3,500 musicians perform at the ‘Jazzahead! Festival’ in Bremen!

Some years ago, firstly in the Netherlands, then in Finland and Hungary, national jazz festivals expanded to include exhibition fairs, in order to attract the maximum number of managers, journalists and promoters. They did not have long to wait before seeing positive results; there was a noticeable rise in the interest in jazz in these countries.

In Germany this movement took deeper root than in other countries; its ‘Jazzahead!’ festivals could be termed ‘5 in 1’. Firstly, there was a practical/scientific conference (on the topics: radio, marketing, clubs etc). After lunch a "German Jazz Meeting" was organised. Targeted principally at foreign promoters, this event featured performances by 25 bands (2 or 3 every hour). An international festival filled the evenings.

Apart from superstar John Scofield, the projects were, one way or another, of German origin. There was also a competition between groups attending star master classes and a concert by a select European youth jazz ensemble. Finally, at a 3-day exhibition fair, record companies, including the Germany-based ACT, ECM and ENJA, displayed their wares, covering the whole process from ‘first note to finished CD’.

In total there were 3,500 participants in the festival. Of all the different countries represented, Azerbaijan was included for the first time. The embassy in Germany entrusted this honour to leading jazz saxophonist and manager of Baku Jazz Centre, Rain Sultanov. This musician, who is also producing this year’s Baku Jazz Festival, played an extensive programme at the ‘Jazzahead! Festival’. On his return to Baku, Sultanov shared his feelings about the festival; he remarked that events like the ‘Jazzahead! Festival’ provided a good model for festival organisers. He went on,

‘Jazzahead!’ is a huge event and it would be good if we could organise seminars and master classes and develop educational and promotional programmes. I can say, with some pride, that the wealth of material I took from Azerbaijan surprised most foreign producers. They were very interested in the ‘Jazz Anthology’ book. This kind of publicity is not available in most of even the leading countries. The ‘Jazz Dunyasi’ magazine, and other material, impressed festival participants. We had a chance to meet producers from the biggest recording studios, managers of outstanding jazz musicians and the organisers of big jazz festivals in the USA and Europe.

I have played in this kind of festival many times and they give us the chance to organise events with programmes and organisation to at least as high a standard as those held in Europe. On each tour I learn something new and I will do my best to bring innovation to our Baku Jazz Festival and help it to develop."