2020 EJN Awards winners

EJN each year bestows three different awards: the EJN Award for "Adventurous Programming", the EJN Award for "Music & Community" and the EJN "Zenith Award" for emerging artists, this last one in collaboration with 12 Points Festival.

The EJN Award for Adventurous Programming is awarded annually to a European jazz promoter who exemplifies the values of EJN and has succeeded in turning vision and skill into forward-looking and fascinating musical programmes for their audience. The award reached its 9th edition in 2020, and was bestowed to two outstanding European jazz clubs: Porgy & Bess in Vienna (Austria) and Victoria - Nasjonal jazzscene in Oslo (Norway). 

For the very first time, the jury of this year decided to bestow the award ex-aequo to these two clubs, as a recognition for the seamless quality of their programming and for their commitment to providing emerging artists with high-quality spaces to perform in front of always-attentive audiences.

Even though the final decision about the winners was taken back in February 2020, the choice of two venues seems even more relevant now, in a moment where music venues all around the world are heavily suffering the consequences of the covid-19 pandemic and experiencing deep uncertainties about their upcoming concert seasons. Recognising the amazing work of these two clubs for us is also a way to underline the essential role that venues all around the world are playing right now in offering high-quality music and cultural experiences despite many limitations, experimenting with new fruition models and continuing to provide working opportunities to musicians and technical teams at a time when it is most needed.

The Award winners were selected through a two-phase process: in the first step all the 150+ Europe Jazz Network (EJN) member organisations from 35 countries were asked to indicate a potential award winner (not necessarily an EJN member) during the last General Assembly held in Novara in September 2019. Later on, a selected jury of EJN members and other respected music professionals in Europe met online in February 2020 and chose the winners out of the resulting list of 28 nominated promoters (festivals, clubs and concert venues).

“The 2020 EJN Award for Adventurous Programming has been unanimously assigned to two iconic European jazz clubs: Porgy & Bess in Vienna (Austria) and Victoria-Nasjonal jazzscene in Oslo (Norway). Both venues offer high quality working conditions for the musicians performing and adventurous and thrilling programming for their audiences. The jury has decided to give the EJN Award to both clubs because it's not possible for the jury to state that one of these great ambassadors of creative music is better than the other. Victoria, Nasjonal jazzscene and Porgy & Bess are institutions that are exploring and developing the jazz genre through strong artistic equality and musical diversity. Congratulations for this well-deserved international recognition!”

The 2020 Jury was composed by: Rosa Galbany (Taller de Músics/Jazz I Am, Spain), Karolina Juzwa (Wytwórnia Foundation/Intl Jazz Platform, Poland), Soweto Kinch (Artist and Radio Presenter, UK), Øyvind S. Larsen (Oslo Jazzfestival, Norway) & Edin Zubčević (JazzFest Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, previous EJN Award Winner)

Previous winners have been: Jazz Fest Sarajevo (2019), Jazz Festival Ljubljana in Slovenia (2018), Tampere Jazz Happening in Finland (2017), Manchester Jazz Festival in the UK (2016), Moers Festival in Germany (2015), Jazz em Agosto in Portugal (2014), Bimhuis in the Netherlands (2013) and 12 Points Festival in Ireland (2012).

During the annual EJN General Assembly of Members 2020, that took place on 10 September 2020 for the first time entirely online, the winner of the third EJN Award for Music & Community was announced. The EJN Board of Directors have decided to award JazzDanmark for their outstanding achievements in the area of music and community:

“Congratulations to JazzDanmark! For many years, JazzDanmark has been recognised as a leader in best practice in the area of social inclusion, with a particular emphasis on gender balance in jazz. Via projects that address the specific topic of empowering women and girls to embrace jazz and by working across diverse, refugee communities, the EJN and the wider jazz community, recognises that JazzDanmark’s engagement with social inclusion is a role model, admired by institutions and organisations across Europe. JazzDanmark has created sustainable formulas that carry universal messages. By looking into the future and planting the seeds of creativity among the youngest members of different communities and societies, JazzDanmark’s legacy will be heard, seen and felt way into the future."

The EJN Board of Directors 2019-2020
Jan Ole Otnæs - President​ (Nasjonal jazzscene – Victoria, Norway), Martel Ollerenshaw - Vice-President (Australian Music Centre, Australia), Edin Zubcevic - Secretary (JazzFest Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Kenneth Killeen - Treasurer (Improvised Music Company, Ireland), Lobke Aelbrecht - Member (JazzLab - Belgium), Enrico Bettinello - Member (NovaraJazz, Italy), Sunna Gunnlaugsdóttir - Member (Solfinna - Kopavogur, Iceland), Minnakaisa Kuivalainen - Member (Tampere Jazz Happening, Finland), Martyna Markowska - Member (Katowice JazzArt Festival, Poland)“

Each year since 2018 EJN, the Europe-wide association of promoters, presenters and organisations who specialise in creative music, contemporary jazz and improvised music, awards a European organisation tackling with success the issue of social inclusion in its communities. Previous recipients of the Award have been Rustica X Band of Pasquale Innarella from Italy (2019) and Banlieues Bleues from France for their “actions musicales” (2018).

The EJN Award for Music and Community is one of the three Awards that EJN bestows each year. The other two are the “EJN Award for Adventurous Programming”, that started in 2012, and the “Zenith Award for Emerging Artists”, started by EJN in 2019 in collaboration with 12 Points Festival.

The EJN Zenith Award shines a spotlight on one remarkable European ensemble or solo project working in creative jazz and improvised music, with the winner selected from the carefully curated 12 acts performing at 12 Points festival, all coming from different European countries. The Award celebrates the ensemble’s ability to break musical boundaries while demonstrating an original approach to performance and a potential for a strong, ongoing international career. The name “Zenith Award” was adopted to reflect the level of excellence in the winning act, and its capacity to show a way forward for the future of creative music in Europe. The first winner of the EJN Zenith Award has been Trio Heinz Herbert from Switzerland.