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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » May 31, 2012
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Jazz in the Old Town: Stars and Discoveries
May 31, 2012   
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The Jazz in the Old Town International Open-Air Festival in Warsaw is one of the biggest and most popular music events in Poland. An artistic landmark of Warsaw, it has for 17 years been a major tourist attraction and a treat for music lovers. A single festival concert draws audiences of around 3,000, which over the years has added up to half a million people of different ages.

The festival stands out with its lineup of performers who play different styles of jazz and many of whom come to unveil their new projects and discoveries. The festival has introduced Polish audiences to such giants of the swing era as Scott Hamilton, Duffy Jackson and Dr. Lonnie Smith, and it also marked the first Polish concerts by new American talents such as the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio and the “Princess of Jazz” Grace Kelly Quintet. Jazz in the Old Town was also where Avishai Cohen, dubbed the magician of contemporary double-bass, made his first Polish appearance.

Some of Poland’s finest jazz musicians have also chosen to premiere their projects in the Old Town. These include Tomasz Stańko, Michał Urbaniak, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Leszek Możdżer and Włodek Pawlik. International jazz stars who have played at the Jazz in the Old Town festival include Archie Sheep, David Murray, Richard Galliano, Dino Saluzzi, Tony Lakatos, Chico Freeman, Kenny Wheeler, Bobo Stenson, Yaron Herman, Marilyn Mazur and Tord Gustavsen.

For many years, the festival has been featured in top Polish media. Advertisements for the event have been screened on BBC World, and the Deutsche Welle television channel has aired a report from the festival. The event has for several years been held under the auspices of the Polish culture minister and the mayor of Warsaw.

Highlights of the 18th Jazz in the Old Town Festival
June 30: Xavier Dotras Trio featuring Carme Calena. This will be the first Polish concert by Xavier Dotras, a Spanish piano virtuoso dubbed the sensation of Catalonia. Dotras is bringing a special project in which he will team up with Carme Calena, the most recognizable voice of the jazz scene in Spain.

July 7: Danilo Rea Trio. A celebrated Italian pianist, Rea is one of the best pianists in Europe. His collaborations include top international jazz musicians such as Chet Baker, Michael Brecker and Billy Cobham. In his music, he delivers an intriguing combination of romanticism and lyricism that leaves audiences spellbound.

July 21: Radio.String.Quartet.Vienna. In their first Polish concert, one of the best Austrian and European bands in their genre will play a special set in honor of Joe Zawinul, who would have been 80 this year. The Viennese musicians approach music with invention, daringly pushing the boundaries between jazz, classical music and pop. Their perfectly improvised performances, creativity and virtuosity have won over audiences and critics alike.

July 28: Michael Wollny Project. The young German pianist is regarded as one of the most important contemporary jazz musicians in Europe, a status that shows in numerous awards and invitations to join in musical projects by prominent jazz musicians such as Brad Mehldau, Kenny Barron. Wollny has also made recordings for the prestigious ACT Music record label.

Aug. 4: Jeff Lorber Fusion featuring Eric Marienthal. Grammy Award nominee Jeff Lorber from the United States is a smooth jazz and fusion icon, keyboardist and composer who has produced albums for Chris Botti, U2 and The Manhattan Transfer. In his premiere concert in Warsaw, Lorber will perform his latest CD entitled Galaxy and featuring jazz with hints of rock, R&B and funk. He will be backed by magnificent sax player Eric Marienthal.

Aug. 11: Kyle Eastwood Band. American jazz bassist and composer Kyle Eastwood is the son of filmmaker and actor Clint Eastwood. Eastwood junior writes movie scores and has recorded six albums with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Toots Thielemans and Manu Katche. An accomplished live artist, Kyle Eastwood tours the world from the United States to Japan to Europe. This will be his first concert in Poland.

Aug. 25: Ernie Watts Quartet. One of the world’s most acclaimed jazz musicians, American jazz legend Ernie Watts is a sax player whose collaborations include The Rolling Stones and Frank Zappa. A two-time Grammy winner, he has for years formed a musical partnership with well-known double-bass player Charlie Haden.

Jazz in the Old Town International Open-Air Festival; Warsaw, Old Town Square, June 30-Aug. 25
Free admission; www.jazznastarowce.pl
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