Founded in 1978, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival is now one of the largest and most respected jazz and blues festivals in Europe. We are one of the 10 major Edinburgh festivals that gives the city its reputation as the world’s leading festival city.
We are shaped by the city with 130 concerts taking place in theatres, parks and clubs in the city centre as well as in every ward in the city.
We present a programme that spans the entire history of the music from ragtime to modern jazz to Chicago blues and beyond. Our programming is bespoke for our audiences and regularly features new commissions, new projects and exciting collaborations with creative musicians from both home and abroad.
We champion Scottish musicians. They form the beating heart of the programme, we believe in the depth and breadth of talent that exists in Scotland and believe that our homegrown Scottish artists are talents that demand to be heard.
We also help to develop young artists, supporting them through their careers as they grow and develop towards the international stage.
We embrace and celebrate internationalism, bringing some of the finest artists working in the world today to Edinburgh.
Beyond the stage we also take responsibility towards enhancing people’s lives. Our Learning & Participation programmes help break down barriers to access the arts and expose people of all ages and abilities to the transformational power of music.
How we got started
Edinburgh Jazz Festival was set up in 1978 by banjo-player and guitarist, Mike Hart. Mike's initial focus was on traditional jazz and a host of events taking place for free admission in pubs. By the mid-80's the Festival had added ticketed events, and had broadened its musical policy to encompass swing and mainstream jazz and occasionally some more modern groups.
A Princes Street parade was established, and free events in the Grassmarket and Princes Street Gardens. A blues weekend, centred on the Caledonian Brewery in Slateford, was added. The administration became professional and significant sponsorship, especially from brewery companies, helped the festival to present many major international names from the worlds of classic and swing jazz. Amongst the regular visitors were Buddy Tate, Warren Vache, The Black Eagles Jazz Band and the Hot Antic Jazz Band.
By the 1990s...
By the mid-90's the social landscape of Edinburgh had changed. Music in pubs was much reduced and the festival's artistic approach serviced a much wider audience. By now, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival presented music from most jazz styles and attracted audiences of all ages to almost exclusively ticketed events. The Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket and Jazz On A Summers Day in Princes Street Gardens remained as free events.
Fast forward to today
From the festival's beginnings, the artistic policy has been to concentrate on musical excellence and to champion spontaneous creativity and music making in Edinburgh. These virtues have been developed in the 21st Century with the production of a wide range of new music, the establishment of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra, and an on-going commitment to supporting Scottish musicians to realise creative ideas, and to link with international musicians. Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival has also grown its world outlook, presenting high quality musicians from all over the world.