Sunday, July 31, 2005

The death of the jazz festival


It's pretty sad when what used to be a major jazz festival is run by someone who declares things such as:

We have to draw up a very diverse programme. Today, there isn't a single jazz artist capable of attracting as many people as the site can contain. All the greats are dead.

One way to guarantee the non-jazzness of your jazz festival is to design it so that jazz musicians can't play there:

We have to book extremely festive things so that the sound from the different stages don't cover each other. This place isn't adapted to hosting Sonny Rollins or Keith Jarrett.

The article states that only four of the eight nights drew more than 6,500 people. Obviously, if your aim is to attract than many people a night, then there probably aren't very many jazz musicians you can book (none of the headliners for those nights were jazz musicians). The obvious question is, then, do you actually want to be doing a jazz festival? If it's designed so that the biggest-drawing jazz musicians (such as Jarrett) wouldn't be able or want to play there, surely the answer is no. Which is more worrying, to me, than a year-on-year dip in attendance (down by 10,000).