Updated March 2018: I’m a huge fan of Smooth Jazz. I remember when Chicago radio station, WNUA, used to play a style of music that was a mix of R&B, Jazz, Rock, Pop, and Funk. Some call it elevator music, or ambient music. There used to be a Sunday Smooth Jazz brunch at the Hotel Nikko, now the Westin, and, Chicago was the first place I saw saxophonist Warren Hill play live. He was my favorite for a long time. While smooth jazz has been popular in the States, since moving ‘across the pond,’ I’ve had difficulty in finding any smooth jazz festivals in Europe, until now. Read on…
WNUA, like many smooth jazz stations, dried up, but public appreciation of the genre did not. Radio turned to the web, and hotels, restaurants and unique venues took over to fill the market’s demand.
A favorite, the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, offers a Summer Concert Series. It’s the best in Smooth Jazz in their intimate Back Bay Amphitheater throughout the summer. There is nothing more enjoyable than to sit outside, caressed by the warm Southern Cal breezes listening to Grammy-Award winning artists, such as Euge Groove, Peter White, Dave Koz, and others. I remember seeing Michael Franks here a long time ago!
Spaghettini Fine Dining and Entertainment is a seemingly unlikely place to have smooth jazz, but this place really jams! Located in Seal Beach, CA, you come for the delicious northern Italian cuisine and stay for the show.
Another unique open-air venue is the Mediterranean Terrace over looking Southern California’s vineyard at Thornton Winery in Temecula. They have an Annual Champagne Jazz Series, which is so fitting for folks who ‘get’ Smooth Jazz, because they are a different caliber. ‘Groupies’ if you will, are quite a sophisticated bunch and champagne fits right in. They are also well-traveled, often catching a flight or splurging on a cruise to see their favorite artists.
Smooth Jazz is taking off in Europe
We are now finally seeing Smooth Jazz in Europe, thankfully, with frequent sold-out events at the cozy Pizza Express Jazz Clubs in London. The North Sea Jazz Festival takes place each year in July in Rotterdam offering the chance to hear 1,000 musicians of all types of jazz from traditional to smooth in 13 different venues over a 3-day period. Around 70,000 people attend, so you’ll be in good company.
Smooth Jazz Festivals in Europe
Since 2012, a German group called Smooth Entertainment has been hosting several, multiple-day smooth jazz festivals in Europe. These events are truly an amazingly intimate experience. You get up close and personal with the artists. You might be dining with them, taking an excursion together, sharing a drink at the bar, or even dancing with them!
These festivals are all situated around 5* resorts and unique venues. The acclaimed 5* Protur Biomar Grand Hotel & Spa is the venue for Mallorca’s event, where music spills out onto terraces and alongside the vast pool. We know that pool bar all too well.
The staff at the Protur are exemplary and many staff members are there year after year. They have a sister hotel literally next door, the 4* Protur Sa Coma Playa Hotel & Spa, that is, as well, very service-oriented. I highly recommend both resorts as they are top-notch quality with exemplary amenities.
The Portugal setting is at one of the Leading Hotels of the World members, Vila Vita Parc. This Moorish-inspired 5* Resort comes with luxurious amenities, culinary delights and Portuguese hospitality. This venue offers six bars and 10 restaurants, ranging from casual beach-side treats, up to an elegant and unique two Michelin-starred restaurant. Their wine cave? 11,000 bottles…. That should do!
And if the musicians weren’t enough, there is always an after-concert party hosted by DJ Richard Edward. He spins the best dance tunes until early in the morning. The party never stops, and I for one am looking forward to the next one. Hope to see you at the next Smooth Jazz Festival in Europe.
For more information, please click the links above. Tickets are available for the upcoming Smooth Jazz Mallorca Festival in April and for more information about what to expect at a festival, please check out the article on the Smooth Jazz Festival in Portugal’s Algarve.