Jazz Festival Brasil 2009

Apologies for my extended absence. I’ve been slightly overwhelmed by a new ‘gig’ and I’m just getting life back in order!

A few months ago I took on the job of Artistic Director for Jazz Festival Brasil, foolishly thinking I’d have lots of fun organising the biggest festival of it’s kind in the country. I’ve since discovered new extremes of bureaucracy and, thusly (not a proper word but I love it anyway) new depths of stress! There is, literally, paperwork for everything – which has to be printed in triplicate, at the least, and signed and then have the signature authenticated before going on to someone else who kindly tells you you’ve omitted a particular word which HAS to be used, and therefore you will need to re-do the entire process from scratch. I’ve also been amazed at the huge differences between musicians’ organisational skills. I was ‘brought up’ by a particular group of musicians to whom professionalism, punctuality, appearance and high levels of musicianship were utmost. I presumed, naively, that everyone was like that. When I arrived in Brazil, I was (and continue to be) infuriated by the general lack of professionalism. I have recently discovered that it exists everywhere! There seems to be no middle ground here – one is either professional in the extreme or a completely disorganised mess!

Anyway, the Festival starts next week in Recife, on the north coast of Brazil. We then go down to Rio de Janeiro and up to Belo Horizonte, where I live. One of my initial goals was to open up the scope of the festival. It was always more traditional jazz for the entire festival, which I felt was very narrow minded. Luckily the producer of the festival, Leo Soltz, agreed and we started working on different approaches. This is obviously something which doesn’t happen overnight, especially as the festival is in it’s 7th year. This year, in addition to Bob Wilber/Dany Doriz, Jazz 6 (led by the wonderful Brazilian author Luis Fernando Verissimo) and the official Jazz Festival Brasil Band with special guest Kristine Mills, we are bringing up the Gangbé Brass Band from Benin, South Africa. This is hopefully the start of an interesting new chapter and one that I hope will bring plenty of new friends along.

Last year I wrote a daily blog whilst on tour with Judy Carmichael during this very festival and I will try to do the same this year. As I will be writing from a different perspective it’ll be interesting to compare the two afterwards!

As always, please let me know if there is anything specific you’d like to hear about.