtakes the city right from every street corner. Ranging from street performances to sold out concerts in concert halls, this Jazz festival truly brings together jazz enthusiasts from every walk of life. From a tourist point of view, July would be a great season to visit Copenhagen so one can be witness to this legendary festival..
Why : Every September, California is the host to the longest running Jazz festival till date. Incepted in 1958 it’s 20 acres of festival grounds and fields have seen the whose who of jazz perform. Think Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. 8 stages and over 500 artists.
The festival a three day event that showcases a pleasant mix of Jazz, blues and folk including workshops, exhibitions. The festival is non-profit and hopes to educate and nurture jazz in the community.
5. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Louisiana, USA
Why: It is only apt that the birthplace of Jazz music should be home to one of the world’s most famous Jazz and Heritage festivals. The festival popularly dubbed as Jazz Fest was first held in 1970 when Mahalia Jackson (the greatest gospel singer of all time) performed. What followed was a massive increase in visibility of the festival. This massive event is held every April and May and has often had the largest number of festival attendees.
Over the years, the festival has opened its arms to many more genres, like when The Foo Fighters headlined the festival in 2012.
Why : Jazz in Marciac is a special festival that mixes Southern French gastronomy and top notch jazz, under the patronage of Wynton Marsalis. It takes place over three a period of three weeks, usually from late July to mid – August. Michel Portal, Keith Jarrett, Dizzy Gillespie are among many talented musicians who have performed and continue to at this festival.
Why : What is really cool about this festival is that it held in a city known to be the City of Neighbourhoods – Toronto. Hence giving that festival a very neighbourly vibe. The 10 day event is held at local parks all over the city and is absolutely free, giving multiple artists and jazz aficionados the chance interact and appreciate each other. Even though its an ‘International’ festival, local talent is given most preference thanks to the community vibe it nurtures.
Why : Sun, Sand and Jazz. What really contributes to this festival is it’s Caribean setting. The Island of St Lucia has a particularly well known jazz fest that has hosted the likes of Maceo Parker in the past. The scale of the festival isnt as large as the above mentioned, but that does not take away from it’s prominence in the the worldwide Jazz community.