The Barcelona International Jazz Festival began in 1966 with performances by Dave Brubeck and his quartet at the Palau de la Música Catalana and has been drawing jazz fans to Barcelona from around the world ever since. Other than three years in the late 1970s (1977-1979) when the festival did not take place, Barcelona has been hosting this incredible musical event for nearly half a century. Through the years, some of the most famous jazz musicians in history have performed in Barcelona: Dizzy Gillepsie, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bebo Valdés (whose son, Chucho Valdés, performs this year at the festival) and Ornette Coleman. In 2002 Voll-Damm (which is brewed in Barcelona) became the main sponsor of the jazz festival and added their brand name to the event. Despite the name change, the caliber of artists performing at the festival is just as strong as ever, this year featuring such talents as Béla Fleck, Chick Corea, Buika, Iron & Wine and many, many more.
The 47th edition of the jazz festival kicked off on September 26th with a sold-out performance by Diana Krall at the Auditori del Fòrum and will resume its normal schedule on October 22nd with a performance by Chick Corea & the Vigil at L’Auditori de Barcelona. This year also the saw the first ever Jazz & Food event held on October 3rd in the Parc del Centre del Poblenou (designed by Jean Nouvel). Despite cloudy skies and the occasional rain shower, the event was a huge success with over 20,000 people visiting throughout the 12 hour event.
This free event hosted by Voll-Damm, independent magazine BCN MÉS, and the concert promoters and organizers of the festival, TheProject, featured seven different bands and jazz performances and food from over a dozen restaurants from around Barcelona. Festival-goers were invited to sit and listen to free music all day and enjoy an array of food, coffee, ice cream, and of course, Voll-Damm beer. The Liceu Big Band kicked off the event with an impressive set and was followed by La Calor, Grégory Privat & Sonny Troupé, Perdiu Grouse Brass Band, Orquesta Ilegal de Barcelona, Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra, marching band Barcelona Street Parade, and finally wrapped up by The Excitements. Food from Barcelona favorites, including This & That, De la Crem, Casa Xica, The Grasshopper Ramen, Caravan Made and more, could be purchased with tokens between or during the performances that started at noon and lasted until midnight. After a hugely successful inaugural event, the organizers of the Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona have already started planning Jazz & Food 2016.
Jazz & Food isn’t the only musical and gastronomic pairing of the festival this year; on November 8th, 22nd, and 29th, at the Jazz en Família events, families can enjoy chocolate con churros and performances by the Big Band de l’Escola de la Concepció at the Gran Hotel Havana Barcelona. Also on at the Gran Hotel Havana Barcelona are Cocktail & Swing events every Friday night starting October 30th, and Sopar & Blues, an event taking place both the 5th of November and the 3rd of December which will include dinner, drinks, and a performance. Stacey Kent’s performance at the Cotton Club – Casino Barcelona on November 28th will also include a full meal.
If concerts and food aren’t enough, this year’s artists are also offering master classes for jazz enthusiasts and musicians of all levels. From October 28th to November 27th artists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Melissa Aldana and Uri Caine will be hosting classes on guitar, saxophone, piano, banjo, trumpet and percussion.
This year’s 47th Voll-Damm Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona started strong with a fantastic concert by Diana Krall and the first ever free Jazz & Food event, and with tickets for concerts, events, and master classes starting at just €10, it promises a fall full of entertainment and incredible jazz performances.