30 October - 5 November 2015 #781

Fuel up on jazz

In November, Nepal’s Himalayan sky will once again come alive with the sound of jazz as Jazzmandu celebrates its 13th year
Madeline Zutt

From 4-10 November Nepal’s Himalayan sky will once again come alive with the sound of jazz as the Surya Nepal Kathmandu International Festival, popularly known as Jazzmandu, celebrates its 13th year. The widely anticipated annual event will provide Nepalis with a melodic and rhythmic escape from the country’s ongoing blockade crisis.

Aside from being one of the leading music festivals in South Asia, Jazzmandu has established Nepal as a key player in the international jazz scene. Each year, the highly sought-after festival brings musicians from all corners of the world to Kathmandu, where the artists celebrate their musical diversities while simultaneously showcasing their camaraderie through music.

Created in 2002 by Navin Chettri, the lead vocalist and drummer of Nepal’s first jazz band Cadenza Collective , Jazzmandu has successfully introduced jazz to Nepal and has over the years refined the country’s local music scene by bringing world class musicians to Kathmandu audiences.

This year’s festival line up includes performers from Norway, the USA, France, Cuba and Argentina that will join local Nepali talent on different stages at various venues around the city. Each year Jazzmandu presents Jazz for the Next Generation, a music competition that promotes music education and gives young musicians a chance to demonstrate their talents in front of international musicians. This year’s edition will continue this tradition and will also feature a free concert for young school children to expose them to jazz from around the world.

“We want to have the festival this year, more than ever.”

Nepali Times spoke to the festival’s director, Navin Chettri, about his expectations for this year’s festival.

Nepali Times: How will the country’s current fuel crisis affect this year’s festival?

Navin Chhetri: This is an interesting year for us. Despite the current crisis the country is facing, we want to have the festival, more than ever. We want to show that Nepalis are strong and ready to bounce back. It is also our way of getting more people to visit Nepal. We hope that we can make do with the shortcomings we are facing right now given the country’s current situation.

How is this year’s Jazzmandu going to be different?

We try to get different artists each year to attract a mix of people from all walks of life. We want to attract Nepalis as well as foreigners. This year we are collaborating with Photo Kathmandu to bring different aspects of visual art to the music festival. We are also trying to get school students more involved with jazz by offering a free concert to young kids so they can enjoy and experience jazz.

In addition, we have started the Jazzmandu Education Initiative where students meet every week at my studio, The Music Room, for an intensive course in music. Through this initiative, students who are dedicated to study music are given the chance to come together to learn and perform in different ensembles. Some of these student-teacher ensembles will be featured either at the Jazz Bazaar or the school concert on 5th November.

“It's my first visit to Asia, so I'm really looking forward to seeing Kathmandu and also playing for a completely new audience. My expectations are, of course, to have a nice and interesting time, discover and experience a completely different world, country, society  and to meet new people (audience and other musicians). I'm also excited to see how my music will be received.”

-Kjetil Husebø

“The experience I have had so far conversing with Nepali people has been extremely heart-warming and welcoming. Kathmandu has definitely been on my list of places to visit, and it makes me truly happy that I will get to discover and explore this magnificent part of the world through music and art. I look forward to building global music connections in a city of such rich cultural heritage. Based on what I have read so far about Jazzmandu, it seems like it’s more than a festival, but a spiritual institution that encourages global music connection, interaction, growth and prosperity.”

-Magda Giannikou


Read Also:

Jazz comes home

Swinging without borders, Stéphane Huët

Oozing talent at Jazz for the Next Generation, Stéphane Huët

Marching to a different tune, Stéphane Huët