Umeå Jazzfestival: Jazz it up in Umeå
By Emma Rodin
As one of Sweden’s oldest music events within its genre, Umeå Jazz Festival has been painting the red with jazz since 1968. Free from prestige and a haven for music lovers everywhere, the festival is a great opportunity to hear both international legends and new stars.
The festival was born after founder Lars Lystedt, a familiar face on Umeå’s entertainment scene, organised a concert with Louis Armstrong in the city. Lystedt felt confident that a jazz festival in Umeå would fly, despite the city being somewhat hard to reach on Sweden’s northeast coast.
Fast forward to 2023 and the planning for this year’s edition, which runs from 25-28 October, is in full swing. Lystedt’s gut feeling was right; the festival is a roaring success. Today, it is run by festival manager Jonas Knutsson and project coordinator Helena Karlsson.
Something for everyone
Although the festival has tradition at its core, there’s a constant drive to evolve and grow. “We’re always thinking about new ways to reach more people,” says Knutsson. “We ask ourselves, how we can make the festival relevant for today, both in Sweden and in Europe, and which path will take us into the future?”
So far, five of some 30 acts have been announced, and they include something for everyone. There’s legendary drummer Hamid Drake’s cosmic tribute to Alice Coltrane, the sweet voice of Amanda Ginsburg, Nils Landgren and his red trombone, Marilyn Mazur’s magical Shamania and late-night club bangers from rRoxymore.
Jazz is all around
The main performances will take place in Umeå’s Folkets Hus, however jazz will be sprinkled all over town. Local bands will play at restaurants, bars and shopping centres, there will be a jazz quiz, yoga classes accompanied by live music, and even a special collaboration between local musicians and the Fire Orchestra.
“Our strength has always been in our rich programme, offering lots of different ways to consume jazz,” tells Karlsson. “And because we pride ourselves on great quality and consistency, people know that they’ll always get amazing value even if they’re not already familiar with every act.”
Open, friendly and laid back, Umeå Jazz Festival welcomes seasoned jazz fans and curious newcomers alike. In Knutsson’s own words, it’s all brought together by music’s healing power and ability to lift us up.
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