"Jazz Re/Bordered: Cultural Policy in Danish Jazz"

Author / Artist: 
Publication Date: 
September, 2010

The small nation of Denmark has served as one of the main European centers for jazz production and consumption since the 1930s. Beginning in the mid‐1980s, a number of young Danish musicians, producers, and cultural policy makers emerged who collectively transformed jazz in Denmark. This paper investigates how state‐sponsored cultural policies, an upsurge in nationalistic fervor, broader political and economic change throughout Europe, as well as the economic prosperity of the U.S. in the mid‐1980s, are tied to striking changes in the jazz performed and produced in Denmark in recent years. The paper argues that through the efforts of both public and private institutions in collusion with creative musicians within Denmark, and through alliances of like organizations and musicians across Europe, Danish jazz has evolved out of the shadow of America, resulting in the re‐bordering of a historically marked African American music, into an independent and self‐consciously Eurocentric expression. The paper identifies key historical developments in the jazz of Denmark, tracing how the tensions between local and global identities in the context of the transatlantic jazz culture have been navigated within the backdrop of a social welfare state and have culminated in the emergence of a vibrant and uniquely inflected “Danish jazz.”