The 2022 Copenhagen Jazz Festival has a lot to offer, although it’s obvious the program has been hit by the corona epidemic – there are fewer big names from abroad this year.
However, that’s a blessing in disguise as it gives you the opportunity to discover local talent.
Besides, most of these musicians can easily hold their own with their more august international counterparts.
Special six to see
The following six concerts are my personal picks from this year’s list.
I’m confident you’ll have a much better chance of landing tickets for these concerts than some of the headliners. And they’ll be cheaper too, which never hurts.
But never fear: if you are unable to get into these concerts, many of the musicians are playing in other combinations during the festival, so it is a matter of checking the program on the official website jazz.dk.
You are best advised …
Official ticket providers can be found on jazz.dk. You are recommended to buy tickets in advance for all major concerts, as they do tend to sell out quickly.
Every venue will sell tickets at the door, provided that the concert is not sold out. Some venues only sell tickets at the door.
Venues such as JazzCup, Sofie Kælder and Drop Inn are not very big, so it is advisable to get there in very good time – even an hour or more early – if you want to be sure of getting in.
Søren Lee Scandinavian Trio
June 24, 20:00; Tranquebar, Borgergade 14, Cph K; 150kr
Søren Lee has been on the scene since the 1980s. A powerful player, his music contains elements of blues and funk – as well as great rhythmic drive and virtuoso high-speed runs. If you are a fan of bands such as Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, you will not be disappointed. Lee is joined by Richard Andersson on bass and Niclas Campagnol on drums.
Mathias Heise Quintet
June 25, 20:00; Søhesten, Sølvgade 103, Cph K; 50kr
Apart from the Belgian Toots Thielemans, the harmonica (mouth organ) has been rather neglected in a jazz context. All the more reason then to lend an ear to Mathias Heise. The young Dane started playing the harmonica as a seven-year-old and has not looked back. Mathias has won a string of awards, released three albums in his own name, and is in great demand internationally. Joining Heise are Rasmus Sørensen on piano, Pelle Von Bülow on guitar, Rune Fog-Nielsen on bass and Morten Lund on drums.
Artur Tuznik Sextet – Spring
July 2, 23:30; Christiania Jazz Club, Psyak 61C, Cph K; 100kr
Artur Tuznik is a young Polish pianist based in Denmark since 2008. His music combines elements of his Polish background and classical composers such as Ravel and Szymanowski. This group includes another Pole, Tomasz Dabrowski, on trumpet, who has also made waves on the international jazz scene. Norwegian trombonist Petter Hängsel, American tenor saxophonist Ned Ferm and Danish bass Anders AC Christensen and drummer Jakob Høyer complete the multi-national line-up.
July 6, 19:00; Haveselskabets Have, Frederiksberg Runddel 1A, Frederiksberg; 310-420kr per table
The trio of Carsten Dahl (piano), Lennart Ginman (bass) and Thomas Blachman (drums) have been playing together for over ten years and have a string of recordings to their name. The piano trio is one of the most enduring combinations in jazz and still has a lot to offer – especially when the group has had time to ‘bed down’ so that they understand each other musically almost telepathically, as this group does.
Enrico Pieranunzi & Thomas Fonnesbæk
July 9, 15:00; Svenska Kyrkan, Folke Bernadottes Allé 4, Cph Ø; 175kr
A frequent visitor to Denmark, a prolific composer and spell-binding player, classically-trained Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi is always a joy to hear. His phenomenal technique is never just for show; there is always a deep musicality to his music that draws on the classic school of Bill Evans but with an Italian twist. Pieranunzi has covered practically all the musical bases from jazz standards to the film music of Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota. Here, he is heard in a duo format with Danish bassist Thomas Fonnesbæk, a combination that has been together long enough to develop that famous telepathy that is so rewarding to the listener.
Tomas Franck New Quartet
July 10, 21:00; Sofie Kælderen, Overgaden oven Vandet 32, Cph K; 100kr
A fitting end to the festival, my final pick is the Tomas Franck New Quartet at the legendary venue Sofie Kælder, Although Swedish, Tomas and his brother Daniel have been living in Denmark for many years and are highly active on the jazz scene. Tomas plays a tough tenor in the school of John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon etc. The ‘New Quartet’ is not really that new (!), so the band (Daniel on bass with Ben Besiakov on piano and Jeppe Gram on drums) fit round the soloists like a glove. It should be a real blast!
Gården og Gaden
Nørrebrogade 88, Cph N; gaaga.dk, @gaardenoggaden
Local, all-day natural wine hangout Gården og Gaden offers the pinnacle of Nørrebro’s people-watching potential. With a sun-splashed street seating, a large, varied cellar and a selection of simple, well-executed dishes, Gården og Gaden is a must-visit – jazz or no jazz. That said, during the festival Gaaga’s gigs are some of the most intimate and easy-going on the calendar. They’re free and acoustic, and guests can enjoy the music alongside the friendly small-bar energy. With strong ties to the local arts scene, Gaaga puts on an excellent range of high-quality and offbeat events.
Store Regnegade 19A, Cph K; jazzhusmontmartre.dk
It would be a crime to omit Jazzhus Montmartre from a list of top jazz venues. The historic club – which once hosted masters like Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster and Stan Getz – was reopened in 2010 by journalist-turned-entrepreneur Rune Bech and jazz pianist Niels Lan Doky. Soon after, the New York Times hyped Montmartre on its authoritative Copenhagen city guide under the headline ‘Rebirth Of Cool’. Its nickname, ’The Village Vanguard of Europe’, pays homage to its legendary sister club in New York. The jazz manifesto to which Montmartre strives emphasises international talent, intimate performances and a non-profit structure that reinvests all takings into improving the venue.
Gothersgade 107, Cph K; jazzklubben.dk/jazzcup
Jazzcup is a combined record store, café and venue that, since 1987, has had as its MO “to sell and spread the knowledge of good music”. Not only do they host some of the city’s best musicians, Jazzcup also offers a membership to ’Jazzklubben’. Members get six editions of Jazz Special – Denmark’s only dedicated jazz magazine – per year, plus discounts on gig tickets and records. During the festival it’s packed from open to close and is a no-brainer for anyone looking to keep their finger on the pulse of the Scandinavian jazz scene.