Last week the sound of music could be heard in Massena Square till late at night. Nice was hosting the famous Jazz Festival. Even if some residents of the French Riviera consider the Juan-les-Pins festival to be the main jazz event, the Nice Jazz Festival is just as big.
The first Jazz Festival in Nice
The capital of the Côte d’Azur actually hosted the world’s very first Jazz Festival in 1948. It was in February right after the carnival when Nice welcomed the performers, who shared their catchy music that made people want to dance as though nobody else was around. The legendary Louis Armstrong and jazz violinist Stefan Grappelli, performed at this premiere on the Nice Opera and City Casino stage, that used to be part of Massena Square. The Negresco Hotel hosted the closing ceremony, where guests could enjoy the voices of Susie Delair and Yves Montand. This event was truly a turning point for jazz in France; jazz performers won a considerable French audience. Sadly, after its big premiere, the festival only returned to Nice 23 years later.
Jazz Festival today
Nowadays the Jazz Festival is still held in Massena Square, but in the open air. Musicians perform on two stages located in the Albert I garden. The audience is very mixed; from true jazz fans that rush to grab front row seats, to tourists and locals who enjoy the music chilled out sat on the grass. The repertoire is just as diverse. A British singer Laura Mvula creates a lively vibe with her original songs – a merge of jazz, soul, electro and rock. At the same time, on the other stage, you will be transported back to the 60’s, an era when jazzmen like Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard made America ecstatic through their frenzied music.
By 11 p.m. the area surrounding the Massena stage is packed. In anticipation of the evening’s main musical event, some sit right on the ground, while others search for the best places, closer to the action. In a few moments Ibrahim Maalouf, a trumpet virtuoso, would make the whole square sing along thanks to his incredibly powerful energy! Ibrahim is a French musician of Lebanese origin and a one-man orchestra. He plays both the trumpet and piano, skilfully intertwining Arabian motifs with jazz music.
The Nice Jazz Festival only run until July 21st, which was just enough time to experience the unique atmosphere of this musical event.
Don’t miss this unique huge music event in Nice next year and it’s better to book it in advance to meet stars of world jazz.