North Sea Jazz Fest kicks off

The 39th edition of the North Sea Jazz Festival will open its doors today. The three-day festival takes place in Rotterdam Ahoy with big veteran show-stoppers like as Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones joined by young talent such as Joss Stone and Pharrell Williams. 

"The acts that we need to have, we have", director Jan Willen Luyken tells the Algemeen Dagblad proudly of the line-up this year. And quite a line-up it is as well. Robin Thicke, Hall & Oates, Nile Rodgers, Paloma Faith, Natalie Cole, the list goes on.

Willem Luyken is putting it down to sheer luck that a lot of the acts were in the area just during this period so that the festival organizers could put them on the roster. "Next to that, our programmers have worked hard and we have a good reputation, which is why everyone is happy to play at our festival."

The festival director says that the budget this year is not much more expensive than last year's, and is even smaller than Pinkpop. The last time that they went over budget was in 2011, to accommodate Prince, who wanted to play the festival. They overcame that by organizing the Prince act into three separate night concerts with a separate ticket sale.

Willem Luyken tells the Algemeen Dagblad that he, together with the other organizers, compiled a wish list of dream acts six years ago. Of that list, Prince, Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder have been pulled off. "Remains Aretha Franklin. She still performs, but she doesn't want to fly. Every now and then an agent tries to get her over to Europe, if needs bee by cruise."

The director says that North Sea Jazz is as big as it's ever going to get. At the Ahoy stadium in Rotterdam, maximum capacity is 25,000 people per day. Adding more will ruin the atmosphere and comfort, he says.

Those who couldn't get tickets for the festival can catch the performances on television on Saturday and Sunday on Nederland 3.

Natalie Cole singing Unforgettable by her father Nat King Cole: