The city of Nice on the French Riviera is home to one of the most storied summer jazz events in Europe. Now the Nice Jazz Festival is adding a Miami edition — the beginning of a planned five-year run.
The Miami Nice Jazz Festival will be celebrated at the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center and several small downtown venues October 26-28.
The program has not been finalized, but the artists tentatively scheduled include singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, bassist Kyle Eastwood (in his Miami debut) and French drummer Andre Ceccarelli.
Ensembles from the jazz programs of the University of Miami and Florida International University also will be part of the event.
“I live in Miami, and every year I go back to the south of France for my business,” says French events producer Philippe Pautesta-Herder, founder and CEO of the Miami Nice Jazz Festival.
“Last year I went to check the new location of the festival and that’s when I realized there were many similarities between the location in Nice and Miami. And I think there is an audience for this music in Miami. While there are jazz series, there is no festival, there is no Art Basel of jazz, so we thought there was an opportunity.”
October’s event is the first in an annual, five-year commitment, said Pautesta-Herder, who is known to Real Housewives of Miami fans as the husband of “Housewife” Marysol Patton.
Nice, a Miami sister city, is the title sponsor of the festival, with the nonprofit Rhythm Foundation acting as local consultant.
The Nice Jazz Festival traces its roots to an event held in 1948 under the artistic direction of French critic and producer Hugues Panassié, then president of the Hot Club de France, that featured hallowed jazz figures including trumpeter Louis Armstrong, violinist Stéphane Grapelli and guitarist Django Reinhardt.
After a 23-year hiatus, Nice held a jazz festival again in 1971. The event truly gained traction in 1974, when American jazz pianist and impresario George Wein, who had been instrumental in founding Rhode Island’s Newport Jazz Festival, created Le Grande Parade du Jazz (The Great Jazz Parade). The event became a mainstay of the European summer jazz festival circuit.
Celebrated at the historic Roman ruins at Cimiez on the outskirts of Nice, the parade was an 11-day festival with continuous music on four stages. It became The Nice Jazz Festival in 1994, and subsequently moved to the city proper, where it is part of Nice’s cultural programming.