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Is it jazz or isn't it?

Pianist Ahmad Jamal is one of the stars at "Jazz No Jazz".

(Keystone)

Montreux is not the only location in Switzerland where jazz festivals take place. Switzerland's biggest city, Zurich, has a jazz celebration of its own known as the "Jazz No Jazz" festival.

The title of the festival gives some clue as to its purpose, which is foremost to entertain but also to challenge people's conceptions of what jazz music is really about.

Started back in 1951, the festival was nearly forced to close when it lost the support of the Zurich city council seven years ago. It was saved in the nick of time by the Zurich-based "Tages Anzeiger" newspaper, which now runs the event.

Ralph Hermann, marketing director of Tages Anzeiger told swissinfo: "Before we took over the festival it attracted jazz insiders. We intended to reverse that, making it a more European and younger festival.

"The concept is quite clear: the festival is a mixture of good jazz and groovy dance music. No one knows exactly what jazz music is, so we try to pose that question through the music we offer."

"Jazz No Jazz" takes place at the Gesnerallee arts centre from October 25 till October 29, and will be featuring such jazz notaries such as Ronny Jordan and Ahmad Jamal. Less well known groups will also be taking part, including Germany's Mardi Gras BB and Austria's Vienna Art Orchestra.

"Jazz No Jazz" has successfully attracted a younger audience over the past few years, with the mixture of sounds on offer also offering an interesting variety of music for those jazz insiders.

by Tom O'Brien


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