Europe Jazz Network meeting
Battista, Anki, Huub and Bo
EJN GA 2010 Istanbul Many many meetings
Smiling board of EJN - Sept 2004
Bo in Bruges
Bo, Anki and John Cumming
EJN GA 2008 Board meeting
Board (or 'bored' as Bo used to say)
It's hard to believe Don Bo is gone. The impact he and your good self have had in bringing together people from around the world has been inestimable. Sadly, I cannot raise a glass of wine as a toast to Bo, so some Perrier will have to do. I think he'd understand :)
I remember him telling me he was responsible for the title to Carla Bley's Utviklingssang....things like this are worth mentioning in discussing his varied career in music.
I'm stunned and sad! Looks like yesterday when we celebrated Bo's 60th birthday on the terrace of a restaurant in Bruges, or when we had one more drink of a wine he'd carefully chosen (he was such a connoisseur!) at Jazzahead!
Bo was a generous, knowledgeable man with a beautiful tongue in cheek kind of humor, and we will all miss him.
I'm deeply shocked. What a loss. Bo was unique, one of a kind. An "enabler" (is there a word like that?), a man with a vision (big word, I know, but true). What we all owe him is not only big thank and a toast, but that we all stay together and continue what he started. We'll miss you, Bo. And think of you. This is really a sad news. I met him at the Jazzahead last April, I couldn’t imagine that was the last time. I show my deepest and sincerest condolences to all his friends and relatives. Rest in Peace. dear friends of bo! so sad to hear what happened to bo! 61…no age to pass away…may he rest in peace…in jazz heaven…
indeed very sad. my thoughts are with him and his beloved ones. live life while you can... love to you all
Traveler Always on the road
Bo in Clusone
On this extremly sad day, I will only say: Thanx for everything to one of my best, funniest and loyal friends! Bublibub!
It´s so sad to hear about Bo. This is truly a big loss for all of us, and for the jazz community. Bo did a great job to promote jazz music in Norway and internationally, and his work to bring people together was really outstanding. Our deepest and sincerest condolences. This is sad news. Bo, and of course you, Lars, created a space where we not only shared our passion for music and our love of Norway, but where sincere, strong, warm and supportive friendships were formed.
It is testament to this that we now e-mail from so many corners of the world. I send my deep sympathy and condolences. Tonight I will raise a glass and light a candle, and in this light of friendship will think of Bo and you all. With love and peace
Bo did mention to me that he wanted to make a trip to Penang for the festival over the past couple of years but due to work commitments, he had to cancel both times. I am glad I had a chance to have a nice chat with him on the last couple of times I saw him.
I have nice memories of Bo and “Norway Jazz In A Nutshell” which I will always treasure.
With his passing, for me personally, it seems like a chapter of my life in jazz has closed but it was through him that my “book of jazz” will carry on with the rest of the “Nutshellers” based on the foundation that he has laid on making the jazz world a smaller place.
It´s so sad to hear about Bo. This is truly a big loss for all of us, and for the jazz community. Bo did a great job to promote jazz music in Norway and internationally, and his work to bring people together was really outstanding. Our deepest and sincerest condolences.
12 points bubblibub moments
I'll never be able to think of Bo as anything but 'Don Bo,' and being pretty intimidated by this serious-looking, auspicious and quiet man the first year I attended JazzNorway in a Nuthshell. But I soon came to know the stories behind the silence, and am both grateful to have met him and for his role in forgingÂ this incredible international network of like-minded people we now have. Thanks for everything Don Bo, I know you're now resting in peace now - and with a bottle of the absolutely finest wine money no longer has to buy!
We'll miss you no end gentle man from the North... May your quirky sense of humour and generosity stay with us. Remembering him fondly is the only way we have to miss him a little bit less. Filippo this is so deeply sad...even though I haven't really had the opportunity to speak with him personnally,Â his life achievement is impressive and these news unexpected. My thoughts are with you whoÂ knew him better and worked with him, and yes: let's keep his spirit alife
What terribly sad news - I had heard this on Twitter and I agree that the world will be a quieter and less interesting place without Bo.
I share the view of several Nutshellers, this is an extreme sad day. I had the privilege to collaborate with Bo and Lars for several years, first of all as representing one of the funding institutions of Nutshell, but also as en enthusiastic participant. The project has been a great success, not only for promotion of Norwegian jazz, but also for building an important global network base. I will keep up the memory of a great person and one of the most skilful jazz administrators on Norwegian side ever.
The sorrow and memories has combined us together again. It has been so touching to read the messages around the world. Bo's work and art of creating the networks is still alive.
For me it is very difficult to understand that Don Bo is not with us anymore. The candle for Bo remains of it. This evening we all can have a glass of good red wine...
Bo in La Dynamo 2007
Bo 'in the middle of EJN'
Yes, it´s really sad times. Bo was truly a great man in many ways. His importance for the jazz community, not only in Norway, cannot be exaggerated. A man full of knowledge, stories, quotes and savoire vivre. I will miss the long discussions and the often incredible stories from his past! If you tried to impress him with a story, you got two in return! It´s also very sad that he couldn´t get a closure of his turbulent last professional year...... I hope you found peace of mind now, Bo. Wherever you are. I will always remember you.
incredibly sad news...unfortunately I did not have many occasions to get to know him better. May his soul rest in peace...
It is beyond sad, so unfair, sudden and unfinished I will remember the good times together, the stories, the laughs, you reminded me to enjoy life and I will. See you at the villa... and hey we will always have Paris! I’ll be seeing you my friend
Wow, what a shock. Been off email all weekend so just got to this. All seems to have been said, really - but yes, jazz and wine tonight in memory...
So sad to hear the news - broken heart it seems. Will miss this man. Very much.
It's really sad and unbelievable news. Too sad to do anything tonight! May he rest in peace with jazz and wine.
my condolences for the passing away of Bo. I am still shocked and I can’t believe he is actually gone. I didn’t know him that well, but he was so part of the network in all kinds of ways, that he will be missed by all of us. Even by those who hadn’t had the chance to get to know him better.
Vikings Bo and Gerry
Enrico: 'Ciao Don Bo'
One of the many panels
Interviews with leaders of EJN in September 2011 in Tallinn:
Bo Grønningsæter: "Jazz is (still) the music that I like" By Marje Ingel
Bo Grønningsæter once entered the jazz world with a bang confessing things he actually did not do. Now a more adequate confession is in order while Mr. Grønningsæter is taking some time off his busy schedule to look back at his greatest achievements and some mischief during the years in European jazz community. How did you become a music lover, did you have music loving family? No, my family didn't really care much about music. But I was young in the '6os, so there was a lot of going on on the radio, during the nights you could hear all sorts of music. And then I started out playing drums myself when I was 15, more rock 'n' roll stuff with used amplifiers and lots of noise. And then on the radio one night I heard the piano player that I thought actually was missing the keys, but I thought it sounded interesting, so I went and bought a record. It was Thelonious Monk, very famous jazz piano player. And then I started listening to jazz records. But I did continue to play in rock bands for a number of years. Actually I once had a gold record for a song I wrote for the rock band. But rock 'n' roll is sort of limited, it's like you just play the same thing over and over and over again, and jazz is much more interesting to listen to because most big rock bands they play exactly the same songs the same way and now they do it for 40 or 50 years like Rolling Stones. That doesn't interest me at all. I want to hear things that are new. That even relates to jazz, I hate these bands now that sort of try to recreate what was done in the 60s or in 70s. I want new experiences, not some sort of rehash of what used to be.
EJN GA 2011 Tallinn
You come from Molde, a town known for the world famous jazz festival. What inspired you to start working in jazz field and stay related to jazz? Yes, I was born in Molde. There's the oldest jazz festival in Europe, it started in 1961. So I started working for the festival as a functionary. Then I went to Sweden to film school. And couple of my fellow students were also musicians so we sort of would sneak away and play. When I arrived in Bergen, I was elected president of the local jazz club and festival, because of some silly article I wrote in a newspaper. This article was so satirical that I thought that everyone would get I wasn't being serious. But most people thought I was completely serious. It was called â€žConfessions of a jazz loverâ€œ where you sort of confessed drug use and alcoholism and stealing records... all sorts of stuff. It was reprinted in 7 newspapers in Scandinavia and it was also on the radio. So that particular article actually started my career as jazz promoter because they knew my name in Bergen so before I knew it I was on the board and I was general manager and I was the president and I had like... all sort of functions in running the jazz club and the festival. Then from '84 to '91 I was involved with Molde festival, first as a board member and helping with the programming and from '87 to â€™91 I was the director. Then I started working for the city of Bergen, working in the cultural department. I was there for 8 years and during that time we financed the organisation that I'm running now, so when we finished the planning and the financing I applied for the job and I got it. So that's the short version of my life in jazz.
Bo with EJN members in Bari Sept 2012
About this famous article – what actually was there that made them choose you to direct things? They knew my name and they thought I was crazy, so this was some sort of „oh yeah“. When I bought a membership card for the local jazz club then the girl who filled out the card said: „oh Jesus, that's you!“. Then I was elected a board member and then later I ran the entire thing. Just because of name, nothing else? Yes, basically. A coincidence. Life is lead by coincidents not by plans. Yes, very interesting. But you told that you used to sneak away from the university to play jazz? Yeah, it was sort of... if it was jazz, I don't really know, it was... we sort of improvised for hours. Jam sessions? Yes, it was not a regular group, these were just jam sessions that went on for a long time. Then in Bergen again I played in different rock groups. And also since they needed some material, I wrote it, I ended up being songwriter as well. You do what's necessary when it's necessary. Why didn't you consider studying music instead of film if you were interested already and you were playing drums? I didn't really want to go to conservatory and be too serious about it, it was a hobby. It was nothing I wanted to do as a regular job. Most promoters make more money than musicians, so ...
But you haven't actually played in a jazz band yourself? No, I have at times jammed with jazz musicians but I'm not really a jazz musician. After I started the new organisation I discovered the Europe Jazz Network at that time based in Ravenna, where I met Mr Reiner Michalke, board member, and Giambattista Tofoni. And I remember I found the idea of international networking very interesting. When Europe Jazz Network moved out of Italy to Paris, after awhile we actually took over the running of the organisation for some years and I acted as a general secretary. So I basically ran it together with Giambattista Tofoni. And that was a ot of fun. Later being a board member became more boring. Too many meetings, too much talk. From board member to bored member (laughs) That's the way I've expressed it myself in lot of times, yes. When did you become involved in EJN? 1999-2000, so I've been involved for 10 years, and most of those years I've been a board member or general secretary or both. You have also been director or manager of Molde Jazz and Nattjazz festivals and now you're director of West Norway Jazz Center. How do you feel, is it more difficult to run a festival which is more concentrated to a certain period of a year, or is it more difficult to run an organisation like EJN or West Norway Jazz Center? Well, EJN, now there's 78 members from 24 countries and they all speak different languages and they all have different expectations, and basically the network is about meeting people and talking. And then... whatever you manage to do within the music business you may do with people you met in the day and they're not Europe Jazz Network projects as such. EJN is more like a piazza or marketplace where you go to a market place and you say hello to people you know and you start discussing things that may turn into a project. But EJN as such doesn't really instiate projects. Why do you think EJN is important for you? And also what importance or role does EJN have in European jazz community? Well, it’s a place where you meet people, where you make contact. That’s the main function of the organisation as such. Europe Jazz Network doesn’t really have projects. Now there’s this research project, I haven’t seen the results of that yet, that could be interesting. But basically it’s just facilitating for people to meet and connect and, hopefully that will result in interesting projects.
The label he loved the most
What might be these important subjects that EJN should focus on in the future? I think facilitating for more members to do projects with European Union. And maybe concentrating more on leaving space for actually members to have time to discuss more or less freely. When you think about EJN and your work in connection with EJN, can you remember some funny stories or really happy moments that you have experienced? Basically in the old days when it was run out of Italy, when I was doing things with Giambattista Tofoni and Reiner Michalke, some of us are very interested in wine, so we actually made our own. We make our own wine now in Italy, it was originally called the Europe Jazz Network wine but now it’s changed into something called The Brigate Rudi it’s a joke about the Brigate Rosse in Italy, the italian terrorist organisation. They almost killed me once in Bologna. Really? Yes, I was very close to being at the wrong place in the wrong time. So I thought I’d play a joke on them. The Brigate Rudi is owner of the guard dog of the winery, it’s a rotweiler called Rudi. His face is on every bottle and we write some texts on the back label. It is like a hobby of mine together with Battista and some other people. That’s a lot of fun. Meetings are not good fun. But we had some fantastic times together and not always during the meetings but outside of the meetings. That's much more fun than being a board (bored) member. I mean, that is not to say that I don’t respect them, I have a lot of respect for them, especially for the two people that are employed by the Europe Jazz Network that are Giambattista and Anki. So fun is connected with people. Yes. How many sorts of this wine The Brigate Rudi has? Three.
The t-shirt he loved the most (Brigate Rudi)
When you started to be involved in jazz probably everything didn’t go so smoothly and maybe you also made some mistakes that you could learn a lot from later, or there maybe were some funny stories you can remember? Hopefully you learn from your mistakes, and I do not maybe remember them over the years. None of them are particularly funny, it’s just ways of becoming more professional. I remember at one time when the Molde festival started hiring very big names and I was hanging out with the guy who started the North Sea Jazz festival, Paul Acket, he was like very big promoter. We started getting these contracts and riders that were this thick (shows) and were also asking for all sorts of stuff you knew you coudn’t get. And so I asked: „Paul, what the hell do I do with this?“ And he said: „Ah, when I get something like this I take out my big black felt-tip pen and I strike out everything I don’t like and I have not yet experienced that a concert has been cancelled.“ And that was like... it was quite fun. And was also a very good lesson, because I learned how to deal with these big agencies and big bands – you just say no. You mentioned Molde, but you have also been the director or manager of Nattjazz festival and even now when you are the director of West Norway Jazz Center, Norway's biggest jazz festivals are in your region. Thus it is probably a bit unfair question to ask, because you can't pick a favourite among them, but which one of them is the most special from your point of view? The years in Molde were quite special because I was working with this guy as producer, who was a bit crazy in a good way. His name is Rolf Bugge, he had lots of ideas and an incredible network within every artistic and other area. It turned out later I was about the only guy who could work with him. But the combination of myself and him turned into a really interesting product, and that sort of taught me something about team work. That if you put together a team don't put together a team of people who are exactly the same cause nothing will come out of it. You have to mix different personalities and different qualities. I guess I was excited because you could really work with the best musicians in the world. You really had to come up with specially formed program, you created special projects... and of course everything was over in 6 days, 110 concerts in 6 days. Could be pretty hecky. So to direct a festival is probably more fun than running a big organisation like EJN or West Norway Jazz Center? Oh yes, because you're the boss. It's always better if you are in control and you could say: OK, we do this or we do that. I mean, you discuss with people up to a certain point but when the decision comes, it's up to you, because that's your job. In the board everyone has different opinions and then maybe nothing comes out of it. And you discuss it and you discuss it and you discuss it and you discuss it, it goes on forever. It's not very productive as such.
If you compare your different jobs, projects, commitments you have been involved in, which ones have brought most satisfaction to you? When I started with the Molde festival it was almost bankrupt and the locals didnâ€™t really like the festival. So we turned the festival around and wrote into the contracts that the number of the bands had to play for free outdoors. And later they played the concerts for money. Actually we managed to sell the hell of a lot of tickets. And the city actually got involved with the festival. So in Norway we have the 17th of may which is like Independence day, when the streets are full of people with flags. Then on the monday of the festival there were more people on main street than on Independence day. Then I realised: OK, we have succeeded, we made it, we have saved the festival, we turned the entire thing around. So at first the town didnâ€™t support the festival at all? No. How did you convince them ? By putting the music out on the streets. And making things happen in the city. Not just in concert halls for strange people with long hair and sun glasses - went in there and then came out hours later. Actually people had to listen to the music because it was right there in front of them. And also we booked some very good bands that played huge outdoor concerts for free etc. So... That sort of completely turned the situation around. While you were making decisions for the festivals, how much did you allow your musical taste to dominate there? When I was running Molde festival, pretty much. Everything was up to the musical taste of myself and my producer. Then also at that time we didn't bother about the budgets. We just wanted to make a music festival. These days I can't operate like that. I have to be aware that the program we do is not especially for me, there is an audience out there that have certain interest. So you have to present a wide range of music. At the same time it has to be good. It has to be high quality. There's a number of things I would never put into the program because I find it boring or old-fashioned. It's more of a group effort now. Also when you work with other organisations you have to find compromises. Usually things can be decided fairly quickly, we don't really spend a lot of time discussing things.
You mentioned you have to take into account what audience wants to hear. How do you find out what audience wants? If you are in the business for more than 40 years you will have a certain idea of what goes and what does not go. And of course you read newspapers, you are on the internet, you talk to other promoters and they would tell you: „this band is fantastic, you should do it“ and you go listen to them. And you have opinions. We are fortunate since we have quite a lot of support from the government and norwegian authorities, we do not have to try to have a commercial program. In fact we have a lots of, in average about 3 or 4 thousand euros for every concert. That’s calculated into the budget. We are not running a commercial operation as such, we’re running more or less art organisation. We try to present serious art but in the same time there’s nothing wrong about art if the audience loves it. That’s actually an added bonus. And also in Norway we have very young audience, Bergen is the student town, so the average age I guess is about 28-29 or something. When I go to other places in Europe the audience is mid-aged or even older. We have an audience that’s open and interested in new things. We had a concert where we didn’t even put the name in the ads, just question marks. Cause four musicians were put on the stage but they didn’t know each other and the audience didn’t know who they were. And there was a good crowd, so we managed to create something that actually caught the public interest and they came without spelling out a single name. That’s a sign that the audience actually trusts you. Bergen Jazz Forum that I work with is more than 40 years old so the organisation has been there for a long time and people know they can expect quality. Do you have also some special program for youth? Cause you have so many young people. Yes, in Bergen there’s a conservatory called the Grieg Academy, they have jazz program now. So we do special concerts for the students, which is called The Gig Academy – trying to be funny there because „gig“ is the american slang for „job“ and Grieg, Edvard Grieg is the norwegian composer they named the conservatory after. And also we have the youth talent program that’s called „Looking for jazz“. Young talents will apply and then they are trained and coached by experienced musicians. And they do some concerts and there’s jury and the band that we find to be the best are offered a gig at the Bergen jazz festival, the Nattjazz festival. And also of course in „12 points“ that’s all about finding young talent all over Europe so we are involved in that very much. „12 points“ is a sort of showcase for young musicians and it was founded by Gerry Godley. I thought it was a great idea so I wanted to be part of it. We became partners in „12 points“ project and then we wrote the application to the European Union that was accepted. Now we're sort of developing the „12 points“ idea into a festival and a touring program, all for the young musicians.
When you started to be interested in jazz as a youngster, was there a particular concert or record that you heard? Yes there was one called „In a silent way“ by Miles Davis that I really found incredible. The drummer was 17 year old Tony Williams, who sort of completely reinvented the way of playing. Also on the record you had John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett. So all the best musicians of the day were on that record, and that was a complete revelation to me. While we are talking about this changing the way to look at things, can you tell about some other concerts or records that have changed your attitude towards jazz or changed the meaning of the word „jazz“ for you during your life? I've always been very wary of definitions, because a number of people say that jazz died in 1945 or some say it died in 1955, some say it was over in 1962. So it doesn't really bother me at all what you call music. One musician in Sweden once printed a button that said „Jazz is the music that I like“. That's my definition of the word. Fresh music with improvisation - that's jazz to me. Probably at first when you were still a student and didn't know that much, you probably had some more specific idea what jazz is, and it probably changed... Not really because at the same time I was also playing in rock band so I was listening to a hell of a lot of music. I don't find jazz to be particularly more serious music than a number of rock artists who are also great musicians and great songwriters. I don't really see a big distinction there.The music is just as valuable. Can you define good music? It’s the music I like. Same thing as „jazz is the music that I like?“ It’s all the same? Yes. How could you tell the difference between good or successful improvisation and unsuccessful improvisation? By listening to it. So there’s no way defining it? I’m sure there is, but I’m not that interested in that because sometimes a musician who’s not that good technically can do something very interesting and very fantastic great musician will bore you to tears.
Do you have a favourite jazz standard? Ah, do I? Have to think about it... „Coctails for two“. Why is that? I like the title. If you look back to your years in jazz community, what have been the biggest and the most important changes in jazz world that you have noticed? Hmm. Well, in Norway it has been to have the music accepted by the authorities. Because some years ago the Norwegian Jazz Association now called The Norwegian Jazz Forum had their annual convention and ... one guy said that there’s a decimal error in the national budget when it comes to money that is allocated to jazz. At that time we got about 5 milj. NOK. So we set ourselves a goal that within 10 years we will have 50. So we made it to about 25. But we started going to the parlament, knocking on the door and talking to the politicians. And actually they got to know us, so when you meet them on the street now they say hello to you. So that’s sort of changed around now, jazz is an accepted art form in Norway and gets quite good amount of support. The situation wasn’t like that 15-20 years ago, so we managed to change that around by working systematically over a period of time writing good plans, writing good applications and going to the politicians. Now I work for the city of Bergen and when people apply for money, I say: „Don’t talk to me because this is all the money there is. Go and find the politician that would speak for you and that’s interested in what you’re doing and... They will help you.“ That’s much better than speaking to a bureaucrat like me. Also we had a problem with the European Union at the beginning. They said: „We cannot support jazz, it’s an american art form“. So we had to give them a history lesson about Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli etc., so they realised that jazz had a european individual history. Things turned around and now actually they write about jazz in their publication. Did you have some role models or inspiration when you started to be involved in jazz or later even when you were managing festivals? Yes, we learned from some people. I mean I worked with George Wein who had 200 festivals worldwide. He was one of the very big people and then also Paul Acket.You learn from the best, you pick up something from them by listening to them and also arguing with them you sort of developed the way you work. They’re some thing I would even call them ideals or idols or stuff like that.
Can you elaborate what did you learn from them for instance...? How to run the festival, how to negotiate the price, how to deal with contracts, how to deal with difficult musicians. You don’t go to school for that. I mean, you can these days, but we had to learn it the hard way. And also we tried to get the experience we could from people we knew had been in the business for a long time. They were very nice, they actually would talk to you and help you. At the times you had problems with disagreeing with fees etc. Usually things turned out OK. What do you think what will happen in jazz in the near future? Who knows, there’s a problem now with funding in the number of places because of the financial crisis, so the’re cutting back in Ireland, the’re cutting back in the UK, the’re cutting back even in the Netherlands that used to be some role model for the financing of jazz, so... Fortunately we, norwegians, are the blue-eyed arabs - we’re sitting on the lot of oil and a lot money so we don’t suffer these consequences in the same way the other people do, in Ireland and the sort. But also I’m worried what will happen to a number of my colleagues. When you look back to your career as a whole: those different jobs, commitments, projects, what have been the most amazing, powerful, funny, successful experiences? It was sort of fun selling, getting a gold record for some music we thought people didn’t really like. But by then I’d quit the band, so these were just my songs that were included. When you walked through the city you could hear that music coming out of every other window, it was like very popular for awhile. That was quite... that was a lot of fun actually. And it also made me a bit of money, copyrights. Yes, of course. What kind of music was it? It was rock’n’roll. And... also being involved in projects, concerts that were very successful. Few very good projects that turned out well. Now for instance the last „12 points“ festival that was in Dublin, it was like the best ever. Musicians are getting better, they’re coming from all over Europe, you can have even four or five nationalities in the same group. There are more female musicians that are very high standard. That’s encouraging things. And also writing a European Union application in 48 hours and having it approved when lot of people say you need to put it in 7 months before. I think they’re lying, to be regarded as more serious. Sometimes when things come together and you succeed it’s a good feeling. I mean otherwise you could be working in the bank or robbing banks or whatever.
Bo Grønningsæter in memoriam Bo Grønningsæter died on Wednesday the 14th of November at the age of 61. The jazz community has lost an innovative organizer and profiled personality. He grew up in Molde and got acquainted with jazz as a teenager through the jazz festival. After graduating from Molde gymnas he went to study film in Stockholm and both English literature and history at the University in Bergen. In Bergen he got involved in the jazz club and the festival (Nattjazz) and was chairman of the board in both organizations. Instead of pursuing his academic career, he moved to Molde in the early 80ies working as an independent translator. As a chairman of the local jazz club, Storyville Jazz Club, he saved the club from bankruptcy. The club had some flourishing years under 'Bo reign'. In1987 he was employed the first full time director of the festival. In the festival administration he formed a dynamic tandem with Rolf Bugge. Bo ended his engagement with the festival in 1990. In Bo’s period as director the festival added to its profile a lot of out door concerts at the Town hall square and plenty of other activities in the main street. This changed the attitude of the locals towards the festival. Soon the whole city and its surroundings embraced the festival. After his fixed term as a director at Moldejazz he once again moved to Bergen taking up a position as head of culture in the district of Nordnes in the city of Bergen. In 1998 he began as director of Vestnorsk jazzsenter (VNJS) (a production and service centre dedicated to jazz music including the counties Rogaland, Hordaland and Sogn & Fjordane). Bo built this organization from scratch. VNJS was the first of its kind to be established and became an inspiration and partly a model for the other four jazz centres in Norway. Together with Bergen jazzforum VNJS produced 50 concerts annually mostly located to the venue Sardinen at USF Verftet. VNJS developed a regional touring circuit and helped Bergen Big Band launching an international career in addition to supporting clubs and musicians and initiating different programmes aiming to support young jazz musicians.
His main achievement was his ground breaking work on the international arena. VNJS became a member of Europe Jazz Network (EJN) in 1999. He was a member of the board and fuctioned as sectretary and treasurer in 2001 and served as General Secretary in the network from 2002 - 2007. In this period Bo together with Giambattista Tofoni put a lot of resources into the network managing the organization to get back on it's feet financially. From 2008 - 10 he was a member of the board. VNJS was a partner of the EJN initiated and EU supported project "Europe Jazz Odyssey" (2002 - 04) creating artistic exchange and cooperation, artist in residencies, seminars, workshops and recordings. Bo is one of few who can decipher the application form from EU, a skill that came in handy when he helped Gerry Godley with getting Union support for the talent launch "12 Points". In 2000 Bergen was the European capital of culture alongside nine other cities. Bo made contact with the jazz community in several of those cities in order to create an artistic exchange programme. Together with his old friend and associate, Kjell Kalleklev Bo initiated both the show case "JazzNorway in A Nutshell" and "Norwegian Jazz Launch", a three year marketing and travel support programme. Bo has developed "JazzNorway in A Nutshell" into one of the best show cases of it's kind and by that opening doors abroad to many Norwegian jazz musicians. Just as important is the 'side effect' of this programme - over the years festival and concert promoters as well as journalists has developed an informal network that has lead to exchange and cooperation on different levels. The work with international relations was closest to his heart and he had a huge network. Still Bo was not the man for diplomatic small talk. His arena was around the big dinner table with good wine and food and good friends. He could keep the whole table entertained for hours with his never ending source of anecdotes and his quirky sense of humour. He had a strong sense of justice and was a most loyal and generous friend. Rest in peace, Don Bo. Lars Mossefinn
Published on Nov 26, 2012