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World Jazz Festival Will Be Held in Riga for the Third Time

15-Apr-2016 / Charity & Sponsorship As announced by the organisers, this year the holiday of jazz – World Jazz Festival – is coming to Riga for the third time. The festival was started in the capital of Latvia in summer 2014 and since then it has been organically included in the summer calendar of cultural events of Riga and Jurmala.

This successful product of cooperation between the Igor Butman Music Group and the Arkady Ukupnik Production Centre, with the traditional support of Rietumu Bank, has been favoured by Riga residents and numerous visitors who spend the summer at the Gulf of Riga.

This year the festival will be held on 28 – 29 July – at the very peak of the season, when for several weeks Riga becomes a really multicultural European centre, where one can hear Finnish, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, German, English and, certainly, Russian speech in the streets.

Similarly to last year, the festival will be opened with a bright jazz parade of musicians in the very heart of the Old Town – at Dome Square and an open-air concert in the evening, which has gathered together thousands of residents and guests of the city during previous festivals. The festival programme also includes master classes at Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music for young performers and students, performances of world stars in the famous Arena Riga concert hall, which has been the venue for a NATO summit, Ice Hockey World Championship, concerts of many world stars of show business, as well as night after-parties in Jurmala and jam sessions of the event participants.

World Jazz Festival 2016 is already the third in succession. The first one took place two years ago and enjoyed big success at once, not only with Latvian jazz connoisseurs, but also with those who had not been well familiar with jazz music and culture before. Throughout the entire history of the festival, its organisers note high interest in it from abroad. Thus, the project has become international due to the composition not only of its performers, but also its actual audience.

The programme of this year has already been announced and it includes concerts with the participation of key figures of jazz music. Thus, it is already known that on the opening day the very famous soul singer from Italy Mario Biondi, Igor Butman Quartet, Sammy Miller and the Congregation, pianist Oleg Akkuratov, a singer Yaroslava Simonova will please the audience with their performances.

The next day will start with the musical “breakfast with the festival” and in the evening winners of two prestigious Grammy Prizes will perform in Arena Riga: the legend of African music – trumpeter from South Africa Hugh Masekela and American pianist Bob James.

The musical career of Hugh Masekela started when he was still in his teens, playing in street bands and clubs of Johannesburg and Cape Town. In 1959 he organised his band Jazz Epistels – the first black band in South Africa, recording their first jazz album. Later he created his Chisa Records label and released plenty of records, where he mixed jazz with African pop music in different proportions. And, still, he returned to African folklore, establishing the Union Of South African Band orchestra and performing in London. Afterwards, he returned to Africa, where he keeps on giving big and mass concerts, each of which becomes a special event on the continent.

During the two years of its existence, the World Jazz Festival has proven to be one of the key events of the high summer season in Latvia. Due to this event, Latvia has been visited by stars of world jazz such as the winner of two Grammy Prizes – the famous singer Cassandra Wilson, one of the most popular European jazzmen Till Brönner, American pianist Dave Grusin, singer Fantine, Gino Vannelli from Canada, a legend of jazz rock and fusion – guitarist Lee Ritenour, Stanley Clarke, the eminent vocal band Take 6 – winner of 10 Grammy Prizes, the world recognised saxophonist Igor Butman, who is also the organiser of the festival, Arkady Ukupnik, Latvian stars, including Intars Busulis, and well-known jazzmen from Russia, the USA, Australia, the Netherlands, Estonia and other countries.

As with every big business, the history of Riga Festival starts with a legend. Arkady Ukupnik and Igor Butman met in one of London’s bars and, among other things, started considering what the ideal jazz holiday meant for them and where such could be organised… These considerations between the two became momentous, similarly to the meeting of Nemirovich-Danchenko and Stanislavsky at Slavianski Bazaar, following which Moscow Art Theatre appeared, and the festival has taken its current shape, has become international, and has found support from Rietumu Bank, which is well-known in Latvia for its extensive charity activities in the field of culture.

“World Jazz Festival has “contaminated” Riga with its drive and rhythms, granting new impressions to the Latvian public. Throughout the two days of the festival, Riga forgot its habitual steady rhythm of life and started living in the rhythms of jazz. We hope that also this year the stars of jazz will present us with the music of freedom,” noted Arkady Ukupnik.

Jazz, as a style of music, appeared on the border of the 19th and the 20th centuries, as a result of the synthesis of elements of two musical cultures: European and African. For jazz, improvisation is characteristic, the main role is given to rhythm, and when a vocal appears, it must be expressive. It contains melodious accents which create the feeling of a wavelike movement; jazz is also an orchestra, consisting of predominantly wind, percussion and noise instruments intended for performing such music. And besides, it means intelligence and freedom, including freedom of thought.

“I gladly note that the World Jazz Festival adds another bright accent and a pleasant tradition to the cultural life of Latvia. It is very important for Riga, being one of the events that attracts numerous connoisseurs of music and tourists and works for the international recognition and reputation of the capital of Latvia. This music has its own special audience, as jazz always means freedom, individuality, bright and expressive tones, impressive melodies and lasting pleasure,” said Member of the Rietumu Bank Council Alexander Gafin.

Eleonora Gailisha
Mass Media and Public Relations
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