The Norwegian jazz scene is diverse and vibrant with a large number of jazz clubs, festivals and not least a large number of professional musicians, many of them internationally renowned.

Norway is a young nation built on old shoulders. After independence in 1905 Norway has developed to become one of the wealthiest and happiest countries in the world. When oil fields were discovered offshore in the 1960s, it improvised incredible technologies to extract this liquid wealth and build a strong, stable society with a well funded arts culture. Local jazz has developed along with the country. Public funding and support has enabled international activity and collaborations for musicians.

In 1971, ECM released the label's first Norwegian recording, Afric Pepperbird with the Jan Garbarek Quartet, and since then ECM has been of great importance for the spread of Norwegian jazz internationally. Other notable Norwegian artists such as Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen, Karin Krog, Terje Rypdal, Jon Balke, Sidsel Endresen, Ketil Bjørnstad, Nils Petter Molvær, Trygve Seim, Christian Wallumrød, Jacob Young, Frode Haltli, Tord Gustavsen and Mette Henriette have through the years released records under their own name on ECM.

Since Norwegian jazz made an international name for itself in the 1960s, the scene has shown stylistic diversity. Talented young players – including many women – continue the work of the pioneers through education often based on open-mindedness and experimentation. Norwegian jazz is about diversity in every sense, and increasingly open to influences from contemporary, avant garde, rock, pop, funk, folk and ethnic music from other climates. The musicians are known for being open and crossing genres.

An integral part for the growing jazz scene has been the country’s music education policies. More than 40 years ago the Trondheim Music Conservatory was established as the first school offering college and university level jazz education. Now there are several institutions providing higher education in jazz.

In this elongated country with just over 5 million inhabitants, there are more than 80 jazz clubs and 30 jazz festivals. In the course of one year, around 7,000 jazz concerts are arranged across the country.

With a few exceptions in the major cities, like Victoria – Nasjonal Jazzscene in Oslo, Dokkhuset in Trondheim and Bergen Jazzforum, the jazz clubs are run by enthusiasts and volunteers.  Most festivals are professionally run. The festival tradition is strong in Norway, and several of Europe's oldest jazz festivals are located here, such as Molde International Jazz Festival (60 years) and Kongsberg Jazz Festival (57 years).

As in the rest of Europe, the media situation is difficult. The traditional media have made big cuts in their coverage of arts and music and become far more tabloid. This is especially true of the narrow genres such as jazz.

Guide compiled by Norsk Jazzforum