Morocco Jazz Festival: A Celebration of International Jazz Artists



The Morocco Jazz Festival is one of the biggest and most anticipated annual events in Morocco. It attracts music enthusiasts from all over the world to experience a unique blend of traditional Moroccan music and modern jazz. The festival is held in various cities across the country, including Tangier, Rabat, and Casablanca, and features a diverse lineup of local and international artists.

The festival has been running for several years and has become an important cultural event in Morocco. It is a celebration of the country’s rich musical heritage and the diversity of its people. Jazz music has a long history in Morocco, and the festival provides a platform for both established and up-and-coming artists to showcase their talent and connect with a wider audience.

Visitors to the festival can expect to be immersed in a vibrant atmosphere of music, dance, and culture. The festival is a great opportunity to experience the unique rhythms and sounds of Morocco, as well as to discover new artists and styles of music. Whether you are a jazz aficionado or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, the Morocco Jazz Festival is not to be missed.

History of the Morocco Jazz Festival

The Morocco Jazz Festival has a rich history that dates back to the early 1990s. The festival was founded by Neila Tazi, a Moroccan music promoter who wanted to bring jazz music to Morocco and showcase the country’s vibrant cultural scene. The first edition of the festival was held in Casablanca in 1996, and it featured a lineup of local and international jazz musicians.

The festival was an instant success, and it attracted jazz enthusiasts from all over the world. Over the years, the festival has grown in popularity and has become one of the most important jazz festivals in North Africa. It has also expanded to other cities in Morocco, including Rabat, Tangier, and Essaouira.

One of the unique features of the Morocco Jazz Festival is its commitment to showcasing local talent. The festival has provided a platform for many up-and-coming Moroccan jazz musicians to showcase their skills and gain exposure.

Other Jazz Festivals in Morocco

Jazzablanca Festival

The Jazzablanca Festival is an annual jazz event held in Casablanca, Morocco. This vibrant festival features a diverse lineup of both international and local artists, showcasing a wide range of jazz styles, as well as other genres such as soul, funk, and world music.

The festival’s aim is to promote cultural exchange and appreciation of jazz music among Moroccans and visitors alike.

Describing Jazzablanca merely as a jazz festival would significantly undervalue the variety of music showcased and overlook the extent to which other musical styles, such as blues, rock, and Gnawa music, were blended with jazz performances to create the festival’s distinctive sound. Nevertheless, Jazzablanca remained true to the essence of jazz, not only in the music but in other aspects as well.

Jazzablanca also offers workshops, masterclasses, and other interactive activities, providing a rich and engaging experience for all attendees.

Gnaoua Festival

The Gnaoua Festival, also known as the Gnaoua World Music Festival, is an annual event held in Essaouira, Morocco. This unique celebration showcases the music, culture, and traditions of the Gnaoua people, who are descendants of former slaves from sub-Saharan Africa. Their music is characterised by the use of distinctive instruments such as the guembri, krakebs, and the captivating rhythms that accompany their powerful, trance-inducing songs.

The festival attracts a diverse lineup of international and Moroccan musicians, who perform alongside the Gnaoua ensembles, known as “maâlems”. This fusion of musical styles and cultures creates a truly mesmerising experience for the audience set on the streets and beautiful beaches in Essaouira.

Current State of the Morocco Jazz Festival

Location and Venues

The Morocco Jazz Festival is held annually in various cities throughout the country, including Tangier, Rabat, and Casablanca. The festival takes place in a variety of venues, ranging from intimate jazz clubs to large concert halls and outdoor stages. In recent years, the festival has expanded to include more venues and locations, making it more accessible to jazz fans throughout the country.

Lineup and Performances

The Morocco Jazz Festival features a diverse lineup of local and international jazz musicians, ranging from established legends to up-and-coming artists. The festival showcases a wide range of jazz styles, from traditional swing and bebop to modern fusion and avant-garde. In addition to concerts, the festival also includes workshops, masterclasses, and jam sessions, providing opportunities for musicians and fans to connect and collaborate.

Are there any jazz festivals in Africa?

Yes, there are several jazz festivals held in Africa that celebrate the genre and its talented musicians. Some of the notable jazz festivals on the continent include:

  1. Cape Town International Jazz Festival, South Africa: This is one of the largest music events in Africa and is held annually in Cape Town. It features both international and local jazz musicians, attracting thousands of music enthusiasts.
  2. Safaricom International Jazz Festival, Kenya: Held in Nairobi, this festival showcases a mix of local and international jazz acts. Proceeds from the festival support various charitable causes, particularly those focused on music education for young people.
  3. Joy of Jazz Festival, South Africa: Taking place in Johannesburg, this festival has become a significant event on the South African jazz calendar. It brings together local and international artists, promoting the diversity and creativity of the jazz genre.
  4. Saint-Louis Jazz Festival, Senegal: As one of the oldest jazz festivals in Africa, this event is held annually in the historic city of Saint-Louis. It features a variety of international and African jazz musicians, offering a unique blend of musical styles and cultural influences.

These are just a few examples of the numerous jazz festivals that take place across Africa, each celebrating the rich musical heritage and ongoing evolution of the genre.