Ystad: From one Kurt to another

Mark Gilbert previews the 2012 Ystad jazz festival, another good reason - after Wallander - for southern Sweden to be on the UK's cultural radar

Kurt RosenwinkelThe southern Swedish town famed for fictional detective Kurt Wallander welcomes another Kurt in August - Kurt Rosenwinkel, the leading contemporary US jazz guitarist, who caused controversy in 2011 for saying on Facebook that "most jazz now sucks" (an opinion later widely debated and extensively qualified by KR).

Rosenwinkel (pictured right) is just one name on a roster of eminent international players billed for the Ystad Jazz Festival (2-5 August) that shows jazz in its most diverse and - Kurt will surely agree - suckless light. Now in its third incarnation, the festival has a programme that illuminates almost every dimension of jazz style and history, that breadth embodied particularly in the long and varied career of its 2012 guest of honour, Quincy Jones.

Eliane EliasDirected by Jazz Journal poll winner Jan Lundgren, the festival this year features a range of musicians likely to cater for every taste all well as introduce the more factional visitor to new sounds. Among the players announced so far are Tomasz Stanko, Billy Harper, Terje Rypdal, China Moses, Arild Andersen, Hiromi, Bengt Hallberg, Tommy Scott, Anders Bergcrantz, Richard Galliano, Eliane Elias (pictured left), Nils Landgren, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marc Johnson, Benny Green, Paolo Vinnacia, Caecilie Norby, Claire Martin, Paolo Fresu, LaGaylia Frazier, Sinne Eeg, Deborah Brown, Bengt-Arne Wallin, Victor Lewis, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bernt Rosengren and many more international and local names.

The full lineup is here and among the editor's forecast highlights, illustrating the calibre of leaders and sidemen, are:

Terje Rypdal (NO) – guitar, Ketil Bjørnstad (NO) – piano
Eliane Elias (US) – piano, vocals, Marc Johnson (US) – bass, Rafael Barata (US) – drums, Rubens De LaCorte (US) – guitar
Anders Bergcrantz – trumpet, Billy Harper (US) – tenor sax, Victor Lewis (US) – drums, Robert Tjäderkvist – piano, Mattias Svensson – bass
Claire Martin (UK) – vocals, Gareth Williams (UK) – piano, Laurence Cottle (UK) – bass, Kristian Leth (DK) – drums
Kurt Rosenwinkel (US) – guitar, Ugonna Okegwo (US) – bass,  Justin Faulkner (US) – drums
Bengt Hallberg – piano, Jan Lundgren – piano (NO) - their 2011 Back 2 Back album reviewed in Jazz Journal, February 2012, p26
Tomasz Stanko (POL) –trumpet, Dominik Wania (POL) – piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz (POL) – bass, Olavi Louhivuori (FIN) – drums
Arild Andersen (NO) – double bass, Tommy Smith (UK) – sax, Paolo Vinaccia (IT) – drums
Jan Lundgren – piano, Paolo Fresu (IT) – trumpet, Richard Galliano (FR) – accordion (pictured below)
Benny Green (US) – piano, Ben Wolfe (US) – bass, Rodney Green (US) – drums
Quincy Jones (US) - guest of honour, Bengt-Arne Wallin (musical director), Bohuslän Big Band with guests: Nils Landgren – trombone/vocals , LaGaylia Frazier – vocals, Viktoria Tolstoy – vocals, Joachim Bergström – vocals, Caecilie Norby (DK) – vocals, Jan Lundgren Trio

Mare NostrumIn an age when city-bound concert series often dominate the so-called festival landscape, Ystad hews close to the more traditional festival idea. Despite its musical breadth, it operates on a relatively small scale, the town having an intimate geography conducive to a genuine festival atmosphere. All major events take place in the centre of town and are within easy walking distance of each other.

For those wishing to combine a Scandinavian summer holiday (perhaps taking in Copenhagen's star-studded jazz history) with the opportunity to sample a broad range of jazz old and new, it's hard to imagine a better place than Ystad in August. For a flavour of the event, check the extensive Jazz Journal review of Ystad Jazz 2011.

Ystad is easily reached by train or car from Copenhagen and Malmö airports via low-cost airlines to both cities from the UK. Full details at ystadjazz.se. For accommodation and booking info in English and other languages visit ystad.se/tourism or call Ystad Tourist Information Office +46 (0)411-57 76 81.

The editor's 2011 modus motus - a 1400-mile motorcycle round trip from London - may not suit all visitors.

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