For ten days in July every year, Copenhagen becomes the jazz capital of Europe with the celebration of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. This huge music fest comprises of a series of concerts all around Denmark’s capital, featuring both local talents and international luminaries in the world of jazz. The festival is among the best reasons to visit Europe, particularly the Danish city, in the summer. Jazz fans and other music lovers from Denmark, Europe and other parts of the world gather in Copenhagen each year to witness the performances.
A small group of jazz enthusiasts started the first jazz festival in Copenhagen in 1979. The events have since then grown steadily each year, and now after thirty years entertains audiences of about a quarter of a million people. The Copenhagen Jazz Festival has become so big that it has already recorded hosting almost 900 concerts and performances in about a hundred venues within the 10-day period, and with the participation of close to 800 musicians.
Numerous music legends have performed at this prestigious festival over the years. Such names include Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Michel Petrucciani, Niels-Henning ?rsted Pedersen, Wayne Shorter, Ornette Coleman, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Michel Camilo, and Dizzy Gillespie. Other artists who have performed in recent years also include Chick Corea, Cassandra Wilson, Jacob Anderskov, and Paul Bley. The list goes on.
The festival turns the spotlight on different types of jazz, especially since a lot of the musicians featured continue to contribute to the innovation of the music. Pulitzer Prize winner Ornette Coleman, who played in 2008, for instance, brought in his signature?now classic?style that revolutionized the music fifty years ago, while others like Anglique Kidjo and Cassandra Wilson have performed fusions of jazz with various kinds of music, including afro-funk, samba, salsa, gospel, blues, and folk. There are likewise ambient electronica acts like Cluster and Efterklang. Children’s concerts and musical plays have also been included on the list of festival events.
Venues are spread throughout the city and are quite diverse?from theaters and the opera house to outdoor locations and various establishments providing more intimate setups. The bigger acts, especially the international performers for the Giant Jazz category, typically play in places like the Copenhagen Opera House, Glassalen and the Royal Theater. Such performances usually require tickets.
You can check the schedules of performances to decide which concerts you want to catch, but it is also advisable to explore Copenhagen, on foot or on a bicycle if possible, to perhaps come across some other interesting show happening at any bar or street corner. Once the festival is in full swing, you will not have any trouble finding something great to watch anywhere around town. You’ll also find how Copenhagen is really suitable for hosting the jazz festival?the city is as cool and cosmopolitan as the music itself.
The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is an annual event that kicks off on the first Friday of July and lasts until the second Sunday after (ten days). You can go to most of the performances for free, but some special concerts require ticket purchase. More information is available on the official Copenhagen Jazz Festival website.