Since the 1960s Norway’s jazz musicians have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally. Performers such as Jan Garbarek, Karin Krog and Terje Rypdal are renowned throughout the jazz world. Nils Petter Molvær, Sissel Endresen and Bugge Wesseltoft have also received international acclaim. Today musicians such as Trygve Seim, Pål Nilssen-Love and Håkon Kornstad, and ensembles such as Atomic, Wibutee and Jaga Jazzist all belong to the international jazz elite. Norwegian jazz has become more and more popular in recent years, both among its rapidly expanding Norwegian public and, even more visibly, on the international market. While this is mostly due to the talent of the musicians themselves, there has also been a targeted effort from the jazz community at large to implement a deliberate and well-planned strategy. These efforts have been closely followed up by the public authorities.

The Norwegian Jazz Forum is a well-functioning organization that includes among its active members most Norwegian jazz musicians (400), jazz clubs (60) and jazz festivals (20). The organization is divided into five regional jazz centres in Bodø, Trondheim, Bergen, Kristiansand and Oslo. These regional centres have emerged as vital sources of information and expertise within their areas. Their operations are based on annual allocations that are administered through agreements with the host municipalities, the relevant counties and the State as represented by the Norwegian Council for Cultural Affairs. Each centre has a core professional staff, but a large part of the work is carried out by local volunteers and enthusiasts.

Much of the success currently enjoyed by the Norwegian jazz community is due to the high standards employed with regard to both the organizational sphere and educational opportunities. A new programme in rhythmic studies recently introduced at various national colleges and universities has contributed greatly to these developments. In particular, the jazz programme at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim has helped to make Norway a leader in the field of jazz training. Thanks to such efforts, the Norwegian jazz scene has gained a reputation as one of the most innovative in Europe today.

Bringing this training in rhythmic studies to upper secondary school level and to schools for the arts will also give children and young people greater insight into jazz. A large number of new performers began their musical careers in their school bands and other amateur music arenas throughout the country. This ensures that recruitment to the jazz community can be drawn from a broad base in the future.

Not only has the market for jazz as a genre expanded in recent years, but Norwegian jazz festivals have also gained wider recognition. Over 20 top-quality jazz festivals attract increasingly larger audiences each year. These festivals provide work opportunities for Norwegian jazz musicians and give them access to international artists who provide inspiration and enable them to reach a broader public.

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Jan GarbarekPhoto:

Sidsel Endresen and Bugge WesseltoftPhoto: Sebastian Ludvigsen/ Håkon Kornstad

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