John Scofield and other musicians of world renown at Plovdiv Jazz Fest
The jazz festival in Plovdiv is inviting friends and fans to its jazz events from 31 October till 2 November. As always the concerts are taking place at the Boris Christoff culture house in the city. Each one of the jazz nights has its own theme, the programme features renowned musicians, new projects and lots of enjoyable music.
Having been created in 2015, the festival is one of the youngest jazz forums in the country.
”From the very start we have been working with several world agencies which put their trust in us, agencies working in this domain, with this style of music,” says jazz singer Miroslava Katsarova, artistic director of Plovdiv Jazz Fest. “They are not among the “mammoth” agencies in the business, they are independent and represent some of the biggest names whom we greatly admire. The people we work with know Bulgaria very well – for example at the conferences organized by Petar Dimitrov as part of the A to Jazz festival. These people are so impressed by the fact that we have chosen to organize a festival of a form of art which is expensive even though we live in one of the poorest countries of Europe.”
Here is Miroslava Katsarova with more about the festival and the accompanying programme:
“Ladies in jazz” is one of the highlights in the programme this year. That is the name we have given to the first night. We open the jazz festival with a concert by Maria Joao – one of the world’s top jazz singers. She will be performing with her long-time stage partner – Mario Laginha. Spectacular, very unconventional and colourful… The second concert is by Linda May Han Oh and her quartet. Some time ago I listened to her perform in London with Pat Metheny’s last band. Playing with him is, in itself a major achievement. She is a bassist, she was born in Malaysia, grew up in Australia and lives and works in New York. A fascinating composer. I think she will be the big discovery at the jazz festival in Plovdiv.
The second evening is guitarists’ night with the Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio, representing the young generation of musicians. Kurt Rosenwinkel has partnered up with different musicians though he follows a path all his own. His concert is right before the concert by John Scofield. We shall be able to hear Scofield perform together with Jon Cleary – both have been awarded Grammies. Clerary is British but lives in New Orleans because he is a researcher of the traditions of this culture, skillfully weaving it into his own music. We shall be able to listen to a blend of blues, rhythm and blues and jazz.
The third night is something I had dreamt of doing for a long time at Plovdiv Jazz Fest, it is Bulgarian musicians’ night. It starts with a tribute concert to Rumen Toskov. We invited Antoni Donchev to organize this project – he was a close friend of Rumen Toskov’s and his mentor… “Seeing a bird fly” is the name Antoni gave to the concert, in which we shall be able to listen to Valentin Gerov (viola), Rosen Zahariev (trumpet), Veselin Veselinov Eko (double bass) and others. Then comes the concert by Pepi Slavov Jr. who has been living and working in New York for years, he works with Joe Lovano and has a Grammy nomination. This is his first time in Bulgaria together with his band – the band he works with in the US – and he will be presenting his first album called Little Stories. Our accompanying programme is always very varied – w have our Youth Jazz Competition with gala on 2 November, there will be two book and two album presentations. This year’s grand prix at Plovdiv Jazz Fest goes to Theodosii Spassov for his contribution as a performer but also as organizer of jazz events.”
How does one go about organizing a festival with such an impressive programme in a situation that is not easy for culture. Miroslava Katsarova:
“It is an ongoing effort – we have to persuade the institutions to look favourably on us because we are the “homeless music” unlike symphony music or opera, for example. They have their delegated budgets, whereas we have to raise the money ourselves. Plovdiv Jazz Fest was created as a public-private initiative but when it is art we are talking about the state and the municipality should also be involved. As far as our festival goes – it is part of the Plovdiv – European capital of culture programme. This year we were unable to raise the money for all big names who stated their interest, but we have planned their concerts for the next edition of the festival. Renowned musicians enjoy coming to this country, they can see they have fans here and an ocean of new things.”