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Jazz Days festival ready to roll

This year's Bratislava Jazz Days runs from October 23 to 25. As usual, concerts start in the evening and last until early the next morning. Despite the organisational problems that have snarled previous festivals, the organisers claim that this year's concerts should not last much past 1 a.m. On Friday October 23 and Saturday October 24, concerts kick off at 7 p.m., while Sunday's events start an hour earlier.
Besides two Slovak bands, the festival will present mainly American and European artists, many of whom belong to the world's jazz front liners. Courtney Pine, the British sax legend whose repertoire ranges from mainstream to hip-hop, will hit the stage on October 23, accompanied by a band that includes two DJ's.


New York Voices are one of the many famous groups at BJDC 1998.
Courtesy of BJD

This year's Bratislava Jazz Days runs from October 23 to 25. As usual, concerts start in the evening and last until early the next morning. Despite the organisational problems that have snarled previous festivals, the organisers claim that this year's concerts should not last much past 1 a.m. On Friday October 23 and Saturday October 24, concerts kick off at 7 p.m., while Sunday's events start an hour earlier.

Besides two Slovak bands, the festival will present mainly American and European artists, many of whom belong to the world's jazz front liners. Courtney Pine, the British sax legend whose repertoire ranges from mainstream to hip-hop, will hit the stage on October 23, accompanied by a band that includes two DJ's. Pine's show will be followed by New York Voices, the famous American vocal quartet, who share their current position at the top of the vocal charts with fellow citymates Manhattan Transfer.

October 24 opens with the modern jazz trio of Czech guitarist Roman Pokorný. The star-studded evening also features the band of Wolfgang Puschnig, an Austrian saxophone player and co-founder of the famous Vienna Art Orchestra. Michele Hendricks Quintet will take the stage after that. Hendricks is the well known and talented singing daughter of vocal virtuoso Jon Hendricks. Her show will include jazz standards as well as some of her own compositions. The evening will end up with eight-string guitar master Charlie Hunter and his driving Pound For Pound group.

The final festival evening on October 25 will welcome American avant-garde trombone player Ray Anderson, who invented "trombone singing". Larry Corryell, who played at Jazz Days first in 1983, returns with a band of famous musicians including Randy Brecker on trumpet and Alphonse Mouzon on drums.

Ticket prices: 215 Sk (advance purchase), 230 Sk (concert day), 600 Sk (three-day ticket). Ticket sales and bookings at PKO, Hviezdoslavovo nám. 24, tel.: 07/5333 867, or web-sites: www.bjdc98.sk, or www.pko.sk


Bratislava's annual "Jazz Days" jazz festival is set to open once again from October 23 to 25. After 24 years, the festival has become one of the most respected in Europe. But despite the best efforts of its organizers, it has still not managed to secure major financial support from the Culture Ministry.

"Every single year I go to the Culture Ministry and try to persuade them that this festival is a part of Slovak culture and should belong to the national cultural heritage," said festival president Peter Lipa, himself a famous Slovak jazz singer.

Without such state backing, festival organisers have had to find a general sponsor who was willing to keep the festival alive. Since 1994, this support has come from Nitra's Corgoň brewery, and the festival name has thus been duly extended to Bratislava Jazz Days Corgoň.

"Without sponsors, this festival would not exist," seconded Pavel Daněk, Director of Rock Pop Agency, the main festival organiser. "Foreign cultural institutes based in Slovakia - French, Austrian, Hungarian, Czech and British - also play a very important role in donating money to the festival to pay for the artists coming from their countries," Daněk added.

According to Daněk, ticket sales cover no more than 16% of the festival budget, while the money received from state media channels Slovak Television and Slovak Radio for live broadcast and taped recordings comes to a mere 7% of final costs. Meanwhile, the recent weakening of the Slovak currency raised the cost of staging the festival by 500,000 Sk ($48,000) to a record 4.1 million Sk ($113,000).

"The festival has a very good reputation abroad, and it certainly belongs to the biggest European jazz events," said Jana Uhlieriková, a Rock Pop agent. Uhlieriková explained that the festival attracts many foreign agencies and promoters, who then send offers to Rock Pop so the festival organizers can choose artists they would like to present in Bratislava.

"The only limitation is our budget," said Uhlieriková, adding that Jazz Days organisers still cannot afford to attract world famous jazz stars to perform at the festival at the same time. "Therefore, the festival has one or two highlights each evening," said Lipa. "Before these acts, we introduce less-known but still very good artists, usually from neighbouring countries."

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