Cool off with some hot jazz: the 21st Istanbul Jazz Festival opened yesterday with a concert by FOURinthePOCKET, a band formed by young Istanbul-based musicians, and will run until July 16.
As in previous years – and especially recently – the festival features a wide variety of musicians from every corner of the globe whose musical styles can span beyond jazz. There’s blues, pop, world music and a fusion of all three, but for purists, artists who more traditionally fit into the jazz genre are also performing. See below for some of our highlights.
Tonight is the Turkish premiere of the composer Zülfü Livaneli’s new piece ‘Mevlana Suite – The Eternal Day’, which features Livaneli’s compositions based on the English versions of Rumi’s poetry that will be performed by the Henning Schmiedt Ensemble accompanied by a rich orchestra. The German singer Romy Camerun joins on vocals and the young Turkish musician Burcu Karadağ plays a reed instrument. The venue is likewise unique: the 16th-century Sepetçiler Kasrı (Basketmasters’ Kiosk), the only surviving pavilion from the Topkapı Palace’s Outer Yard.
Tomorrow evening, as part of the anniversary commemorating 600 years of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Poland, the Możdżer Danielsson Fresco Trio (comprised the Polish pianist Leszek Możdżer, the Swedish double bass player Lars Danielsson and the Israeli percussionist Zohar Fresco) will be joined on stage by the renowned Polish trumpeter and composer Tomasz Stańko for a night of improvised, dynamic jazz.
‘A Strange Place for Jazz’ will this year take place at the courtyard of the Istanbul High School – a strange place for jazz indeed. The performing musicians are first-rate, however, and include the Children of Light Trio formed by the world-renowned jazz pianist Danilo Pérez, the bass guitar virtuoso John Patitucci and the drummer Brian Blade, with the American bassist and composer Derrick Hodge warming up the crowd.
The headliners of the festival are Hugh Laurie perhaps better known as Dr House from the popular television series of the same name, who performs on the 9th, and the British-Georgian pop singer Katie Melua who performs on the 10th.
Other highlights include Chick Corea and Stanley Clark, two eponymous masters of modern jazz, on the 8th, and the Grammy Award-winning Beninoise singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo on the 14th, who is sure to wow audiences with her colourful costumes and commanding stage presence.
This year, the ‘Encounters with Masters’ series continues with a concert on the 16th featuring some of the most popular musicians in Turkey: the jazz vocalist Yıldız İbrahimova, the jazz guitarist Önder Focan (who is also the creative director at Nardis Jazz Club), the master trumpeter Şenova Ülker, the talented oud player Fatih Ahıskalı and the young drummer Ferit Odman, a rising musician in the Turkish jazz scene. They will be joined on stage by Salman Gambarov, one of the most important musicians of the Azerbaijani jazz scene.
Salon IKSV will also host the ‘European Jazz Club’, a series that perhaps attracts a younger crowd and is in a way more accessible. Highlights include the Turkish guitar virtuoso and composer Timuçin Şahin and the English musician John Escreet on the 9th and the Elvan Aracı Trio, featuring the silky vocals of the popular jazz songstress Dilek Sert Erdoğan and the Swedish double bass player Per-Ola Gadd on the 11th.
Main image shows Brian Blade and John Patitucci from the Children of Light Trio. Photo by Alexey Karpovich.