THE NINTH year of the International Dixieland Festival in Banská Bystrica, which started on May 1, fittingly runs under the title Jazz Festival of a United Europe 2004.
"This year, we have prepared a project dedicated to the mutual entry of our [neighbouring] countries into the EU, during which four festivals - in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia - start on the same day, May 1. At the same time, we are symbolically joining with other European countries through the performing musicians," organiser Ingrid Hajdučková said.
Though they all begin on the day of EU enlargement, the repertoire of the four towns from the Visegrad Four countries - Zakopane (Poland), Salgótarján (Hungary), Hradec Králové (Czech Republic), and Banská Bystrica (Slovakia) - has developed independently.
The local BB Band Dixieland Jazz Band, led by European jazz legend Jozef Karvaš, opened the festival in Banská Bystrica, welcoming Czech trumpeter Jaromír Hnilička and guitarist Milan Kašuba. Karvaš performed along with his student, jazz singer and trumpeter Jana Orlická, who is one of the few female trumpeters in Europe. The duo will also share the stage at the International Dixieland Festival in Dresden, Germany, which takes place from May 12 to 16.
The core of the Banská Bystrica festival happens on May 7 and 8 on the SNP Square. Performances by Dixieland bands from all around Slovakia will intertwine with shows by musicians from the new EU members, along with guests from Japan and the US.
The Polish Jazz Band Ball Orchestra with American singer Janice Harrington will take the stage on May 7, after 19:00. The Danish Unnerhaus Jazzband, the Austrian Dixielanders Hall, and the Hungarian Molnár Dixieland Band and All Stars will improvise to the upbeat rhythms of early jazz the next day at the festival's gala-concert at Urpín Cinema, starting at 19:00.
Open-air concerts are free; tickets to the gala concert cost Sk100.