Hot summer nights, palm trees and toe-tapping tunes, who could ask for more! I adore Nice Jazz Festival and this year’s offering promises great things. Although I will be shedding one or two tears as 2016 has been dedicated to the memory of David Bowie. Each evening, from Saturday through to Wednesday, has a theme: Changes, Let’s Dance, Space Oddity, Black Star, Heroes. In addition, all 30+ performers are said to have been influenced by or have worked with Bowie. This illustrates the breadth of musical styles included in this ‘jazz’ festival, which for purists (like my dad!) may be taking it too far, but for most people opens the door to discover a wide variety of international musical styles based, sometimes loosely, around jazz.
There are two stages set up in Jardin Albert 1er connected by an area selling refreshments and very reasonably priced large glasses of local rosé. The permanent Théatre de Verdure stage has seating and is for the more ‘hardcore’ jazzers . Last year I saw Charles Lloyd there with my dad, himself a jazz saxophonist, and what a pleasure it was to see this longstanding jazz hero light up his face. This year I’m looking forward to the newer and, for once, female stage presence of Géraldine Laurent not to mention the contemporary big band feel of Brooklyn’s Snarky Puppy, an instrumental fusion fest, and Avishai Cohen, arguably one of the world’s best living trumpeters!
The Masséna stage is standing only and more suited to dancing and wailing. And yes, I’ve done both in past years. This year it’s Massive Attack who will be rocking the Riviera along with Youssou N’Dour bringing the sounds of Africa, and other big international names in funk, hip hop, soul and blues, stretching the jazz label to its limits and sometimes beyond. No excuses for missing the free Sunday morning concert from The London Community Gospel Choir, dancing you through to lunchtime.
Last year Jamie Cullum was the ‘godfather’ of the festival bringing his inimitable presence to the proceedings and dancing on his piano, this year Melody Gardot has the honour. A young American singer-songwriter and all round wonder she has played in session on Jamie’s radio show and her voice is as inspiring as her personal journey through music therapy.
Each year I discover a new musical talent to take away with me, and I think the words of Leyla McCalla, whose musical styles just won’t fit into this blog, sum up these 5 days of musical emotions – “I want them to cry, I want them to laugh, I want them to sing, I want them to dance!” I’m sure we will.
For more information on the event please visit www.nicejazzfestival.fr
Article written by Nice local expert Zenna Marshall