Strike up the band

The North Sea jazz festival is back in Rotterdam on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of July and promises to be as eccentric as ever, with an impressive line-up scheduled.

Ahoy Rotterdam is set to play host to a diverse range of musical performers including Pharrell Williams, Earth, Wind and Fire and Simply Red. An extensive line-up will entertain crowds over three days, plus a host of other performances and a fringe festival will be taking place.

Much to see

With a varied line up there is much to tickle the musical taste buds. Established artist old and new will perform with the line-up, varying from James Blake and his acoustic tones on Friday, to Joe Bonamassa paying homage to the music of Eric Clapton on Sunday and all manner of musical mayhem in-between.


This year’s artist-in-residence is Lebanese-French trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf. He is regarded as one of the most stunning young jazz musicians around.
Using an invention by his father, a classical trumpeter which adds a forth valve to the trumpet, allowing Maalouf to play the quarter tone scale, essential in Arabic music, and to fuse his influences of jazz, pop and Arabic music.
As artist-in-residence, Ibrahim will play on each festival day presenting a different project with each performance.

Young Guns

It’s not just established artists and world famous stars that will be taking to the stages in July. This year will once again see an impressive list of sensational youngsters turning up in Rotterdam to display their talents.
The up-and-coming talent includes Dr. Dre’s drumming protégé Anderson Paak who caught everyone offguard with his album Malibu. In a highly varied program there is still room for many jazz musicians that are still unknown in the Netherlands, including Pixel, an experimental band from Norway, and Cuban pianist Aruan Ortiz who is playing on the back his new album Hidden Voices.

Special performances

This year the North Sea jazz festival is playing host to three historically relevant events. First Michael Mantler, the Vienna trumpeter, composer and band leader will perform the updated version of his 1968 album The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra. Re-released on the famous ECM label in 2014; the original score was adapted to accommodate a big band with a string quartet.
Then The Konrad Kosselleck Big Band with some special guests will play a concert to commemorate Boy Edgar’s 100th anniversary.
The ground breaking Dutch jazz legend worked with traditional and experimental musicians at a time when the two genres were consider incompatible; he had the prestigious ‘Boy Edgar’ prize named in his honour.
Last but by no means least, Chick Corea is having a birthday party. His 75th birthday celebration: Homage To Heroes, will see Corea honor jazz legends that have influenced him greatly such as Miles Davis, Horace Silver and Bud Powell.
In the spirit of Boy Edgar, three remarkable acts will collaborate with the acclaimed Dutch orchestra Metropole.
The artist-in-residence Ibrahim Maalouf will team up with Snarky Puppy and Kamasi Washington. The second of the three having won a Grammy with Metropole Orkest for their album Sylva.

On the fringes

As with most festival locations the fringes thrive and Rotterdam is no different in that respect. If three days of jazz, hip- hop and whatever other wonderfully experimental things you may encounter is not enough, rest assured there’s over two weeks of fringe events taking in place in build up to the festival itself. North Sea Round town will enable both young and old to indulge in all the best that Rotterdam has to offer where jazz is concerned. One hundred Rotterdam locations, both inside and out, will play host to a wide range of events including concerts, master classes, jam sessions, and after parties.

Tickets Tickets are available from Ticketmaster or through the website directly and there are a few options for the weekend. You can book for the whole weekend or if that sounds a bit hectic then maybe opt for one of the individual day tickets available. There are reduced prices for juniors, details of which as well as the full line-up for the weekend can be found on the North Sea Jazz festival website.

A full schedule will be available on the NSJF website from mid-May.