Contributor Eddie Bond dove into the history of Jazzfest and its role within Trondheim's music scene with Ernst Wiggo Sandbakk.
If you had asked me three years ago where I thought I would be in 2023, Trondheim, Norway would have not been on my radar. Chances are that I would not have been able to show you Trondheim on a map. However, the city's musical gravity extends far beyond its size.
As a musician, I found my way to Trondheim because of the Jazzlinja program at NTNU, specifically EUJAM, a collaborative, international, exchange-based master's program with conservatories in five cities across Europe. And the same goes for many international artists whose paths bring them to this beautiful city.
But why is Trondheim's creative music scene so good? Well, part of the answer can be found at Trondheim's annual Jazzfest.
A strong history
Built upon the long history of musical talent emerging from NTNU’s Jazzlinja program since the 1980s, Trondheim has developed a strong reputation as a hub for talented, creative musicians. Drummer Ernst Wiggo Sandbakk, the general manager of Trondheim Jazzfestival, was originally a student in NTNU’s Jazzlinja program and performed at the very first Trondheim Jazz Festival in 1980 when it was known as Jazzmazz. “It was amazing to be a student and have a festival gig”, Ernst Wiggo said, adding “We felt like stars.”
The festival operated under the Jazzmazz name for a few years, until interest and funding began to wane in 1987. However, in 1994 a fresh spark of interest and a new partnership between Ernst and fellow drummers Bjørn Krokfoss and Trond Kopperud, in collaboration with Trondheim Jazzforum, helped rejuvenate the festival, now operating under the name Trondheim Jazzfest.
Casting a wide net
This year’s festival continues to build upon the festival’s mission “to front strong artistic content with the main focus on Norwegian, Nordic and European jazz” and to be “both an innovator and a bearer of tradition in jazz.”
Trondheim Jazzfest’s varied program is designed to provide interest to as wide of a range of listeners as possible. Performers at this year’s festival include drum and bass wizard Louis Cole, electronica legend Squarepusher, an opening performance from multi-instrumentalist and composer Stian Carstensen in collaboration with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, a celebratory performance by NTNU Jazzlinja Director Erling Aksdal with the NTNU Jazz Ensemble, and a special performance by legendary drummer Billy Cobham and his band, as well as many others including Superspreder, Veslemøy Narvesen & Han Gaiden, and Les Amazones d’Afrique.
Additionally, the festival literally takes over the entire city scene - performances are on at Dokkhuset, Byscenen, Havet Arena, Olavshallen, Vår Frue kirke, Trykkeriet Scene, DIGS Cafe, Trøndelag Teater, Lokal Scene, Kjøpmannsgata Ung Kunst (K.U.K.) and Rosendal Teater.
Get into the scene
So whether you are a diehard fan of Squarepusher, a fusion enthusiast, a lover of traditional jazz sounds, or simply interested in hearing something new and exciting that you have never heard before, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Trondheim Jazzfest this year.
Tickets for individual concerts are available through the Jazzfest website and there are volunteer opportunities available if you are interested. Dive in and explore the exciting creative music scene of Trondheim!