jazzahead! 2018
The 13th edition of jazzahead! in Bremen came to a successful close on Sunday. Visitor numbers showed a slight uptick. The combination of trade fair and festival resulted in a wide-ranging programme and full concert halls; balmy summer temperatures helped to create a convivial mood.

This year‘s international jazz trade fair showed a slight increase in participant numbers. Exhibiting companies plus professional participants totalled 3,282 (2017: 3,169) from 61 countries. The total number of visitors attending the fair and the programme of concerts which ran concurrently was over 17,000, very similar to the previous year. Hans Peter Schneider, CEO of Messe Bremen commented: „As the meeting-place for the whole world‘s jazz scene, jazzahead! is a highly visible showpiece for our city. It really is one of a kind and has proved yet again that Bremen annually becomes the focal point where the entire jazz world gathers.” The organizers will announce the definitive number for total visitors once the culture programme – which is still continuing – has ended.

Showcase Festival and Poland as Central Focus
Poland, as jazzahead’s partner country in 2018, demonstrated emphatically that the country is home to a jazz scene of the highest international quality. A remarkable number of young musicians were to be heard in performance this year. In combination with the country‘s jazz legends, they demonstrated the sheer range of the current scene.
The showcase concerts taken as a whole offered a varied programme of unassailable quality. On Saturday evening, the Overseas Night was sold out, as has also been the case in previous years. Innovations, notably the availability of a screen relaying the concerts in real-time from inside Kulturzentrum Schlachthof to an audience outside, and an increase in audience capacity of both concert halls in Hall 7, met with widespread approval. For people either unable to attend the 40 showcase concerts, or who would like to check them out again, all the recordings are available in professionally produced video on the jazzahead! website.

An Open-Air Stage for the jazzahead! clubnight for the first time.
In summer weather at its balmy best, the first open-air stage at the jazzahead! clubnight was a major success. Around 7,000 visitors came to the concerts in the 30 well-attended venues.

The Focus for 2019: Jazz and Culture from Norway
Norway, as partner country of jazzahead! in 2019, will be a central focus of the trade fair and festival. It is a decision which Uli Beckerhoff from the artistic direction of jazzahead! elucidates: “Starting with the generation of Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen, and then through Nils Petter Molvaer, Jan Bang, Arve Henriksen, right up to the young musicians of today such as Mathias Eick, Norway has had a large part in determining the distinct style that is now called Scandinavian jazz.” Within jazzahead!’s next partner country itself, there is already a sense that this is a “unique opportunity to put culture from Norway on display,” as the Minister of Culture Trine Skei Grande comments. “The German market is important for our international work in the culture field. Jazz is an important part of our cultural export, and will be complementary in this cultural footprint. This is a huge acknowledgement, and I am proud to know that Norwegian arts and culture are so attractive.” In 2019 Norway will also be the focus of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Berlinale Film Festival.
The Director of the Norsk Jazzforum, Gry Bråtømyr, added: “The Norwegian focus in Bremen next year is a great opportunity to strengthen the connection to the German market.”

jazzahead! Festival 2019: 12 to 28 April
jazzahead! Trade Fair and Showcase Festival 2019: 25 to 28 April

Photo 1: The 13th jazzahead! successfully finished in Bremen © Jan Rathke / Messe Bremen

Rumba de Bodas im Lagerhaus, 21.4.2018

Photo 2: The jazzahead! clubnight was again a crowd puller in 2018. Here: Rumba de Bodas at Kulturzentrum Lagerhaus © Nikolai Wolff / Messe Bremen


Photo 3: Evening mood in front of Kulturzentrum Schlachthof to jazzahead! © Nikolai Wolff / Messe Bremen


Photo 4: Partner country of jazzahead! 2019: Norway. Left to right: Peter Schulze, Aslak Oppebøen, Gry Bråtømyr, Narve Solheim, Sybille Kornitschky, Øyvind Skjerven Larsen, Kathrine Synnes Finnskog © Jan Rathke / Messe Bremen