Jazz returns to Bratislava

EVERY year during three October evenings Bratislava turns into something like the swinging city of New Orleans, where visitors to bars and other venues can listen to jazz by famous as well as lesser known musicians nearly every day of the year. From October 21 to October 23 those who visit Bratislava Jazz Days (BJD) will have the chance to jive to the sounds of saxophones and trumpets, accompanied by keyboards and bass guitars, just as if they were in the French Quarter.

Trumpet player Randy Brecker, photographed by Merri CyrTrumpet player Randy Brecker, photographed by Merri Cyr (Source: Courtesy of Rock Pop Bratislava Agency)

EVERY year during three October evenings Bratislava turns into something like the swinging city of New Orleans, where visitors to bars and other venues can listen to jazz by famous as well as lesser known musicians nearly every day of the year. From October 21 to October 23 those who visit Bratislava Jazz Days (BJD) will have the chance to jive to the sounds of saxophones and trumpets, accompanied by keyboards and bass guitars, just as if they were in the French Quarter.

BJD has become a tradition in Slovakia: the festival is celebrating its 37th birthday this year. From a small, amateurish event it developed into a festival with international stature, attracting many world-famous musicians. The long-time organiser of the festival, musician Peter Lipa, says that it is not important to know all the performers or to recognise all the various styles of jazz played around the world.

“We know that people are coming because of the brand and they want us to surprise them, teach them and show them how jazz is played in the world today,” Lipa told a press conference held on October 3.

He stressed that the festival has no overall theme and this allows the programme to resemble a colourful puzzle composed of differently-shaped pieces.

Various artists from Europe, North America and the Caribbean will perform on two stages. Stage A belongs to headliners such as Polish singer Grażyna Auguścik, US singers Raúl Midón and Curtis Stigers, two Cuban piano players, Harrold López-Nussa and Chucho Valdés, US trumpet players Nicholas Payton and Randy Brecker, who will perform with the Slovak group AMC Trio, and US piano player Robert Glasper. The festival will culminate in a concert by Earth, Wind & Fire Experience featuring Al McKay.

Slovakia will also have many musicians at the festival such as The Illusions Trio and the Matúš Jakabčic CZ-SK Big Band.

While the first stage will belong to headliners known to jazz aficionados, the second stage will introduce new blood – with nine groups competing for a prize sponsored by the SPP Foundation, and the chance to play on the first stage at next year’s festival.

Stage B will also welcome an international project called JazzPlaysEurope Laboratory, sponsored by seven European countries including Slovakia. The network supports contemporary jazz by organising exchange concerts, concert tours and artists’ residencies. Slovakia is represented by saxophonist Radovan Tariška.


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