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Jazzahead! 2023 Announces Thirty-Six Showcase Artists / Bands

Jazzahead! 2023 Announces Thirty-Six Showcase Artists / Bands

Courtesy M3B GmbH / PersonalEditorialLimited

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The jury’s decisions have been made, jazzahead! 2023 at MESSE BREMEN continues to take shape–there is a definite buzz of anticipation here!

Out of no fewer than 576 applications, 32 artists and bands have been selected to perform at the world's largest jazz trade fair from 27 to 30 April. These are in addition to the four “Commissioned Works”, collaborative bands brought into being by invitation, which were outlined in the most recent press release. As well as the “Commissioned Works” bands, there will eight other showcase concerts at the German Jazz Expo, the eight concerts of the Overseas Showcases, plus the European Showcases which consist of 16 concerts. “I believe that we have once again put together a programme which is not just really exciting but also shows huge variety," says Sybille Kornitschky, who runs the jazzahead! trade fair.

Once again, the jury members had substantial quantities of listening to get through; there were no fewer than 576 applications from a total of 45 countries. The artistic directors of jazzahead! and the four international juries, consisting of programme directors from festivals and clubs, did not have an easy ride: every single application was considered and listened to in detail, this resulted in initial rankings and the building of shortlists. “Many more deserved to make it than those who actually did," says Kornitschky, “the overall level was again very high—so unfortunately there are many who will be disappointed." Seventeen countries (out of the 45 who applied) are now represented by their artists in the showcases. All the acts in the final selection, with a brief description of each, can be found at the end of this press release.

Once again, the programme shows phenomenal diversity. In fact the range is even wider than in previous years. Thus, the 36 showcase acts include everything which- alongside what is generally considered to be jazz- is related to it, whether it be folk, world music, rock or electronica.

Other remarkable aspects this year are worthy of mention: “Several large ensembles applied," says Uli Beckerhoff, artistic director of jazzahead! together with Peter Schulze. Three of these groups made it to the shortlist in the German Jazz Expo alone—"and they are all very different from each other, right across the spectrum from free spontaneous arrangements to very precise orchestrations."

The final programme includes an “incredible guitarist", the Australian Josh Meader with his trio as well as the Cuban cellist and singer Ana Carla Maza, who is already a big YouTube star with over a million views of her very individual and distinctive music, with its fascinatingly deep and direct connections to Cuban music royalty.

The formation Schntzl from Belgium stand out for their originality, the Norwegian band LILJA bring some exciting rock influences, and as for the French duo No Sax No Clar—"they are incredibly good in the way they play together," says Beckerhoff.

According to the artistic directors, the fact that there has been a move closer to the stylistic fringes is very much in line with the artistic directors’ priorities: a good example is the German band Conic Rose, says Beckerhoff: “Their pop and electronica mix is jazzy, and yet at the same time finely structured, very free-spirited and yet well thought-out. The more you listen, the more exciting it gets—very modern!"

It is also good that the geographical categories used for the programme modules have been freed up somewhat compared to previous years. Peter Schulze: “How do you classify a Cuban musician who lives and works in Spain, for example, or the many African musicians who live in France? Jazz simply cannot be placed within borders.”

The international jurors were pleased to have been part of this process. Raluca Baicu, Artistic Curator from North Sea Round Town, a member of the jury for the German Jazz Expo, says: “Being part of the jury was a great source of discovery—it was inspiring to hear all these applications and to discover so many high-quality projects and passionate artists from Germany." At the same time, making the choices was also a great challenge: “It was not easy for a jury to make a short list when there are quite so many good projects, especially among the larger ensembles. That aspect was the most surprising part of the process for me personally, seeing the artistic interest and developments for larger ensembles."

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