They’re not making it easy to visit the Nice Jazz Festival this year. Gerard Druot Productions is the organizer of the festival, possibly for the last time. Official figures are not yet in but the festival does not appear to be a resounding success. One reason for the sparse crowds we witnessed last night might be due to GDP’s cavalier and inexplicable failure to explain the most basic question: how do you get there? The Nice Jazz Festival website blithely notes two out of several public buses to the site without bothering to mention that they stop running hours before the festival’s closing notes sound around midnight. The existence of the usual free shuttle from Place Massena to the festival is apparently a closely guarded secret. The chosen few that somehow found out about it were undoubtedly pleased to avoid the daunting prospect of finding a parking space around the festival.
In fact it was a lot easier than we thought to find parking since attendance was obviously far below previous years. Part of the problem is undoubtedly the weak economy but that can’t be the entire explanation. After all, U2 sold out last week even with a bottom ticket price of €87.50. Compared to that, €29 is a bargain especially since it included five acts–Lisa Ekdahl, McCoy Tyner, Jake Shimabukuro, Carla Bley and James Taylor–that are fairly well-known.
Jazz is less of a draw than rock; there’s no news there. Also the Arenes de Cimiez was closed for renovation. Making music within an open-air theatre of ancient Roman stones seemed to have inspired the long list of jazz greats that played in the Arenes. The improvised Matisse theatre just didn’t cut it as an alternative, especially since the sets were so short. McCoy Tyner and his trio with Bill Frisell were just getting warmed up when it was time to wrap up after an hour.
All the artists gave it their best, especially a vibrant James Taylor at the end, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the rumors come true and the festival heads to the Jardins Albert 1 in central Nice next year.