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Coolture Column

Jazzzzzz Days

The 21st annual Bratislava Jazz Days festival is here, and Peter Lipa, the Slovak King of Jazz, has returned to redefine what jazz music really means.

"What is jazz?" said Lipa. "We're still trying to figure that out. We mix blues, jazz, dixieland, with a little New Orleans style." The result? Avant-garde jazz? "It's definitely something new," he added.

Lipa has seen a successful 21-year run of jazz performances, showcasing the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Stanley Jordan, and Herbie Hancock in recent years. "Bobby even asked me to sing with him after his performance," Lipa related, beaming. "I'm glad it was recorded because it was a very special occasion for me." An accomplished singer in Slovakia, Lipa has toured all over the world, but his home is clearly Bratislava where he has performed weekly at Mamut for almost 15 years with his band T & R (Traditional and Revival). "This is my life," he said. "I will do it until I have no strength left."

"We were a student group, playing weekly at Czech Centrum on Námestie SNP," Lipa recounted. "We decided to invite other musicians from Eastern Europe to play in a festival. By the third year, the Ministry of Culture recognized us and provided some support. We are the only music festival in Slovakia, except some classical music festivals, that the ministry supports."

This year's Jazz Days wíll fall on the weekend of October 20-22 (See Coolture Clips for listings). Jazz artists from around the world play together in what can only be termed a jazz-frenzy. Each day will feature a different American jazz player, as well as performers from Poland, Hungary and Great Britain. The shows last almost 6 hours, including breaks. "The hall where we perform is rather small so there's a special intimacy and energy between the musicians and the spectators," Lipa said. "It's exciting. It's unique."

Bratislava Jazz Days performances will be at the PKO. Each evening's program starts at 6 p.m.

Charile's closing?!? It certainly appears that a cornerstone of Bratislava's nightlife has been given their walking papers by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, who currently own the building where the nightclub and movie mecca have resided for the last five years. Even the Austrian owner, Rudolf Biermann, isn't quite sure when it will happen, but the move could occur any day now. Keep your fingers crossed.

Bratislava, Arizona. Sound strange? George Marecek returned from Tuscon with an art exhibition cosponsored by the City Gallery (Galéria mesta Bratislavy)and the Art University of Tucson, titled "Earth Sky." Running until November 5 at the Páffyho palác on Panská ulica, from 10 am to 7 pm.

Don't miss Bratislava Jazz Days! Here's the lineup: Friday, October 20, the Hot Serenaders, the B.P. Project, the Olah Kalman Sextet and the Betty Carter Trio from the States. Saturday, the Matús Jakabcic Tentet, Little Egoist, Red Eagle, and the well-known Steps Ahead. Sunday, Jiri Stivín Quartet, the Hiram Bullock Group and the Vienna Art Orchestra. Call 07/333 867 for reservations.

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