This month, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival celebrated its 41st year, and the city remains one of the most hospitable jazz destinations in the world. There were festive events all over town, and you could find music in cafes, parks, theaters and bars as well as at street parties, seaside events and concert halls. There was also plenty of jazz action in the Christiania District, and heavy turnout at longstanding nightclubs like the Jazzhus Montmartre.
Top-notch Danish jazz artists were everywhere, including guitar hero and ECM recording artist Jakob Bro, who played a profoundly intimate gig at Brorson’s Church with bassist Larry Grenadier and percussion master Jorge Rossy. Another amazing show at Brorson’s Church showcased guitarist Pierre Dørge and his New Jungle Orchestra with a special guest: Danish trumpet legend Palle Mikkelborg. Of special note was pianist Nicolaj Hess and his brother, drummer Mikkel Hess, along with their lifelong friend, bassist Anders “AC” Christensen. Their afterhours jam is called Spacelab, and simply put, these guys are the best piano trio in Denmark, and Nicolaj Hess is one of the most inventive jazz pianists working today.
Besides big-ticket concerts presented by the festival like Brazilian singer/hero Gilberto Gil and American bass superstar Marcus Miller, the week also featured an ancillary celebration of New Orleans culture with the Fringe Jazz Fest. Uniting musicians from the USA and Denmark, this was a street-party sound-clash, pure and simple. Showcasing artists like drummer/vocalist Jamison Ross, NOLA trombonist Michael Watson, the Hot 8 Brass Band, the fest was an authentic love letter to Louisiana. There was even a Louis Armstrong tribute and a Mardi Gras Indian party for those who prefer a little more pageantry.