Staging Jazz Pasts within Commercial European Jazz Festivals: The Case of the North Sea Jazz Festival

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    This article examines the North Sea Jazz Festival in order to highlight the growing influence of both ‘convergence culture’ (Jenkins) and prevailing jazz mythologies upon the reception and organization of contemporary European jazz festivals. In particular, the European jazz festival is examined within the context of increasing commercialization and digital mediation of the live music field. To stake my claim, I first sketch the context within which European jazz festivals arose, especially as initially driven by curators/aficionados, whose longing for ‘authentic’ jazz within natural (resort) surroundings provided the basis for our current European jazz mythology. Next, drawing from both secondary sources and journalistic reviews, I trace how the North Sea Jazz Festival transitioned from an independently curated event to a highly professionalized media festival in Rotterdam, northern Europe’s most modern, post-industrial jazz city. Finally, my close reading of the recent North Sea Jazz Festival’s headlining, crossover Dutch jazz artist, Caro Emerald, reveals how this transformation encouraged associations with the so-called European jazz myth, one which privileged Europeans’ connections to past American aesthetics and promoted New York–based jazz ‘heroes’ alongside crossover European jazz acts. My research draws from the fields of cultural studies, historiography, ethnomusicology and media studies to postulate a multidisciplinary theoretical perspective for examining jazz ideologies in light of large-scale transformations of festival culture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-166
    Number of pages26
    JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
    Issue number2
    Early online date27-Apr-2016
    Publication statusPublished - Apr-2017

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