We have come full circle. Or rather - a pirouette for the finale.

The era of the festival, in which much has happened, is certainly coming to an end. Joining the Keychange initiative, changing the optics from American jazz to European jazz, last year's European Jazz Network Music & Community award for JazzArt's community activities. Collaborations at the local level, exhibitions, films, urban interventions, exchanges, cooperation with festivals from around the world, JazzCamp for Girls. Conditions became more and more difficult, we worked more and more and harder. As a festival, we addressed the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, trying to support artists and our audiences in both situations.

Creativity is turning the complicated into the simple, to paraphrase Charles Mingus. It is a skill, sometimes a necessity. This year on the JazzArt stage we will see the very creative (local) improvisers, outstanding Estonian instrumentalists, an extraordinary Portuguese duo representing our partners: Porta-Jazz. We will also meet artists we haven't seen in Katowice for a long time, but who have become stars of previous years. Sofia Jernberg or Mats Gustafsson performed with us as part of the Fire! Orchestra exactly five years ago. We know Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, for example, from the trio the Thing. Saxophonist Mette Rasmussen came one winter evening of 2018 to meet her colleagues from the Hearth quartet on stage in Katowice. However, we will hear not only sounds from the North, but also the Balkan avant-garde. Thanks to an exchange as part of the MOST program, artists from North Macedonia, the progressive trio Canton 6, will make their debut with us. The absolute star of the contemporary British jazz scene Alexander Hawkins will perform at JazzArt for the first time, as will, by the way, the wonderful Yumi Ito (who opens the festival at the NOSPR Chamber Hall), double bassist Mingo Rajandi, pianist Kirke Karja or the duo 293 diagonal, whose last album delighted Portuguese audiences. We take the last sentence describing their album Membrana personally: “Membrana presents a view on everyday life. It portrays the delicacy of action, memory and anticipation. It looks at non-chronological time from several perspectives and embraces it. Contamination. The membrane wishes to break (itself).”

Our annual resident Ola Rzepka will conclude her artistic "stay" at the festival with two concerts. We will see her in the duo Perforto with Lukasz Marciniak and in the duo DEAE with flutist Zosia Ilnicka and the guest participation of Mingo Rajandi, who is our resident in Katowice this year - just before all three of them travel to Tallinn for the Jazzkaar festival. Symbolically, we will serve up a strong The End at the end of the festival.

Looking ahead with curiosity, I keep my fingers crossed for the future of JazzArt. Hoping that music for explorers will be played live in Katowice on a regular basis.

Thank you for the past 8 years, Martyna van Nieuwland

Artistic director of the festival from 2016-2023