North Sea Jazz Festival

North Sea Jazz Festival
The North Sea Jazz Festival, also known as simply North Sea Jazz or NSJ, is an annual jazz festival held in Rotterdam, Netherlands on the second weekend of July. One of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe, it has been held continually for over four decades.

The North Sea Jazz Festival was founded by Dutch businessman and jazz lover Paul Acket who wanted to present a great diversity of jazz music to Dutch audiences, from classic American jazz to European avant-garde.

The inaugural North Sea Jazz Festival was held in 1976 in the Hague. With its six stages and 30 hours of music, it was a great success. The festival featured about 300 performances by world-class musicians which attracted over 9,000 jazz lovers from around the country. The line-up featured many jazz legends, including Count Basie, Miles Davis, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, and Sarah Vaughan.

The festival was held in the Hague for almost 30 years. However, in 2006 NSJ’s venue, the Statenhal in the World Forum, was demolished to make place for the European Police Office building. The event had to move to Ahoy Rotterdam, a convention center and arena with a capacity of over 15,000 seats. Over the years, North Sea Jazz has grown to 15 stages and more than a thousand musicians. It attracts about 25,000 visitors a day and between 65,000 and 70,000 visitors over all three days. Despite its considerable attendance, the festival still retains its intimate atmosphere.

The North Sea Jazz Festival is known worldwide because it encompasses many music styles instead focusing on only one or a few. It presents traditional New Orleans jazz, swing, fusion, bebop, gospel music, blues, funk music, soul music, and even drum’n’bass. According to the organizers, NJS is the “event where the past, present and future of jazz are featured within three days”.

Since 1985, North Sea Jazz has presented awards to encourage and support emerging artists that deserve more recognition. Originally known as the Bird Award, the festival’s main award was renamed the Paul Acket Award in 2006 to honor the founder of NSJ.

Alongside the main festival, the NSJ team organizers other events. For example, North Sea Jazz Kids is a one-day music festival designed to introduce jazz to kids in a fun way. Its program includes exciting concerts and music workshops. NSJ also has a sister festival titled Curaçao North Sea Jazz. It is held every September in Curaçao, a Lesser Antilles island country in the Dutch Caribbean region.

North Sea Jazz Festival





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