Barcelona Jazz Festival
Barcelona Jazz Festival 2014
The Barcelona International Jazz Festival (often referred to as the Voll-Damm Festival Internacional De Jazz De Barcelona) is now going into its 46th year and is one of the premier European jazz festivals currently on the circuit.
Each year this epic fest attracts over 100,000 attendees who come to see over 100 concerts in 20+ venues spanning almost 45 days. Over two thirds of the people who attend come for the free concerts whilst 30,000+ dedicated fans pay for tickets to see some of the best performers from the international jazz scene.
Another thing you should also know is that the BIJF hosts a ‘pre-festival warm-up’ known as the “Barcelona Jazz Weekend“. During this weekend before the festival, a number of free concerts and performances are put on for the early birds to enjoy to get everybody in the spirit. If you can make it this year, I’d recommend going for the ‘whole’ event, including the Jazz Weekend.
Following suit with other jazz festivals (or perhaps setting the gold standard), the festival also hosts a number of special educational programmes that run alongside the event, some free, some paid.
Video Highlights of the Barcelona Jazz Fest (mixed years)
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The Barcelona Jazz Festival is now in it’s 46th year (founded in 1968), it was the first professionally organised jazz festival in Spain. During the first concert Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz and Tete Montoliu performed thanks to privatized fundraising efforts (no public money was involved at this stage).
During recent years the festival has worked in close collaboration with the Umbria Jazz Festival held in Perugia, Italy and often hosts many of the same top acts.
In 2010 the International Jazz Festival Barcelona was twinned with the Newport Jazz Festival to help boost awareness of both events.
- 2013 Festival Review by Jazz Times
- 2012 Festival Review by All About Jazz
- 2008 Festival Review by The International Review of Music
More Photos in the ‘Gallery‘ Tab below.
The 2014 Barcelona Jazz Festival lineup has been partially released and is shown below.
Check back regularly for further updates…
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|Artist||Date||Venue/Start Time||Ticket Price|
|Orquestra Jazz De Matosinhos||Sunday, 16 March 2014||Luz de Gas, 8:00 PM||€10 (+ booking fee)|
|Diana Krall||Friday, 10 October 2014||Auditori del Fòrum, 9:00 PM||€38 - €86 (+ booking fee)|
|Wayne Shorter Quartet||Tuesday, 28 October 2014||L’Auditori, 9:00 PM||€26 - €56 (+ booking fee)|
|Zakir Hussain & Masters Of Percussion||Wednesday, 29 October 2014||BARTS, 9:00 PM||€28 - €36 (+ booking fee)|
|Kurt Rosenwinkel & Orquestra Jazz De Matosinhos||Thursday, 30 October 2014||BARTS, 9:00 PM||€28 - €36 (+ booking fee)|
|Rudesh Mahanthappa Gamak||Friday, 31 October 2014||Luz de Gas, 9:00 PM||€28 - €34 (+ booking fee)|
|Chucho Valdés & the Afro-Cuban Messengers||Tuesday, 4 November 2014||L’Auditori, 9:00 PM||€25 - €56 (+ booking fee)|
|Gary Burton Quartet||Thursday, 6 November 2014||L’Auditori Sala 2, 8:30 PM||€38 (+ booking fee)|
|Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau||Saturday, 8 November 2014||Teatre-Auditori Sant Cugat, 9:00 PM||€40 (+ booking fee)|
|Paolo Conte||Tuesday, 11 November 2014||L’Auditori, 9:00 PM||€44 - €95 (+ booking fee)|
|Joe Lovano - Dave Douglas Quintet: Sound Prints||Wednesday, 12 November 2014||L’Auditori Sala 2, 8:30 PM||€38 (+ booking fee)|
|Vincent Peirani & Émile Parisien||Thursday, 20 November 2014||Institut Français, 9:00 PM||€15 (+ booking fee)|
|Joan Chamorro Quartet and Magalí Datzira, Eva Fernández and Andrea Motis||Friday, 21 November 2014||Palau de la Música Catalana, 9:00 PM||€18 - €38 (+ booking fee)|
|Cristina Pato Amb L´Orquestra SimfòNica Del VallèS||Saturday, 22 November 2014||Palau de la Música Catalana, .||TBC|
|Gianluigi Trovesi - Gianni Coscia||Thursday, 27 November 2014||Luz de Gas, 9:00 PM||€18 - €24 (+ booking fee)|
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Tickets for the 2014 Barcelona Jazz Festival are anywhere from FREE – €95.00. Shortly after the lineup is released you’ll be able to purchase tickets online.
There are over 20 official venues participating in this years Barcelona Jazz Festival. All are located within close vicinity of one another. The 7 ‘main’ venues for this years fest are the L’Auditori, Harlem Club, Palau de la Musica, Sala Luz de Gas, Teatre Arteria Parallel, Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Institut Francais.
Designed by architech Rafael Moneo, opened in 1999. 42,000 square meters. 3 separate rooms combine to give the L’Auditori giving a total max occupancy of 3,200 people. – www.auditori.cat
Probably the most well known jazz club in Barcelona. The Harlem Club is located down a small street in the center of the old town. Live music played almost every night, jazz and blues popular but you’ll also hear a lot of funk, soul, flamenco fusion, reggae and African music mixed in. 300 person capacity, low lighting, smokey and quite small with one room (and 1 bar) but a good club. www.harlemjazzclub.es
Palau de la Musica
The Palau de la Música Catalana was designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and is located in the La Ribera, a sectio of old Barcelona. The Palau de la Musica can seat around 2,200 people and is famous as being the only European auditorium that is illuminated during daylight hours solely by natural light. Inside you’ll be able to see performances through beautifully sculpted arches surrounded by stained glass. www.palaumusica.org
Sala Luz de Gas – A popular nightclub that has been set up in an old music hall theatre.
Gran Teatre del Liceu – An opera house on La Rambla, Barcelona.
If you’ve not been to Barcelona before and you like Mediterranean food then you’re in for a treat! The cuisine in Barcelona is quite different from the rest of Spain and popular dishes contain an abundance of fish, pork, legumes and vegetables. You’ll have to try the infamous Jamón serrano ham and embutidos (cold meat cuts) on your stay here. Tapas bars are sparse but good ones are around, instead locals grab plates of cheese, cured meats and pâtés if they’re after a quick meal.
For good places to eat in and around the festival period I would recommend checking out the following venues.
Restaurante Lasarte (high-end)
An exclusive top-end restaurant that offers some of the finest food in Barcelona. Headed by celebrated chef Martín Berasategui the Restaurante Lasarte is a fantastic place that should be visited if you can. Friday and weekends you’ll likely have to book a table as they have only 30 seats and the place is very popular. There are two rooms to chose from, the bright main dining room and the slightly softer 2nd dining room.
Price Range: € 63 – € 315 – www.restaurantlasarte.com
La Forquilla (mid-range)
For a less expensive dining experience with an equally balanced menu you could try La Forquilla. A small but ‘cozy’ restaurant that offers a very high level of service, seasonal dishes and a beautifully selected wine list. The ‘Tasting Menu’ is an excellent option for people who like to taste a small bit of many dishes. The restaurant is a small walk from Rambla del Poblenou and near many of Barcelona’s most popular hotels.
Price Range: € 30 – € 50 – www.laforquilla.es/en/restaurant-en/
Domino Bar (low-end)
My personal favourite of all places to eat in Barcelona. Offering homemade pizzas and lovely Argentine empanadas, a good place for a casual dining experience or for the start of a night out. Many drinks are offered behind the bar including mojito’s, cocktails, beers wines and spirits. Located in the Ravel, open late evening – early morning every day.
Price Range: € 10 – € 22 – www.dominobar.com
The closest international airport to Barcelona, Spain is the Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN). Distance from airport to Barcelona city center is 15 km, travel time is approximately 20-25 minutes by car or taxi.
Many airlines operate from Barcelona–El Prat Airport, the airlines that offer the cheapest flights around the festival period are shown below:
To get the best flight deals I would use SkyScanner‘s official search widget below.
The cheapest hotel and accommodation options I could find in and around Barcelona during the festival period (October – December) are shown below (Click HERE for a complete list).
Check out the nicest hotel in Barcelona, the Hotel DO: Plaça Reial, a fantastic boutique hotel situated in the historic quarter of Barcelona. 18 rooms all of 5-star quality, most of which overlook the Plaza real.
*** Hotel prices rise exponentially as you get closer to the festival dates. Book early to avoid disappointment. ***
If you are on a super shoe-string budget then search HostelWorld and get a bed in Barcelona for as little as €8.00 – (Private rooms €11.00+)
I would recommend checking Barcelona hotel reviews on TripAdvisor prior to placing any booking. Alternatively, why don’t you try something different and rent someones apartment during the festival period at AirBnB?! Click here for a free £15 credit towards your first booking!
Note that there is NO TENT CAMPING at the Voll-damm Festival Internacional De Jazz De Barcelona. However, if you really did want to camp, either in a tent or your RV/Motorhome, then you can check out the nearby facilities here.
Recently Festival Archive was lucky enough to interview Joan A. Cararach, artistic director of the Barcelona Jazz Festival. We asked him a few questions about this years festival, hear what he had to say below.
The Barcelona Jazz Festival is now in its 46th year year which is a brilliant achievement and one you must be proud of. Can you tell us how long you have been working with the festival and give a little history as to how you made your way into your current position?
I started at the festival in 2003, first only as a partial job. I was journalist, translator and some times university teacher. I used to write opera, classical, jazz and books reviews for a major newspaper in Barcelona. One day in 2003 Tito Ramoneda, founder and president of The Project (the company who owns the festival since 1988), approached me with the idea to collaborate with them for the festival, and I became the artistic director of the Voll-Damm Barcelona Jazz Festival. By the way, our sponsor, the great and very special beer Voll-Damm (more gastronomical than other beers in the jazz market), started their sponsorship to the festival in 2002, so we did all the way together until now.
Many people would think that planning a festival would be an ideal job but I can imagine that it must be fraught with stresses and complications. During your role within the festival what do you find to be the most challenging aspects of your job?
Stress and complications: people paying tickets. This is the most challenging aspect for everybody promoting concerts, but specially for a private festival. Keep in mind we’re the only major jazz festival in Spain completely private, with subsidies helping only around 16% of the budget. So for us is crucial to sell tickets. And we are in Spain, a country were public money has been periodically stolen (even ‘The New York Times’ has articles on it) and culture has been destroyed by politicians and people around with more interest in making money than attracting people to concerts. For instance, does it make sense to pay 80.000 euros for a “jazz legend” to play in a theatre for only 400 people paying only 12 euros? Or does it make sense to pay 20.000 euros for another “jazz legend” to play in a club festival for only 250 people paying 40 euros? I hope your answer is like mine, NO! But unfortunately, this is true in Spain. And last but not least, we’re paying since 2012 one of the most highers VATs in Europe, a 21%, plus the money we must pay to the Spanish Authors Society (around 9-10% depending on the venue). That means that for each 10 euros of a ticket, we lose 3 from the beginning. Results of this? We are in a country were people is not accostumed to pay the real value of things in culture (except for pop music and some classical promoters).See rest of interview...
The lineup for the Barcelona Jazz Festival has not yet been officially released, are you able to give us any clues or hints as to who we might be able to expect in 2014?
Not yet, unfortunately, but expect for a lot of Cuban music, a trademark of our festival, this year also in close association with Chucho Valdés, one of the most amazing musicians right now in all genres.
It’s always been a great mystery to me as to how the festival handles act selection. Are there specific criteria that artists have to meet? Are acts selected purely on talent and performance alone or do your gut instincts and emotions come into play when making decisions? Also, who has the final say as to who performs (if there is just one artistic visionary?!)?
I work in a private company. We’re 17 people working all year around in around 400 concerts and many festivals. We’ve around 100 or more people temporally working for us helping to do concerts. So this people are really my first concern. Keep them busy and paid. More than that, no specific criteria, in fact: music we love, music we can present in the best conditions for the artists (we use great venues) and for our public. Jazz from all sides, but also non jazz music that we think it can be interesting for the festival for financial or artistic reasons. For instance, this year I hope to present a piano recital of Cuban piano classical music and also Louis Moureau Gottschalk’s music. We’re open to everything. We’re the essence of being Mediterranian. We’re bilingual. We speak two languages. We are Catalan and Spanish (well, not everybody in Catalonia feels Spanish, to tell you the truth). We don’t care about so called “purists” or not open minds, plus my festival model is very easy: one venue, one band. If you don’t like a concert, I know there will be something for you in our roster in another place or day. Mostly all artists are my choices, but of course I’m open to all the people working for me and also to the realities of our market.
Over the years the festival has grown from strength to strength and has now established itself as one of the great events in the international jazz festival circuit; what do you think has been the key to the festivals continued success and what are some of the major difficulties your team are faced with each year?
The people from Barcelona or living in Barcelona. They are paying perhaps the most expensive tickets in Spain for the reasons I’ve already described. Since the beginning, in 1966, when the dictator Francisco Franco was well and alive and freedom was banned in Spain, the festival has been almost always private and paid by box office. We’re really proud of our clients. They have been really important in the development of the festival in the last years. In 2002, the festival had 13 concerts. Last year, we did 96 concerts.
Can you tell us a little about your favourite moments of the past 2013 Barcelona Jazz Festival?
No doubt: ‘Rumba para Bebo’, the show Chucho Valdés and I decided to produce together to honorate the late Bebo Valdés (Chucho’s father, of course) and his desire: don’t weep for me the day I die, I just want you to drink rum, eat chocolate and listen to my music to dance, and dance. And we did it! We put almost 50 Cubans on stage, from all ages, we played Bebo’s music, but also classical music and folk-santería music to invocate his spirit. We (both the festival and myself personally) have been really blessed to share so many years of our lives with Bebo. He played my first ever produced concert in 2003, and he was my mentor, my friend. Both Chucho and I feel we did exactly what he asked for: a great party to celebrate his live and his depart to another side.
Are there any programmes/clinics, educational or otherwise, that run alongside the Barcelona Jazz Festival? If people wished to participate in any of them what is the best way for them to find out some more information?
Yes, and this is very important for us. We started in 2003 to program master classes and workshops, and since last year, thanks to a grant from the Fundació de Música Ferrer-Salat, we’ve now the possibility to do a kind of parallel festival only with master classes. Free for any student of music of any school of the world, of for any person holding a ticket of the festival. We have had in our masters people (to name only a few of a very long and impressive list) like Melissa Aldana, Richard Bona, Chick Corea, Peter Erskine, Zakir Hussain, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Maria Schneider, Wadada Leo Smith, Omar Sosa, Chucho and Bebo Valdés, etc. Our web has all the information and I insist: master classes are free. We had last year, for instance, almost 3.300 students coming to our educational program.
The festival has now been around for a long time and some would say that the past couple of years has been the festivals’ best years, how do you strive to make each year better than the last and where do you see the festival in 10 years?
It’s not about me. Is about the artists, is about the public. With all due respect, we’re not an European provincial festival, we’re not a festival supported by a city/region trying to get people to visit or discover them. Barcelona is a very special city. People here works really hard and pays a lot of money for everything (houses, public transportation, etc.), so if they are going to a concert don’t want the usual “summer relax concerts” you can see in so many festivals –in very awful venues, by the way. So the artists know they can’t cheat here. Sets are long, not double or triple bills. People is not walking around during the concert. They are very focused on what’s happening on stage. So the tension is really special. I don’t say that. I’m just repeating what the great Tete Montoliu (one of my first friends in jazz) told me about Barcelona (a thing that is not always good!) and some other musicians keep saying me year after year, concert after concert. Right now I’m not surprised when somebody tells me: “It has been the best concert of our tour.” My merit is just to put together the best conditions for everybody. The rest is on the artists and on the public. We are just a little (but enthusiastic) dot in the middle.
Organising a festival of this calibre takes incredible skill, team-work, coordination and dedication. Outside of your direct festival planning team (who seem to do an outstanding job by the way!) is there any person or groups of people you would like to especially thank for their help in making the festival a success?
Again, our clients. I like to talk with them (some of them can be also very harsh!). For instance, once I got a complaint about the free seating in our club/theatre venue, the beatiful Luz de Gas. A client was complaining to me about not having guaranteed a seat in a sold-out concert. Next year, we decided to sell “premium tickets” for Luz de Gas, with seats included on the first rows. A great success thanks to a suggestion/complaint of one client!
Many people say that it’s the festivals diverse range of jazz styles and the introduction of other similar music genres that has led to the success of the festival. How do you manage to walk the fine line between keeping both the jazz purists happy with the programme lineup and audiences with lets say a more ‘general’ taste in music?
So-called “purists” will be never happy. What a shame for them. I can enjoy Sonny Rollins, Fanfare Ciocarlia and klezmer music, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Chucho Valdés, Maria Schneider, Osvaldo Golijov, the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, Bach’s cantatas, Bruckner’s symphonies, Mozart and Wagner’s operas, Paco de Lucía and all flamenco at the same time (and I’m leaving out the 99% of the music I love). So there is no line.
What is the biggest marketing challenge you face when trying to spread the word about the festival? Are there any particular avenues or strategies you have focussed on that have led to noticably good results?
The best marketing tool is the fidelity of our public. I have clients who bought tickets to see the first concert of the Barcelona Jazz Festival in 1966, the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The best marketing is to have great artists playing in nice venues with nice sound and light. Artists and audiences are very well treated in our concerts. They desserve a lot of respect. They make the festival what it is right now.
For people wishing to help out at the festival this year round can you please tell them a little about any volunteer opportunities you offer or other ways they can help?
Our structure is professional, so we don’t use the volunteer card except for very small jobs. We talk with some music schools to provide us students to help us in concerts they want to see for free.
What would be your best advice for somebody visiting the festival for the very first time?
Enjoy Barcelona! Walk around, try to say something in Catalan and also in Spanish! Visit our restaurants (many and many special places here)! Discover Catalan wines! Try to rest a little before coming to the concerts at night and remember: you can have dinner after the concerts, around midnight, some times even in a terrace (it’s November, but you are in Barcelona). Yes, not very healthy, but make an exception!
Can you give an estimate for your predicted turnout/attendance rate for the 2014 Barcelona Jazz Festival?
In 2013, we sold around 33.000 tickets and had 102.000 attendants thanks to our free activities, so we hope to keep the numbers or at least the percentage of ticket sales, around 85%.
And finally, who are your personal all-time favourite jazz performers?
Johann-Sebastian Bach. Too difficult for me to say names here, so I prefer to mention only the God of music…
We would like to make a special thanks to Joan and his team for taking the time out of their busy schedule to answer these questions. We wish you all the best with this upcoming festival.
If you’re coming to Barcelona especially for the jazz fest then why not take a couple of extra days to enjoy some of the other highlights that this beautiful city has to offer. A couple of hand-picked gems that might help give you some ideas:
Ever wondered what it’s like to fly a real commercial airliner? Well at Aeroteca you can fly in a real, full-scale flight simulator and have instruction by ex-pilots or simply play around by yourself on a single pilot experience.
CosmoCaixa Barcelona (Science Museum)
Go check out some awesome exhibitions on various science, nature, space and environmental topics at the CosmoCaixa Barcelona. Built especially to be stimulating for children but even as an ‘educated’ adult you’re going to learn quite a lot here! A perfect place to come to spend a few hours with the family and to get outside of the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is one of the most beautiful Roman Catholic church in the world. It was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Now officially recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site even dispite of it being still in construction. You can easily identify the input of Gaudí throughout the design.
Paul Goldberger called it, “The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.”
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