EJN Staff Exchange Programme

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Previous participant: Enrico Bettinello

From: NovaraJazz (Italy)
to: Katowice JazzArt Festival (Poland)
24 April - 01 May 2018

Thanks to Europe Jazz Network staff exchange program I spent a week in Katowice, in order to follow the 7th JazzArt Festival, organized by Miasto Ogrodow Cultural Center.

I followed the set up and the opening of the exhibition “Auand Story” dedicated to Italian label Auand. I am one of the co-curators of the exhibition and I worked with the technical and the curatorial staff. The exhibition opened the Festival, with a huge success. In the first days of the Festival, I followed the residency of three Italian musicians (Piero Bittolo Bon, Manlio Maresca and Stefano Tamborrino) and their workshop in a special school for disabled kids. In the last days, I followed the main activities.

One of the characteristics of the festival (and of the visionary curatorial ideas of Martyna Markowska) I was interested in (having the same ideas in Novara and in my freelance curating) is that JazzArt covers a wide range of languages: some are quite far from the usual (and slippery) “borders” of the “jazz” term itself, but this choice resides more in a clear vision of what new communities of listeners could need, than in a planned marketing smartness. Other interesting aspect: the venues are varied and each carries a special adding value to the music, re- defining the relationship between spaces, sounds and listening habits.

Some of the concerts are in the nice Hipnoza JazzClub and in the big concert-hall of Miasto Ogrodów (City Of Garden) cultural center, but the program offers the opportunity of experiencing music in a church (where the French Quatuor Machaut has performed a fascinating saxophone polyphony), in an art gallery (with the Rimbaud #4 project), in a special school (where the Italian improvisers had shared the workshop with disabled kids), in a studio (an intriguing audio/visual performance by Arcade Fire’s drummer Jeremy Gara), in a garage, an ex movie theatre, a jail or an old mine building.
Different venues implies different audiences, an aspect that I could examine in depth.

Another great issue: attention to geographies and gender: the program hosted Amir ElSaffar and Hafez Modirzadeh (US musicians coming from Iraq and Iran), Ganavya Doraiswamy and Rajna Swaminathan (of Indian origin), of course a great choice of European musicians. During my staying I could delve into local history (the Silesian Museum, the small village of Nikisowiecz) and society, as well as study the way the JazzArt Festival is built and managed. On monday I took part in a panel about "Curating jazz today", with colleagues like Tony Dudley Evans, Martyna Markowska and Andrey Henkin.

All the staff from Miasto Ogrodow has been extremely friendly and helpful, I want to thank them all. It's been a unique and formative experience.