Marcel Roelofs has been a programmer for the SummerJazzCyclingTour for about thirty years

“It shouldn't be straight. Skew is beautiful”

As an experienced programmer of the Summer Jazz Bicycle Tour, how do you determine which musicians to bring to the Reidiep area? That turns out to be quite complicated. Programmer Marcel Roelofs (65) gives us a look behind the scenes. And gives three tips of bands you should experience on August 25 and 26.

Warm summer sounds sound in the corner house in the Oosterpoortwijk in Stad. The music does not come from one of the countless CDs, DVDs and LPs that dominate the living room. Marcel: “That's the beauty of internet radio, you can listen to stations all over the world. This is one of my favorites, WFMU in New Jersey. They mix up everything, not just jazz.”

And then Roelofs also has a PC full of jazz. And of course you have the online music services, where almost everything can be found. Can you have too much jazz? “No”, laughs Marcel. "I do not think so."

Marcel Roelofs

Marcel inherited his immense love for music from his parents, who had a jazz collection. They had a Readers Digest lpbox, with the song Sing Sing Sing by Benny Goodman. Turned gray. Then Marcel was seven years old.


There might be someone in Groningen who knows and loves jazz just as much as Marcel does. But that chance is not very great. Jazz has even pushed him to his current place of residence. He was born in Nijmegen, but went to live in Groningen after visiting the former Jazzmarathon festival here a number of times. Marcel wanted to be closer to the jazz fire. It turned out to be a happy marriage.

He soon became involved with the Grand Theater in the City, first as a volunteer, later as a programmer. Marcel worked there for about 35 years, organized all kinds of jazz events and became a programmer at the ZomerJazzCyclingTour in the early 1990s.

Marcel has just returned from Berlin, where he attended a number of concerts. Live performances, that's where he gets his inspiration from. Because what does he pay attention to when he wants to book a band?
The most important criteria at a glance:

  • Something has to happen on stage. Marcel is not such a fan of bands that replay their CD. Improvisation and experience, that's what it's all about.
  • The acoustics have to be right. The musicians sometimes play in small churches that can fit less than a hundred people. This has consequences for the music that can be played there. Sometimes when hearing a band, Marcel already has in mind the location where they are going to play.
  • The 'family', as Marcel calls them. In other words: the owners or operators of a location. They have their preferences. One wants tasty 'rotherrie', the other party music. And yet another wants something very small and intimate. Marcel listens with the ears of the 'family' and adjusts the bands accordingly.

Apart from everything, Marcel has a preference for less well-known bands. He mainly watches what they do live, which is why he wants to see them live. Something has to happen on stage. No musicians who neatly replay a CD. “What's the point of that, you might as well play a CD. It shouldn't be straight. Skew is beautiful. Surprising. Listening music that contains tension. Attention music, I call it.”

Marcel has a free hand in the musicians he chooses. There is no other way, he thinks. "It's like making a painting, you don't do that with a whole group."

He can explain the success of the Summer Jazz Bicycle Tour. “It's not just about the music. Even if you don't like a band, it's still a great day out. You cycle through a beautiful landscape, with all those beautiful churches and houses and all friendly people. It's not mushy. It's natural. It's also good that it's only one day. Then it stays fresh and it doesn't become too massive.”
“I have experienced special things. In the early years of the ZomerJazzCycleTour it was not customary for the bands to pay by bank. It had to be cash. But sometimes musicians had already left before we paid them. We followed with a bag full of money. You are then standing on the verge in the middle of a meadow. Beautiful scene.”

And which bands will he watch himself this time? Here they come: Marcel's three tips, in random order:

  • Cristian Marien Quartet, with Tobias Delius on tenor sax/clarinet
  • Dave Douglas Mountain Passages, with Dave Douglas on trumpet
  • Naked Ears, featuring Joseph Bowie of Defunkt, vocals and trombone

And another tip from Marcel: go to the second set as much as possible. Then you have by far the best chance that there is still room.

Sound and video fragments of all artists will be available on this site from the beginning of July. Tasty warm-ups. For those who still need it then.