Minnesota sur Seine was conceived to provide a means for regional musicians of the highest artistic caliber to collaborate with international artists of an equal or greater level of mastery. Originally presented as primarily a jazz festival, Minnesota sur Seine has broadened to include rock, hip-hop, Celtic, Berber, percussion and other genres. Programming continues to offer a broad spectrum of music while maintaining the festival's primary focus: providing a showcase for collaborative performance and artistic experimentation between regional and international musicians.
Musicians who were scheduled to appear in 2006 included: Anthony Cox, Fat Kid Wednesdays, Stokley Williams, Happy Apple, Jello Slave, George Cartwright and Chris Thomson and Brother Ali from the Twin Cities. National and international participants included: Evan Parker, Benoit Delbecq, Peter Brotzman, Ursus Minor, Tony Hymas, Bernard Lubat, Denis Colin, Pablo Cueco, Didier Petit, Regis Huby, Jacky Molard, Helene Labarriere, Janick Martin, Francois Corneloup, Mark Sanders, Umar bin Hassin, Jef Lee Johnson, French actress Natalie Richard and a group of six Moroccan women singers called B'net Houariyat, who sing, dance, and chant in a trance like style of music. Based in Marrakech, Morocco, they have recorded with Peter Gabriel as well as Happy Apple.
“Minnesota sur Seine” translates as "Minnesota on the Seine" and pays homage to the exciting musical exchange developing between the Twin Cities and Paris. A host of pioneering musicians from both river towns come together for an adventure in music and cross-cultural collaboration. Each night usually features two concerts with combinations showing both French and Minnesotans in collaboration.
The roots of the festival began in 2000 when Michel Portal, a reed player and leading figure in modern European jazz, along with iconoclastic French record producer Jean Rochard, visited the Twin Cities. Excited about what they found, the team entered Creation Audio in Minneapolis and recorded a CD called Minneapolis (Universal Music Jazz France, 2001) with Portal (bass clarinet, saxophones, bandoneon), Vernon Reid of Living Colour (guitar), Tony Hymas of Jeff Beck fame (keyboards), Sonny Thompson (bass, rap) and Michael Bland (drums). Minneapolis became jazz record of the year in France and had the best jazz record sales of the year 2001. It was followed by a live CD, Minneapolis We Insist, documenting a French tour that culminated with tremendous success at Paris Olympia, and a box set entitled Dipping in Minneapolis.