"Music education is one of the pillars of the cultural development of each and every individual," says Jan van Charante, director of the Surinam Jazz Festival foundation. "Due to circumstances, this is no longer a mandatory part of elementary education in Suriname. The possibilities for private education are also limited, as a result of which the quality of music is noticeably declining. The objective of the Surinam Jazz Festival foundation is to put an end to that decline by means of music education. Stimulating music education will help to develop Surinam talent. Meaning that Surinam can perform better during the festival. It also leads to improved cultural development."
Late in October 2007 the foundation organised the Suriname Jazz Festival for the sixth time. Surinam's grand total of four music schools all performed, including the school in Lelydorp, some twenty kilometres from Paramaribo. The four music schools will also be participating in the pilot of the educational programme Two way train the trainer, an initiative taken by the foundation, in 2008. Teachers from the four music schools will consult with colleague music teachers from other countries a number of times in the course of the year. The mutual exchange of knowledge is to subsequently improve the quality and versatility of music education in Surinam.
The theme of this year's festival was Jazz meets Roots. Local Surinam music styles with their characteristic singing techniques and percussion instruments were mixed with influences from New Orleans jazz, Afro-Cuban music and Calypso. The result was the typical Surinam Creole dance music, Kaseko.
"During the first five years of the festival, we gathered knowledge about what is known as Kaseko Jazz, a fusion between the Kaseko dance music and modern jazz. As an organisation, we are convinced that the strength of our festival lies with this style. This year, for example, the Effendi Ketwaru school jazz group successfully performed together with the NAKS cultural association's dance and song group. Highly rhythmic song and dance accompanied the jazz music written by Surinam composers. This was the first time we had a combined performance," says Van Charante.