Top Pick: Time to jazz it up at Bratislava festival

CZECH musician Dan Bárta became famous as the lead singer of various rock and funk bands. He also starred in several musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar.
But his newly released jazz album, which he presents at the Bratislava Jazz Days festival (October 18 to 20) is something different again.
"I only got acquainted with jazz four or five years ago, when some of my friends who are jazz musicians introduced me to records like Chet Baker's 'Best of' and Wayne Shorter's 'High life'. I realised that funk and big-beat weren't the only types of music out there," says Bárta.


DAN Bárta may surprise many at Jazz Days.
photo: Courtesy of BJD

CZECH musician Dan Bárta became famous as the lead singer of various rock and funk bands. He also starred in several musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar.

But his newly released jazz album, which he presents at the Bratislava Jazz Days festival (October 18 to 20) is something different again.

"I only got acquainted with jazz four or five years ago, when some of my friends who are jazz musicians introduced me to records like Chet Baker's 'Best of' and Wayne Shorter's 'High life'. I realised that funk and big-beat weren't the only types of music out there," says Bárta.

His approach to jazz is considered very innovative, and critics praise his creative approach to sound and his lyrics, which he mostly writes himself. "Jazz opened up a great space for me, and I feel like I have a lot to learn," he adds.

Even though Bárta and his band Illustratosphere are considered a well-kept secret of the Bratislava Jazz Days festival, the newly reverted jazzman fits in perfectly with this year's programme, which comprises musicians as diverse as the branches of the genre.

They are musicians with backgrounds in world music, blues and electronic music, who come from countries all over the globe but have one thing in common - their devotion to all that jazz.

Both headliners of the first and the second night will play what could be called ethnic jazz. On Friday, American Ronnie Cuber and his band Cubism will perform a fusion of African and Caribbean rhythms with soul and blues. On Saturday, the Jazz Jamaican All Stars will get you grooving with their reggae arrangements of jazz classics, their own songs and Jamaican folk tunes.

And two other featured bands are Djabe from Hungary, which combines "smooth" jazz with elements of world music, and Gilad Atzmon and his Orient House Ensemble, which will jam to a crossover mixture of Balkan, Arab and Jewish music. Both bands will perform on October 18.

The music of the festival's main headliner, American guitarist and singer Robben Ford, also displays a wide variety of styles and influences. Highlighting the Sunday night, Ford and his band will run the gamut from blues and soul through rhythm and blues to funk, proving, along with all the other musicians taking part in the festival, that jazz is far more than what its four letters might at first imply.

The Bratislava Jazz Days festival runs from October 18 to 20, starting at 19:00 on Friday and Saturday, and at 18:00 on Sunday. It takes place at the PKO (Park kultúry a oddychu), nábrežie Ľ. Svobodu and tickets can be purchased in advance at the PKO box office on Špitálska 25 or online at www.ticketportal.sk (Sk350 per day, Sk900 for all three days; tickets on the spot cost Sk420 per day). For more information call 02/5292-5023 or visit www.bjd.sk

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