Thanks to Jazz Conservatory Codarts, the many jazz venues and festivals in the city and new “creative spots” being developed, there is no doubt a Rotterdam scene. But whether that is, strictly speaking, a jazz scene, remains a difficult question to answer. And whether we can actually speak of a typical Rotterdam sound, is not more certain. Looking at the diversity of styles, genres, inspirations and (cultural) backgrounds that influence the music made in Rotterdam in the field of jazz, categorizing it or even summarizing it in one sentence, is likely not to do it justice. Yet we dare to state that living and working in Rotterdam has an impact on creative minds. This city inspires like no other. But how?

Rotterdam’s musicians are the only ones who can try to answer that question. We follow a number of them in the run-up to their performances at Festival Jazz International Rotterdam: violinist Yannick Hiwat, pianist Alexander van Popta, singer Shirma Rouse, guitarist / producer Niels Nieuborg, and trombone player Efe Erdem.


“As a student you could fail three or four times a week during jam sessions and you were gaining a lot of experience very quickly. When they were held in De Doelen, jam sessions were crazy, and afterward at Dizzy, too! ”

Alexander van Popta has been a hardworking musician and a familiar face in Rotterdam’s music scene for almost 15 years. He entered the jazz / hip hop scene in Rotterdam with Re: Freshed Orchestra and he also played an important role as a musician playing with guitarist Reinier Baas, singers Ntjam Rosie and Shirma Rouse, the band Koffie and trumpet player Teus Nobel. In recent years, he has built a strong reputation as an arranger for the Metropole Orchestra, among others. Now the time has come to shed some light on this quiet powerhouse behind so many bands. He was an artist in focus at North Sea Round Town in 2019. At Festival Jazz International Rotterdam, you can hear Alexander playing with Yannick Hiwat Quintet and in Re: Freshed Orchestra. And last but not least, he will debut his own band, under the name ALEXANDER playing his own compositions, on his first great love, the piano.