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In Molde, they have their own word for going out on the town during the Molde Jazz festival: to jazz. Ever since the first Molde Jazz Festival in 1961, the festival has turned the town of jazz, roses and football upside down.

Everyone living in Molde, or who once lived in Molde, or who knows someone who lives in Molde, or is a friend of someone who has a grandmother in Molde, comes to the town in week 29 to experience the vibe – where being laidback is in perfect symbiosis with high intensity.

Jazz shirts are taken out of the wardrobe – the older the better. Anyone wearing a jazz shirt from the ‘80's with the front emblazoned with the face of Miles Davis gets extra respect. Anyone who wore their Miles David shirt to paint the house in the ‘90s will eat their heart out.

You’ll meet street vendors, street food vendors and barefoot potters in the high street. Molde’s sea air has to compete with exotic fragrances, mature French cheeses, fresh bubbling hops and elk burgers. Burgers made with ingredients from the deepest forests can be savoured accompanied by the sounds of a fiery accordion or a sentimental old saxophone.

Talent Arena

New sounds can be heard in Alexandra Park where young jazz talents hit the stage. Some are performing here for the very first time, while others may have appeared last year too. The compère Anitra holds everything together as always, so even though the performers on the stage are new, some things remain the same. The mayor reads out the same speech as last year with a few new updates. The commitment and enthusiasm for the festival and the town never diminishes.

Clapping and stomping

Molde Jazz Festival has laid the groundwork for a range of experiences that permeate the whole town. National and international artists have gone on stage and been given an encore again and again. Molde audiences really know how to show their appreciation for visiting artists. After all, they have been invited and the people of Molde are tremendous hosts. The role of host sometimes lasts longer than the actual festival.

Every morning the street parade heads through Storgata high street. The Jazzlogen band, comprising young musicians from near and far, transforms Molde into something out of New Orleans.

Driving Miles

The jazz trumpeter Miles Davis (1926-1991) played on stage in Molde on several occasions and connected well with people both on and off the stage. During the festival, his driver in Molde – the volunteer Svein Åge Johansen – formed a good relationship with him.

During his first ride in the car, Miles asked the driver:

‘Do you know who I am?’


‘Do you like my music?’


Despite that, or perhaps because of it, Svein Åge Johansen was hired by Miles for other driving duties elsewhere in Europe. The story of Miles and Svein was made into a theatre play: Driving Miles.

The band Lucky Chops got a bit carried away with Molde’s nature and places to swim, so they arrived on stage dripping wet and delivered an energetic performance.

Unique surroundings

During the festival, audiences can enjoy everything from intimate concerts in small venues to fairly large outdoor concerts.

Both the public and performers enter their own little world when visiting the festival. Former festival manager Hans-Olav Solli says there have been many amusing incidents over the years.

'The festival’s slogan used to be "where music meets nature.” Nature inspires various activities making it easy to forget what time it is. In 2018, the band members of Lucky Chops were taken out on the islets just outside the city centre where they got to enjoy swimming from a boat. This led to them almost being too late for the opening ceremony and they came running, dripping wet, from the quay and just ran towards the stage. I was a bit on the alert and asked:

"What are you doing here?”

"We’re the band!," replied the soaking wet band members. I just let them up on stage – and they gave a good performance. They enjoyed Molde so much that they wondered if they could stay a whole week next time,’ Solli laughs.

Molde Jazz Festival kicks off again on Monday, week 29. For the 63rd time. Making memories at this gift of a festival is something to really look forward to.

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