German Jazz Meeting?
Who or what is the German Jazz Meeting?
The German Jazz Meeting is an initiative that was brought into being by members of the Bundeskonferenz Jazz (Federal Jazz Conference) in 2005. Its founder members include Ursula Gaisa, Editor-in-Chief at the NMZ/jazz newspaper in Regensburg, Dr. Peter Ortmann of the German Music Council/BuJazzO, Dominik Wagner (a former Executive Secretary of the Union of German Jazz Musicians), Volker Dueck of Sunny-Moon Records and Chairman of Jazz & World Partners, Dr. Wolfram Knauer, Director of the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt Institute of Jazz, Michael Leonhart for the Jazz Initiative Berlin as a member of the German Jazz Federation Furthermore there is Reiner Michalke, Managing Director of the Stadtgarten in Cologne and Artistic Director of the Moers Jazz Festival, Peter Schulze, Artistic Director of the Berlin Jazz Festival until 2007, and Arndt Weidler who is also from the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt. The latter three also form the association's executive board and are only too pleased to deal with any enquiries and suggestions.
What are the aims of the German Jazz Meeting?
For a long time we had the feeling – and maybe it is also a feeling you share with us – that jazz “Made in Germany” has not really developed so well on an international level. We all of course have international contacts, manage or take part in international projects, promote personal, musical or business relations beyond the borders of Germany. In the last few years however we have observed that more and more European countries are developing strategies and ways of enabling the artists of their particular country to become better known – above all to reach a broader international audience. The roads they take to achieve this however are often very different. Nevertheless they were always able to fall back on either full or partial government funding and support. A national, country-wide jazz initiative was never able to get off the ground in Germany due to the federal structure of the country and the cultural autonomy of the individual states this stipulates, not to mention the fact that municipal and district councils are also in charge of promoting and sponsoring culture and art. This is why most of the time German jazz projects often have a difficult time trying to make it at international festivals and in the clubs. The German Jazz Meeting of 2006 was the first time German jazz or, rather, jazz projects stemming from Germany, had the opportunity to show how good they were to a circle of important international festival organisers and journalists. The idea was bound up with the hope that in the medium term German bands would be booked more often for international festivals. The Dutch Jazz Meeting, which has been taking place in Amsterdam since 1998, showed clearly that this can work really quite well.
How does the German Jazz Meeting work?
The German Jazz Meeting presents a selection of the most interesting German bands to an international audience in the form of short, 20-minute showcases. On two days, the 23rd and 24th April 2010, between 2.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., the German Jazz Meeting will take place in the Borgward Hall in the Bremen Trade Fair and Congress Centre – a hall that can hold up to 400 people. Alongside the 100 to 120 invited national and international guests (festival directors, representatives of national jazz organisations and journalists), visitors to the jazzahead! trade fair will also have the opportunity free of charge to get to know a selection of top German jazz performers. The groups taking part were pre-selected back in 2009 by a jury the members of which, in our opinion, are a sure guarantee for both quality and variety. It comprises five program planners from well known jazz clubs and jazz projects – Thomas Eckardt (Jazzmeile Thuringia), Christiane Bohnke-Geisse (Unterfahrt Munich), Sedal Sardan (A-Trane Berlin), Elke Wiedemann (Jazzclub Karlsruhe), Kornelia Vossebein (formerly Bunker Ulmenwall Bielefeld); five journalists of the written press who report regularly on the jazz scene in the major national newspapers and in specialist jazz journals – Ralf Dombrowski (Süddeutsche Zeitung, among others), Wolf Kampmann (among others, publisher of Reclam’s Jazzlexikon), Reinhard Köchl (among others, Jazzzeitung), Martin Laurentius (Jazzthing), Günter Huesmann (free-lance journalist and publisher of “Das Jazzbuch”); five jazz editors from the major German radio stations – Ulf Drechsel (rbb), Stefan Gerdes (NDR), Bert Noglik (mdr), Arne Schumacher (rb), Roland Spiegel (br) – as well as the three jazz representatives from the Goethe Institut’s Advisory Board on Music – Hans-Jürgen Linke (music section chief/Frankfurter Rundschau), Wolfram Knauer (Chairman of the Advisory Board on Music and Head of the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt) and Jörg Süßenbach (Divisional Head of the music section at Goethe Institut).
Which bands are taking part in the third German Jazz Meeting in 2010?
The 18 jurors were each allowed to submit 20 acts and were asked to grade these acts on a scale of 1 to 20. The groups and musicians with the highest total number of points from all the individual votes were the ones that will perform at the third German Jazz Meeting in April 2010. The results are not to be sniffed at. In the end, there were over 150 acts been recommended by the jazz experts. At the time the jury was selecting the performers it was still not clear what form the financing of the third German Jazz Meeting would take in the end. In the meantime we know that with backing from the Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH and the Initiative Musik gGmbH it will be possible to invite a total of 12 bands. For the first time in 2010 German Jazz Meeting receives financial support from the company Baufix in Heidelberg. We do really appreciate the support of all of our cooperation partners and our sponsors which can not be underestimated.
Who benefits from the German Jazz Meeting?
We believe that the German Jazz Meeting in the medium term is going to revive the interest in German jazz abroad and consolidate it. The aim is to heighten the awareness of foreign jazz fans and event organisers to the fact that German jazz musicians have enormous potential and outstanding performance standards in comparison with their international counterparts. On the one hand they are striving to demonstrate their presence, but also to make people eager to find out about the unknown or the lesser known. The real proof of the pudding however will be in a few year’s time when we see the actual number of gigs and engagements German musicians have in other countries. We are optimistic that the GJM in the medium term will be successful, especially if it is accompanied by the efforts of other initiatives like Jazz and World Partners. It is above all of benefit to the musicians, who make a special effort to draw attention to their projects in other countries and to find more opportunities to perform.
How often does the German Jazz Meeting take place?
Although up to now we have still not managed to secure government funding, at least the fair in Bremen was a signal that it was interested in participating in the German Jazz Meeting every two years. Jazzahead! is a serious, long-term project organised by the Messegesellschaft Hansa GmbH trade fair corporation in Bremen and since 2006 has taken place every spring in Bremen. Our aim is to use the German Jazz Meeting to put German musicians in contact with international event organisers in order in the long term to give German jazz the recognition its standard deserves. The way we see it, no way is this going to be the third and last German Jazz Meeting. On the contrary we hope that the musicians as well as the international guests will feel so at home in Germany that they would want to come back.