Scandinavia – the Best Jazz Region in the World?


Jazz brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts from all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raises awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforces international cooperation and communication.

This international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change. Is this the reason why the Scandinavian jazz scene has been internationally acclaimed?

In 1987 American jazz pianist Armen Donelian wrote the following:

“For a musician coming to Norway from the United States, such as myself, it’s very refreshing to play with Scandinavian musicians who are familiar with the methodology of improvisation but have a different tradition. I have a different experience playing with Norwegians than I do with musicians in New York, where I live.

The Norwegians’ sense of rhythm is freer, and there is a darker, more introspective quality  to their music. I don’t want to say American Jazz musicians are burdened, but we have a tradition, a tradition from the’40s through the ’60 of using Broadway show tunes and pip music (as springboard for improvisation). And a tradition is at once beautiful and limiting. We may not be able to conceive of playing certain things in certain ways because we conceive of playing them in other ways.

The same holds true for Norwegians. Although jazz has been played in Norway at least since the ‘20s, they don’t have the tradition that goes back top black slaves coming out of the Mississippi Delta. They have their own pop tunes and their own folk tradition.

Norwegian (read Scandinavian) jazz musicians are knowledgeable about the American tradition, but because they grew up outside of it, they have a certain freedom to take whatever they want from that tradition and incorporate it into their own.”

Scandinavia – the Best Jazz  Region in the World?
Copenhagen Jazz Festival

Copenhagen Jazz Festival July 4 – 13
Every single summer since 1979 Copenhagen Jazz Festival has been taking over Copenhagen as one of Europe’s most important international music events based on eminent artistic quality and a sharp focus on new departures in both Danish and international jazz. Lasting 10 days, the festival envelops the Danish capital, offering a sumptuous musical feast to the 250,000 guests who join us year after year. Enjoying live jazz on the city’s streets, in its clubs cafés and concert halls, and at open-air night venues – all in the very heart of historical Copenhagen.

Copenhagen’s legendary status as one of the jazz capitals of Europe grew in the 1950s and 1960s, when a whole host of leading American jazz icons had their creative base in the city. Among those who have called Copenhagen home are Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Ben Webster, Stuff Smith, Ed Thigpen, Thad Jones and Kenny Drew. Each and every one of them has drawn inspiration from Denmark’s jazz scene and the era’s most important jazz club: Jazzhus Montmartre. This was also the time when some of Denmark’s best musicians had their international breakthrough, musicians like Alex Riel, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Palle Mikkelborg.

Copenhagen’s unique jazz history is a key factor in the exceptionally high level of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, something that can be experienced at the many free open-air stages strategically located throughout the historical city centre. Together with Copenhagen’s record number of cafés and music venues, these stagers create a unique atmosphere, bringing the city alive with jazz from early morning to late at night. As Signe Lopdrup, director of Copenhagen Jazz Festival, says: “People don’t only come for a fantastic musical experience, but for the unique atmosphere throughout Copenhagen when jazz takes over the city.”

The festival audience can listen to top international jazz names at the stunning Royal Theatre, Copenhagen’s Opera House and Jean Nouvel’s architectural world-class Koncerthus – as well as along the harbour front, where they can take a dip in the clear waters to the sounds of Danish and international jazz. Copenhagen Jazz Festival also proudly presents music at the border of jazz and other genres as part of the programme ‘Something Else’. And everyone’s welcome to take their kids to the beautiful parks to the east of the city where thousands of children and their parents flock every summer to enjoy a packed programme of live jazz, circus, painting workshops and singing – all part of the ‘Jazz for Kids’ festival programme.

Copenhagen Jazz Festival takes a pride in reaching many – and new – audiences, with tailor-made programmes for pensioners and teenagers, kids and their families, as well as catering for jazz aficionados and enthusiasts. Visitors can look forward to Copenhagen as a friendly and creative city where it’s safe to wander around accompanied by jazz night and day. A modern and open-minded metropolis that can be experienced at its very best during Copenhagen Jazz Festival.

Scandinavia – the Best Jazz  Region in the World?
Oslo Jazz Festival


Oslo Jazz Festival August 11 – 16
For jazz lovers, this annual event in Oslo is the ultimate festival. The Oslo Jazz Festival takes place every year in mid-August and attracts thousands of music-lovers during the Norwegian capital’s festival.

The Oslo Jazz Festival offers visitors a variety of performances and concerts – not only jazz, but also entertainment in similar musical styles like blues and soul. Among the big names are Bebel Gilberto and John Hammond, and there are countless other well-known jazz performers.

The jazz festival’s main venues are the Grand Hotel, the Oslo Domkirke (Oslo Cathedral), and the Oslo Konserthus (Concert House) in Norway’s capital Oslo.


Stockholm Jazz Festival October 10 – 19
Stockholm Jazz Festival is one of Sweden’s oldest festivals and Stockholm’s biggest jazz events. Stockholm Jazz Festival is a festival with a solid reputation in the music world and is considered one of the most well kept and friendly festivals that long had it’s home on the island of Skeppsholmen. With the move to Skansen in 2011 we began the journey into the future.

Scandinavia – the Best Jazz  Region in the World?
Stockholm Jazz Festival

In 2012 the festival landed indoors, on the best venues in Stockholm. The festival moved to the Concert Hall (Konserthusert), House of Culture ( Kulturhuset), and, of course, to the jazz club Fasching. But it didn’t stop there! 2012 was also the year when the festival spread out over nearly 20 “satellite venues” around Stockholm and many more all over the country!

It’s now 2014 and we’re looking forward to another great festival. It will be a real jazz manifestation. Ten days, with over twenty venues, filled with the best jazz!

There are several other jazz concerts in the three Scandinavian countries during the summer months:

Rømø Jazz June 13 -15
Roskilde Jazz Days June 20 – 22
Riverboat Jazz Festival, Silkeborg June 25 – 29
Allinge Jazz Festival, Bornholm July 7 – 13
Aarhus Jazz Festival July 12 – 19
Harbor Jazz, Vordingborg July 14
Maribo Jazz Festival July 17 – 20
Canal Jazz, Løgstør July 23 – 26
Ribe Jazz Festival July 24 – 27
Aeroe Jazz Festival July 28 – August 3
Femoe Jazz Festival July 29 – August 3
Middelfart Jazz Festival July 31 – August 2
Ringkøbing Fjord Jazz Festival August 7 – 9
Livoe Jazz Festival August 8 – 10
Blue Jazz and Blues Festival, Aalborg August 14 – 17
Tisvilde College Jazz Festival August 18 – 22
Snake City Jazz Festival, Slangerup August 21 – 24
Haderslev Jazz Festival September 5 – 7

Stavanger International Jazz Festival May 6 – 11
Trondheim Jazz Festival May 7 – 10
Hamar Jazz Festival May 7 – 10
Balestrand Jazz Festival May 9 – 11
Night Jazz in Bergen May 22 – 23
Midsummer Jazz in Aalesund May 23 – 24
The Groove Valley Jazz Camp, Beiarn July I  – 5
Kongsberg Jazz Festival July 2 – 5
Molde International Jazz Festival August 6 – 10
Arendal Jazz and Blues Festival July 23 – 26
Haugesund International Jazz Festival August 6 – 10
Hemnesberget Jazz August 7 – 10
Vadsø International Jazz Festival August 6 – 10
Robert Norman Festival, Sarpsborg August 19 – 24
Mountain Jazz, Beitostoelen August 29 – 31
Point, Kristiansand September 4 – 6
Mo i Rana Crucible, October 8 – 11
Jølster Jazz October 10 – 12
Lillehammer Jazz Festival October 16 – 19

Old Town Jazz Festival, Gothenburg May 9 – 10
Huddinge Jazz and Blues May 23 – 24
Kalottjazz and Blues Festival, Haparanda, June 26 – 29
Mannaminne New Orleans-Festival, Häggvik July 25 – 27
Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival July 31 – August 3
Hällevik Tradjazz Festival August 7 – 10
Umeaa Jazz Festival October 22 – 26

Scandinavia – the best jazz region in the world?