Jazz echoes across Lucerne

Willisau Jazz Festival 2000 poster. Jazz Festival Willisau / Niklaus Troxler

The 26th Willisau jazz festival gets underway on Thursday, with musicians from all over the world bringing their local sounds to the canton of Lucerne.

This content was published on August 30, 2000 - 11:47

The Brazilian percussionist, Cyro Baptista, will open the festival with an eclectic ensemble of sounds from Brazil, Africa, Indonesia and America, entitled "Beat the Donkey".

There's an upbeat mood this year in Willisau, not least because the festival's future has been assured by the recruitment of new sponsors. Last year the main financial backer, the Swiss bank, UBS, withdrew its support, prompting a frantic round of sponsor searching.

It was a tough time for organiser and founder, Niklaus Troxler, but he managed to woo two new sponsors - the "People's Art Foundation" and the department store chain, EPA.

Willisau is touted as Switzerland's most important jazz festival, and attracts some of the jazz world's biggest names.

The highlight of this year's show is the 67-year-old pianist, Cecil Taylor, who is regarded as the century's most avant-garde jazz keyboard musician. He describes the piano as a "drum with 88 skins", and last performed in Willisau in 1983.

This year, Troxler has assembled a line-up that could, with justice, be described as a comprehensive ensemble of jazz styles. One of the most versatile performers is the Tunisian singer, Dhafer Youssef, who has perfected styles from all over the world, including places like Hungary and Vietnam.

The festival is structured so that different styles of jazz are performed each evening. The opening concert on Thursday features sounds from "Brazil, Africa and the World"; Friday is devoted to "Hip and Funk"; Saturday to "Folk Roots" and "Acoustics", and Sunday to "Great Black Music" and "Great Trio Music".

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