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.


When Yannick Hiwat enters the stage, he immediately commands attention. Not only because he uses the violin to play in what can be seen as ‘unusual’ types of musical genres, but also because he effortlessly combines his mastery of classical music – he was ‘New Maker’ at Rotterdam’s venue De Doelen for two years – with a deep-rooted sense of hip hop, soul and jazz. At Festival Jazz International Rotterdam, he will join the line-up of three different bands: Re:Freshed Orchestra, Ghasem Batamuntu & the Nu Nova Compound and leading his own Yannick Hiwat Quintet.

“For me, a very special place in Rotterdam remains the area around Kruisplein, because I had the most fantastic period of my life there at the HAVO for Music and Dance, and because it is also the place where I have made many friends for life.”