It’s that time of year when the Riviera buzzes with jazz music. Jazz was brought to the Côte d’Azur during the Second World War and the Nice Jazz Festival, an annual highlight since 1948, is historically the first jazz festival of international renown. Louis Armstrong headlined the inaugural festival alongside Stéphane Grapelli and Django Reinhardt, and many of the greatest have visited since, including Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis.
Until 2011 the festival was held in the Cimiez gardens but was moved to Place Masséna following a decline in attendance. Last year’s festival was cancelled following the tragic terrorist attack on the Promenade on 14 July. This year’s edition will take place from 17 to 21 July 2017.
Two outdoor stages, Place Masséna and the Théâtre de Verdure, each host three concerts a night. An evening’s ticket is valid for all performances and allow free movement between the stages. The more intimate Théâtre de Verdure, partly seated, is almost exclusively devoted to jazz whereas the much larger Masséna stage offers a broader range of styles including funk, soul and rock, and is an exclusively standing audience.
This year’s edition, under the theme “Passion et Lumière”, a tribute to the painter Henri Matisse who lived in Nice, includes 31 performers in an impressive line up: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, De La Soul Live Band, Herbie Hancock, the Becca Stevens Band, Woman To Woman, Roberto Fonseca ‘Abuc’, Con Brio, Laura Mvula, Ibrahim Maalouf, Samy Thiébault, Christian McBride’s New Awn, Youn Sun Nah, Sir The Baptist, Chinese Man ‘Shikantaza Live’, Mary J. Blige, The Legendary Johnny O’Neal Trio, Tony Allen Tribute to Art Blakey, Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles, Ceramic, Deluxe, IAM, Daniel Freedman, Shai Maestro Trio, The Jazz Epistles Featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya & Very Special Guest Terence Blanchard, Kadhja Bonet, Myles Sanko, Lomomali L’Aventure Malienne de -M-, Spirale Trio, Pierre Marcus Quartet, Henri Texier Sky Dancers 6, and Kamasi Washington.
Tickets are €39 per concert or €17 for children from 10 to 16 years, free for children under 10, €60 for a pass for two consecutive days, €130 for a 5-day pass. Tickets can be obtained from the festival website as well as the usual outlets including Francebillet.com, Fnac and Fnac.com, Carrefour and Carrefour.fr, Géant, Magasins U, Intermarché.
The Nice Jazz Festival also offers a series of free events with the “Jazz Off” programme, including concerts, dance, film projections and jam sessions around town. See the Jazz Festival website for the full programme.