Baloise Session (until 2012 known as AVO SESSION Basel) is an indoor music festival, which takes place every October/November in Basel, Switzerland. The festival features international as well as national artists of diverse music genres in an intimate club setting. In 2010 the festival celebrated its 25th jubilee, and in 2013 the name of the event was changed to Baloise Session.
The AVO SESSION Basel emerged from a festival known as the Rheinknie Session in 1986. The five concerts of the first installment of the Festival in May 1986, included performances by Oscar Peterson, Albert Collins and Koko Taylor. The second year’s edition included shows by Fats Domino and Buddy Guy.
In 1988 Miles Davis agreed to perform at the festival. Subsequently the festival was first acknowledged outside of north-western Switzerland. Names such as Dizzy Gillespie, Michel Petrucciani and Herbie Hancock followed and Claude Nobs from Montreux Jazz Festival joined as a member of the patrons committee.
In its first ten years the festival focussed on continuous growth. By gradually integrating musical styles such as world music, soul and funk after 1995, it proved possible to approach a younger audience.
In 1997 the festival management decided to revamp the festival's content as well as its look and the festivals image was rejuvenated with greater importance attached to the attraction and driving power of international performers.
Embracing this vision, presenting sponsor AVO Cigars, part of Oettinger Davidoff, agreed to a growth-orientated sponsorship deal.
In the following years the festival now called AVO SESSION Basel presented headliner artists such as Bob Geldof (1998); Ray Charles (1999); James Brown (2000); Chris de Burgh (2001); Paolo Conte (2002); Deep Purple, Solomon Burke (2003); Lionel Richie, Lucio Dalla (2004); Simply Red, Francesco De Gregori (2005); Sir Elton John, Herbie Hancock (2006); Patti Austin, Joe Cocker, Mark Knopfler, Katie Melua (2007); Jethro Tull, Zucchero, Amy Macdonald, Cyndi Lauper (2008); Grace Jones, Tom Jones (2009); Jamiroquai, Mary J. Blige (2010); Liza Minnelli, Daniela Mercury, Paul Anka (2011); Rod Stewart (2012); Eric Clapton (2013); Toto, Candy Dulfer, Francesco De Gregori (2015); Alicia Keys (2017).
The club style seating arrangement, the combination of acts and the opportunity to experience big names in an intimate atmosphere have become trademarks.
All concerts are recorded and broadcast in up to forty countries on Swiss Television (SF), Arte, Telebasel and 3sat networks (a potential audience of 150 million households). The majority of concerts are also broadcast on Switzerland's DRS1 and DRS3 radio stations. In 2006 the festival’s first Eurovision broadcast took place with a show of Sir Elton John, followed by Katie Melua’s Europe-wide live broadcast in 2007. Additionally, the first live DVD featuring the show of Solomon Burke in 2003 was released in the same year. Since 2009 there is a live DVD named Live at AVO Session Basel of Jethro Tull's performance in 2008 on the market.
The AVO SESSION Basel has won first prize in the cultural category of the International Sponsorships Awards presented by the German sponsorship association FASPO.
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