Nice Jazz Festival
Categories : Going out in Nice, Culture & History, Activities in Nice, published on : 1/4/24
The first jazz festival in the world. Oh yes, it was in Nice, not America, that the world’s first jazz festival was born. This year, we celebrate the 68th anniversary of this event which took place for the first time in February 1948, at the end of the Carnival. And it was in a place dedicated to “great music” that it took place in part: the Opéra! Another establishment, the Municipal Casino, on Place Masséna, which has now disappeared, lent its Belle Époque decor to this resounding premiere, several of whose concerts were broadcast live by French Radio. It must be said that the true greats were there, starting with Louis Armstrong, the undisputed star of this first edition, alongside other stars: Claude Lutter, Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt. During the closing evening, at the Negresco, the party ended at dawn with a torrid jam after the singing sessions of Suzy Delair and Yves Montand. This festival was a historic moment, and jazz could now count on a true audience in France. Through his immense talent and the magnetism of his presence, Louis Armstrong revealed the beauty of this music to many newcomers. In 1948, the capital of the Côte d'Azur celebrated its nuptials with jazz, even though this union was followed by a long separation of 23 years, before a moving reunion.
1971 - 1972
Reunion at the Théâtre de Verdure. The experience wasn’t renewed in Nice until 1971, this time at the Théâtre de Verdure and in the Jardin Albert 1er. For this big comeback, artists flocked to the capital of the Côte d'Azur: Ella Fitzgerald, Pharoah Sanders, T-Bone Walker, Stéphane Grappelli, Herbie Hancock Quintet, Oscar Peterson trio, Roy Elridge, John Lewis, Al Grey, Percy Heath, Connie Key, Dizzy Gillespie, Daniel Humair, Sonny Stitt, Canonball Adderley, Charlie Mingus, Max Roach Trio…
1974 - 1993
The Grand Jazz Parade at the Arènes de Cimiez. But we had to wait until 1974 and the Grand Parade to witness the full revival of jazz in a rural setting, that of the gardens of the Arènes de Cimiez. The festival took on a breath of fresh air and experienced tremendous growth under the impetus of the City of Nice and producer George Wein. Every summer, dozens of groups and more than 200 musicians invaded the different stages amid olive trees and Roman ruins. A hugely popular outdoor party. The biggest names in jazz, including several who have since died, performed there: Stéphane Grappelli, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Carlos Santana…
1994 - 2010
The Grand Parade became the Nice Jazz Festival. While preserving the festive character of the Grand Parade, the Nice Jazz Festival set out to shake up tradition by opening up to diversified musical trends. A popular choice.
2011 - 2012
Live from Jardin Albert 1er. So Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, took the double decision of now managing the festival directly and bringing the event back to the city centre. 40 years later, the festival was back in Jardin Albert 1er and the Théâtre de Verdure, while Jazz Off visited all parts of the city.
A year of renewal. In 2013, nearly 38,000 people attended Nice Jazz Festival, a figure up almost 17% compared to 2012 and more than 24% compared to 2011, with, among others, C2C, Earth Wind and Fire, Ben Harper, Maceo Parker, Chick Corea and George Benson.
A prestigious festival in the wonderful setting of the Promenade du Paillon. The Promenade du Paillon was inaugurated in October 2013 and the Nice Jazz Festival could now take full advantage of this enchanting setting. The Nice Jazz Festival In and its Off welcomed more than 45,000 spectators who attended this open-air party eagerly awaited by all Riviera residents. Major artists once again trod the Masséna stage and that of the Théâtre de Verdure, like Richard Galliano, Keziah Jones, Ibrahim Maalouf, Joshua Redman and living legends such as the Gipsy Kings, Deep Purple and Dr John…
The Nice Jazz Festival, a high point in the history of jazz. The Nice Jazz Festival continued to welcome back the best of the national and international music scene with record attendance, with more than 60,000 people present for the IN and OFF. The 2015 lead figure, iconic of jazz youth, Jamie Cullum, shared the bill with legends such as Charles Lloyd, Kenny Barron, Cerrone, The Roots and Kool and the Gang. Lovers of current music or great voices weren’t left out, with Ms Lauryn Hill, Ibeyi, Yael Naim and Benjamin Clementine.
Event cancelled. Following the tragedy that took place on the evening of 14 July on the Promenade des Anglais, the Prefecture of Alpes-Maritimes and the City of Nice took the decision to cancel the Nice Jazz Festival, which was to start on 16 July.
The Nice Jazz Festival was back and the emotion was palpable throughout the 5 evenings. The event’s lead figure, Herbie Hancock, opened the festival with a speech advocating peace and hope. Each of the artists shared a strong moment with the public, dedicated to the victims of 14 July 2016.
On the bill, Ibrahim Maalouf, -M-, IAM, De La Soul, Deluxe, Youn Sun Nah, Abdullah Ibrahim & Terence Blanchard, Kamasi Washington, Mary J. Blige and many others who brought together nearly 43,000 spectators. A new attendance record for the City.
This year marked the 70th anniversary of the 1st jazz festival in the world, and the true greats met up at the Nice Jazz Festival. From Gregory Porter, lead figure of this edition and one of the most charismatic singers in contemporary jazz, to Randy Weston, via Massive Attack, Rhoda Scott, Jack Johnson, Joshua Redman, Billy Hart, Seun Kuti, Orelsan, Baptiste Trotignon, Mélanie De Biasio, Gary Clark Jr, Avishai Cohen, Parov Stelar, Trio Rosenberg, LP… Although the opening night was cancelled due to bad weather and site security, more than 40,100 spectators attended the 5 evenings of this special edition. To mark the 70th anniversary of the festival, Villa Masséna hosted an exhibition tracing 70 years of love for jazz in Nice, and Gilletta Editions released a brand-new book, "Nice Jazz, history of a festival" by Daniel Chauvet, Gilbert D'Alto and Frederica Randrianome Karsenty.
The people of Nice reclaimed the Nice Jazz Festival under the banner of diversity, and the mixing and intermingling of all cultures. A unifying event, nearly 43,000 spectators made their way from one stage to another. All generations were present in the image of a strong and eclectic programme, including major national and international sets and bold evenings. These included the iconic Black Eyed Peas, the mythical Nile Rodgers & Chic, Omara Portuando and Fred Hersh. An anthology of the jazz scene in all its states, ranging from Ibrahim Maalouf to Jean-Luc Ponty via the new generation represented by Christian Sands, Judy Jackson, Samy Thiebault and the Kokoroko. Young and old also swayed their hips to Angèle and the BigFlo & Oli brothers. During this edition, the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, presented the Ferret trophy to bassist Christian McBride to reward him for his entire career and commitment to Jazz.
Due to the Covid-19 health crisis, the Nice Jazz Festival was cancelled in its usual format. Jazz being part of its DNA, the city of Nice offered new concert formats which enjoyed great success with locals and fans alike. The Nice Jazz Air Sessions (5, 6 and 7 July), 3 evenings filmed from the Nice observatory and broadcast live on the Internet with current projects by Thomas Dutronc, Ayo and Plume; the Nice Jazz Summer Sessions (17 to 21 July) in the atmosphere of an open-air jazz club under the stars of the Théâtre de Verdure, with local artists as a common thread: gospel singer Liz McComb accompanied by the Nice Philharmonic, André Ceccarelli Trio, the Nice Jazz Orchestra feat. Walter Ricci, the Belmondo Quintet and accordionist Richard Galliano who, for his carte blanche, took out his Hammond accordion for an unprecedented concert. To top it off, the Nice Jazz Festival was honoured in prime time on France 3, on 21 August, during a programme recorded under live conditions from Nice, presented in duet by André Manoukian and China Moses. A first for jazz in France, which brought together the best artists of the moment to revisit the greatest standards in the history of jazz from one of the most representative places for jazz in France, the city of Nice.
The Nice Jazz Festival was one of the few events with an initial standing capacity to be held in France during the health crisis. The city of Nice adapted from the beginning of its organisation to ensure that the festival could be held with the strictest measures that could have been imposed. The opportunity to offer a new experience to festival-goers with a unique large stage on the Place Masséna in a 100% seated format, a capacity of 2,800 seats, covid referents on site and a direction of traffic allowing to avoid crossings between spectators.
A successful revisited edition that brought together 15 groups and attracted no less than 12,479 spectators over 5 evenings.
We were able to find the ardour of Catherine Ringer, the freshness of Ayo, or the memorable Kyle Eastwood. A range of jazz in all its forms, from Brandford Marsalis to Brad Mehldau, as well as large groups such as the Amazing Keystone Big Band and its guests: Hugh Coltman, China Moses and Anne Sila. Young and old were also able to discover the talent and emotion of the artist Wookid and Asaf Avidan. Magical moments with notably the singer Omara Portuondo and the pianist Roberto Fonseca accompanied by the Nice Philharmonic conducted by the saxophonist Pierre Bertrand who was awarded the Ferret trophy by the deputy of culture Robert Roux in order to honour his exceptional career as a saxophonist, composer and arranger.
After two editions marked by the health crisis, the Nice Jazz Festival has finally found its two stages for its 2022 edition. For five days, the city of Nice and the municipalities of the Metropolis vibrated to the sounds of the great local, national and international names, the legends of jazz but also the new discoveries that have made our festival famous. In total, 42,500 spectators shared the love of jazz and music, a great success for a post-crisis edition with an exceptional programme that brought together in particular: H.E.R, IGGY POP, CLARA LUCIANI, MELODY GARDOT, IBRAHIM MAALOUF, MARCUS MILLER, PARCELS, CELESTE, FATOUMATA DIAWARA, AVISHAI COHEN, YOUN SUN NAH...
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