Niklaus Troxler is a graphic designer. Niklaus Troxler is a jazz fanatic. Nearly forty years ago, Troxler invited a jazz group to play in Willisau, the small Swiss farming town he calls home, and thus it began: Willisau became established as an unlikely destination for jazz musicians and their fans, and Troxler began to acquire a reputation as a designer to watch. Today, his work is exhibited, published, and collected all over the world, and Jazz Festival Willisau — which has hosted Keith Jarrett, Lester Bowie, Dewey Redman, McCoy Tyner, and the Kronos Quartet, among many others — is about to celebrate its 37th year.
The posters that Niklaus Troxler has designed to promote jazz in his home town can be viewed as a single, self-initiated project that has developed over five decades, a body of work that has few, if any, precedents. Spanning an astonishing range of styles, the posters are united by a single thing: the passion of a single man who serves at once as designer and client.
This year, for the first time ever, Willisau comes to New York. On March 10, Jazz at Lincoln Center will host an exhibition and presentation by Troxler himself, followed by a concert featuring pianist Cecil Taylor, saxophonist John Zorn, and trumpeter Dave Douglas. A gala sponsored by AIGANY, the event's proceeds will benefit — appropriately — Common Ground, the organization that is working to restore the vitality of the place where jazz was born, New Orleans.
Many young designers dream of a world where they can set their own agenda and create without boundries. For most of us, this remains a fantasy. Niklaus Troxler proves that it can be done. Come to Lincoln Center on March 10 and see for yourself.
[Editor's note: The Nicholas Troxler event at Jazz at Lincoln Center has been postponed.]