Jazz Interviews

Tips and advice from around the world of jazz

Interviewing the industry

Over the last 3 years I’ve interviewed people from all areas of the jazz industry to get their insight and advice on how you – a gigging jazz musician – can grow your career faster and more effectively.

I’m happy to share my advice and experiences from 10+ years as a jazz booking agent & manager with you, but I’m a firm believer that when it comes to something as important as your career, we should all try to get as many different points of view as possible.

So, I’ve put together this ever-expanding series of jazz interviews and written specific questions for each person – based on their work and experiences – to try to dig out their most useful tips. As always, the goal is to help you:

  • Get more gigs
  • Release your music successfully
  • Promote your project as well as possible

Who’s involved from the jazz industry?

I’m regularly adding new interviews here, but I’ve already persuaded some great guests from the jazz industry to take part.

1) The Jazz Press

On the press side, there are Q&A sessions with the editors of both Jazziz in America and Jazzwise magazine in the UK.

The various journalists featured have written for a whole range of jazz publications, including AllAboutJazz, The Arts Desk, London Jazz, Jazz Journal and many more.

2) Gig Promoters

A BIG focus of this site is on how to actually get more jazz gigs. So, there are plenty of promoters from all around the world in this interview series.

In fact, a while back, I did a survey with more than 40 international jazz promoters who gave some great insight into what they’re looking for when booking bands.

This, along with interviews with bookers for the likes of Cheltenham Jazz Festival in the UK, Jazzkaar in Estonia and Jazz Fest Brno in the Czech Republic provide actionable advice on topics like:

  • How to better pitch for gigs by email
  • What promoters are looking for (aside from great music!)
  • How & why to grow your personal network
  • The promo tools you need to have

3) Booking Agents

I’ve also spoken to a bunch of booking agents who work specifically with jazz musicians. They talk about the things they look for in new signings, as well as how they approach getting through to promoters and actually confirming shows.

In particular, Dutch agents from the Good Music Company discuss their role in developing artists like Snarky Puppy & trumpeter Avishai Cohen and Danish agent Kat Jarby talks about booking avant-garde & contemporary jazz.

If you’re focused on booking gigs for yourself, really figuring out what people are looking for – aside from killer music, of course – can give you a big advantage… and I hope some of these agency perspectives will help you do that!

4) Other musicians

The most-read interview on this site is actually with a musician: the great Kurt Rosenwinkel. He talks about his journey from music student through to international touring, a major record deal and then launching his own label.

I’ve featured pieces from a few other musicians along the way too, who had some very specific advice to give:

I hope some of the things these musicians – and others like them – share, will give you some extra insight and motivation for your own project!

A few highlights from the jazz interviews

You’ll find all of the interviews available below, but if you want a quick overview (or something to check out later) you can download a free copy of my ‘key interview takeaways’ PDF by clicking here.

Here are a couple of quotes I pulled out to get you started…

“There are not anywhere near enough press outlets covering jazz to make it without doing your own outreach directly to fans” – Philip Freeman (USA), jazz journalist & digital marketing expert

“To get international recognition I think it’s important to, beyond obviously presenting great music, invest your time and effort into establishing a following outside of your country” Ernesto Cervini (Canada), jazz publicist & drummer

[on pitching for gigs] “The best thing is having a live video so I can check what the band is going to look like on stage” – Jakub Zitko, booker of Jazz Dock in Prague

[on breaking into a new scene] “Get in with some well-connected local players… Once you have raised your profile by association, you will likely have the contacts and the opportunity to gig in your own name” – Peter Bacon (UK), writer/editor for London Jazz News

Interview with Øyvind Skjerven Larsen of Oslo Jazz Festival

Interview with Øyvind Skjerven Larsen of Oslo Jazz Festival

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Interview with Pianist, Composer & Arranger Shai Maestro

Interview with Pianist, Composer & Arranger Shai Maestro

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Q&A with the booking agent Jakob Flarer of Saudades Tourneen

Q&A with the booking agent Jakob Flarer of Saudades Tourneen

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jazzahead! 2021 (Interview with Sybille Kornitschky)

jazzahead! 2021 (Interview with Sybille Kornitschky)

If, like us, you were preparing for Jazzahead! last year, we know how disappointing it was to hear it was being postponed to 2021.  As one concert after another was cancelled with the onset of the pandemic, we waited anxiously for the inevitable news from jazzahead!...

Interview with Patrik Lindgren of the Swedish Lira Magazine

Interview with Patrik Lindgren of the Swedish Lira Magazine

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Interview with Krzysztof Komorek of Donos Kulturalny

Interview with Krzysztof Komorek of Donos Kulturalny

If you want to discover more about the thriving Polish jazz scene, Donos Kulturalny, by jazz journalist Krzysztof Komorek, is a great place to start! Krzysztof joined us for a short interview to share his long and varied experience in covering this music. He is not...

Interview with Tina Heine of Jazz & The City

Interview with Tina Heine of Jazz & The City

Today's interview guest is Tina Heine who, after founding and running the Elbjazz festival in Hamburg for many years, now runs the Jazz & The City Festival in Salzburg, Austria.  It's certainly not a conventional festival - with 'blind date' concerts, unusual gig...

Dave Liebman – Interview with a Jazz Sax Master

Dave Liebman – Interview with a Jazz Sax Master

For today's interview we're joined by a real jazz legend with a career in contemporary music which stretches back nearly 50 years. NEA Master Dave Liebman emerged in the 70s performing saxophone (and sometimes flute) with artists including Miles Davis, Elvin Jones...

Jazz Special (Danish Magazine) | Interview with Editor Cim Meyer

Jazz Special (Danish Magazine) | Interview with Editor Cim Meyer

If you're looking to get your new music to the widest possible audience - as well as use it to get gig bookings later - press coverage is a very important focus. In order to run our own press outreach campaigns better, as well as advise musicians who go down the DIY...

Interview with Don Lucoff of DL Media

Interview with Don Lucoff of DL Media

For today's interview we welcome Don Lucoff, a jazz music industry veteran who's worked with some of the biggest artists and labels in a career spanning more than 30 years.  Don Lucoff is the founder and president of the American PR agency DL Media Music. Since the...

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Interview with music lawyer Robert Horsfall of Sound Advice

Interview with music lawyer Robert Horsfall of Sound Advice

I don't know about you, but there was a time when I assumed you only needed a lawyer if you were in some sort of trouble. I certainly didn't consider one being particularly necessary or viable in the independent jazz world. But in fact, as I've learnt through various...

Focusyear, ECM & Jazz Greats 10 Questions with Wolfgang Muthspiel

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©Laura Pleifer Over the last 3 decades, award-winning and critically acclaimed guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel has toured and recorded with many of the worlds jazz greats; the most recent of which features Brad Mehldau, Ambrose Akinmusire, Larry Grenadier & Eric...

Chatting to Nick Lewis of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Chatting to Nick Lewis of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

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Interview with Mike Flynn of Jazzwise Magazine

Interview with Mike Flynn of Jazzwise Magazine

As the UK's biggest selling jazz monthly, the award-winning Jazzwise magazine covers everything from the cutting edge of contemporary jazz, mainstream, fusion and free-jazz to jazz electronica and world music. And with features such as 'Taking Off...' they play a big...

London Jazz & Beyond (Q&A with writer/editor Peter Bacon)

London Jazz & Beyond (Q&A with writer/editor Peter Bacon)

Peter Bacon is editor-at-large of London Jazz News - recently described as the most in-depth local jazz coverage on the planet - and has been writing about jazz for 40 years. He's written about albums and concerts from various positions, including as a full-time...

Q&A with Merli Antsmaa from the Jazzkaar Festival in Estonia

Q&A with Merli Antsmaa from the Jazzkaar Festival in Estonia

Jazzkaar Festival in Estonia's capital Tallinn is one of the biggest jazz festivals in the Baltic States and celebrated it's 30th anniversary between the 19th to 28th of April 2019. An ever-present force on the jazz scene, it's programming team is led by Anne Erm and...

Self-booking an international tour with jazz pianist Alan Benzie

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15,000 jazz fans a year: Interview with Vilem Spilka of JazzFestBrno

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I’ve known Vilém for a few years now and he’s always been this mad...in a good way! I remember seeing him give a lecture at a conference for music managers and he was explaining the role of a music manager using a huge picture of a Czech literary and comic character...

Interview with Michael Fagien of Jazziz Magazine (USA)

Interview with Michael Fagien of Jazziz Magazine (USA)

Today's interview is with Michael Fagien, the founding editor of America's Jazziz Magazine. With over 30 years of experience in the jazz industry, he's seen first hand how things have changed and gives his insight on building your audience and connecting with jazz...

Interview with Eva Frost of Jazz Denmark

Interview with Eva Frost of Jazz Denmark

Eva Frost is a project manager at Jazz Denmark, the national organisation in Denmark responsible for supporting jazz musicians both within their country and with exporting Danish music around the world. A lot of countries have these organisations, but in my experience...

Q&A with jazz journalist Bruce Lindsay

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  I spend a lot of time on my laptop checking out jazz and, when it comes to reviews, the name Bruce Lindsay is one that comes up a lot! Based in Norwich, UK, Bruce wrote his first album review in 1974 and has gone on to write HUNDREDS more in the years since,...

Czech It Out! Interview with Jakub Zitko of Jazz Dock in Prague

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Jakub Zitko - today's guest - was already an established musician before he became programme manager of Jazz Dock. Dissatisfied with the tourist-oriented set ups of many venues in town - primarily restaurants with jazz on the side - he helped start a club where people...

Interview with Digital Expert & Jazz Manager Nadja von Massow

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I've noticed a strange phenomenon in the jazz world recently: there are people out there - both musicians and 'industry' - who seem to find extra hours in every day that no one else, myself included, know about. Today's Q&A guest - Ernesto Cervini - is certainly...

Q&A with British Jazz Promoter Tony Dudley-Evans

Q&A with British Jazz Promoter Tony Dudley-Evans

British jazz promoter Tony Dudley-Evans is a well-known figure on the European jazz scene, having booked more than 1,000 gigs over the last 20 years. He's been involved with the internationally renowned Cheltenham Jazz Festival since it's beginnings and is currently...

Interview with German Jazz Promoter Carsten Tradowsky

Interview with German Jazz Promoter Carsten Tradowsky

Carsten Tradowsky is part of the booking team for a jazz club & jazz festival in Karlsruhe, southwest Germany. As well as presenting regular jazz gigs throughout the year, the jazz club also runs a festival every autumn featuring a mix of international and German...

Booking Experimental Music  Q & A with Kat Jarby

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Kat Jarby runs Copenhagen-based Kaja Management and works with experimental/avant garde music. I met her back in 2016 when we did a panel - along with German agent Matthias Wendl from Artribute Booking - at the InJazz Conference in Rotterdam. The theme of our...

Social Media For Jazz Musicians: Interview with Philip Freeman

Social Media For Jazz Musicians: Interview with Philip Freeman

Today's interview guest - Philip Freeman - is based in the US and has worked in various roles including jazz publicity, marketing (both independently & for record labels) and as a music writer - currently on his Burning Ambulance blog. As someone on the forefront...