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Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2011

A Vast and Remarkable Jazz Buffet in Denmark

Sonny Rollins at Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2011

The richness of Denmark’s jazz tradition is beyond question. The country whose love of the music once embodied resistance to the Nazis and later offered a comfortable home to American exiles such as Stan Getz, Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon continues to breed formidable new talents and ideas nearly nine decades after its first homegrown artists appeared. But knowing this doesn’t prepare one for the mammoth scope of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Its sheer size-the most lightly programmed of its 10 days (of which this writer saw the final five) featured 76 performances-is overwhelming by itself, even without considering its stylistic and international breadth.

Though the festival’s headliners-Sonny Rollins, Bobby McFerrin, the Keith Jarrett Trio-were all American, the artists from jazz’s homeland were otherwise spread fairly thin. A few more had their own high-profile concerts, notably the Charles Lloyd Quartet and the Terence Blanchard Quintet at the famous Copenhagen Jazzhouse and a Brad Mehldau/Joshua Redman duo at the Skuespilhuset. Most of the Stateside artists, though, were to be found as featured players with Danish leaders or ensembles. This writer’s first concert was the Rasmus Ehlers Trio at JazzCup, a small record store near the Queen’s summer palace, with saxophonists George Garzone and Frank Tiberi guesting. (Another American, Adam Nussbaum, also sat in on drums for one tune.)

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