Think of Vienna and you might not automatically think of Herbie Hancock or Natalie Cole. Or Dave Brubeck. Or Liza Minnelli. Or John Scofield. But those are just some of the big names that have appeared at the Vienna Jazz Festival – Jazzfest Wien.
- Jazz event now approaching its 30th year
Prestigiousfestival that features both global stars and regional talent
- Often dips into other genres, too, such as soul and blues
- 2020 dates: TBA (2019 dates were Jun 24 – Jul 10)
- See also: Events in Vienna | Blues Festival
An annual event since 1991, Jazzfest Wien ranks as one of Europe’s top jazz festivals
Back in 1991, the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis arrived in Vienna, setting a precedent for top names that continues today. And the venues match the stature of the performers, with concerts typically held in the Vienna State Opera House and the old town hall (Altes Rathaus), as well as in more traditional jazz and music clubs.
(Vienna itself has a small, but vibrant, jazz scene and history. Multiple Grammy winner, Joe Zawinul, was born here, for example.)
It’s too early for the 2020 lineup, which you will eventually find online at the official festival website.
So you know what to expect, here are a few stand-out names from the 2019 event:
- Bobby McFerrin (July 8): a regular visitor to the city, he even conducted the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Schönbrunn Palace in 2004 at the very first summer night concert
- Jamie Cullam (July 9): popped into town with his latest album and a new band, too. Cullam pulls off the trick of being both an award-winning jazz musician and an award-winning jazz broadcaster (for his UK radio show)
- UB40 (June 29): I grew up with these guys (not literally), which is why it’s impossible for me to see a bottle of Merlot and not think of this:
- Gilberto Gil (July 5): former Minister of Culture in Brazil and Grammy-award winning musician. He released his latest album “OK OK OK” in 2018
- Omara Portuondo (July 7): famous for her vocal work with the Buena Vista Social Club, Vienna was a stop on her farewell tour
- Chilly Gonzales (July 6): the Grammy-award winning Canadian is perhaps best known for his Solo Piano instrumental albums and collaborations with the likes of Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame
- Jamison Ross (July 2): winner of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Drums Competition in 2012, Ross released his second album, All for One, in 2018
2020 dates and tickets
The 2019 festival just ended, so I’ve no formal dates yet for next year.
The last festival took place from Monday, June 24 to Wednesday, July 10, with tickets to the individual events available through the links provided at the festival website.
Prices will depend, of course, on the concert. If you want a flavour of the festival without buying a ticket, a couple of outdoor performances are usually free.