Edinburgh Jazz- and Blues Festival promotes projects within the world of jazz. The artistic policy is to concentrate on musical excellence (rather than the "star system") and to champion spontaneous creativity: music making on the spot in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Jazz Festival was established in 1978 by banjo-player and guitarist, Mike Hart. Hart's initial focus was on traditional jazz and free events taking place 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 and free events in the Grassmarket and Princes Street Gardens were established. A blues weekend centred at the Caledonian Brewery in Slateford was added. The administration became professional and significant sponsors, especially from brewery companies, helped the Festival present many major international names over the years.
By the mid-90s 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 and 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.
Today the festival is managed by a Board of Directors, chaired currently by Councillor Jason Rust. Fiona Alexander and Roger Spence are employed as Producers.
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (EJBF) is Scotland’s flagship jazz and blues event, presenting 150 concerts over a 10-day period each July, and attracting an audience of just under 70,000 people annually. EJBF also promotes Edinburgh’s Festival Carnival, a multi-cultural event including large-scale parades through the centre of Edinburgh. In addition to the summer Festival, EJBF has a year round community and education programme, and promotes smaller scale Festivals and events in Edinburgh throughout the year. In the field of education, EJBF operates the Edinburgh Jazz School and the Blues Academy, as well as promoting a Summer Jazz School during the Festival period.
EJBF aims to foster a love of music and inspire people of all backgrounds and ages to explore new ideas and expand their horizons. The festival´s participation programmes enable participants to develop skills in music as well as developing key social and emotional capabilities that are attributed to music-making, such as confidence and
EJBF has an on-going commitment to supporting Scottish musicians to realise their creative ideas, and to link them with international musicians. Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival has expanded its global outlook, presenting high quality musicians from all over the world.
EJBF is renowned for achieving the best audience numbers for musicians’ performances in Scotland, which enables them to support projects that are more ambitious, invest in extensive marketing and promotional tools, and commit to nurturing the careers of younger musicians. The Edinburgh Jazz- and Blues Festival have years of experience in discussing creative projects with musicians, and deciding on programmes that will challenge them artistically, whilst ensuring a strong engagement with audiences.