Rhino Jazz(s): 40 years of Jazz(s)

The history of the Rhino Jazz(s) Festival is closely linked to its president, Jean-Paul Chazalon: «Often, Fate shows up out of nowhere and you just tag along. The Rhino is not a one-man story but the story of hundreds of people ».

This is how the first festival of jazz started. It was in 1977, Jean-Paul Chazalon being a jazz enthusiast and the mayor of Rive De Gier at that time wished to host a festival in his town. Everything went fast, the musician Maurice Merle joined the adventure, the town council gave some kick-start funds, and in January 1979 the adventure started for good with a two-day festival. «We had no long-term perspective. But the audience and the volunteers came forward to us, and if the festival still exists it is thanks to their support as well as those of the local communities, partners and the media » declared the president.

In 2008, Jean-Paul Chazalon’s team moved its offices from Rive de Gier to the Château du Jarez. «I do not have further comments on the reasons why we moved. Once in Rive De Gier, we are here to stay and at ease » he said. In forty years, the festival’s activities quickly spread to the surrounding villages of the valley and even farther until today and its about thirty collaborating local communities. «I think that the people appreciate our musical aesthetics boldness, it is the brand of the festival. Since day one, our audience comes from all over the surrounding Regions to watch the shows. At the same time the extension of the territory has made it possible for all kinds of music to have their way in the festival » specified the president.

The manifestations now touch a larger audience and the team around Jean-Paul Chazalon has grown bigger: the festival is employing full-time six employees.

In October, for its fortieth edition, the Rhino Jazz(s) will offer two major never-heard-of-worldwide music creations about the David Bowie’s work, David Bowie having been the central theme of the past two years. An internationally unique exhibition is also programmed with six hundred objects about the star will be displayed at the old Manufacture de Saint-Etienne.

An article by Françoise Liogier for Le Progrès,
translated to English and edited by Anne and Claude Delgoulet.