Wednesday, 26 April 2017



Bansko Jazz Festival in Bulgaria: The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music



Text by Ekaterina Petrova   
Although Bankso is still best known as Bulgaria’s biggest and most modern winter resort and a skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts’ favourite, the town – nestled in the Pirin Mountain, has also established a reputation among music lovers as the host town of one of the country’s biggest jazz festivals.

The international event’s popularity has soared through the years and its twelfth edition – scheduled to take place in the week between August 8 and 13, promises to bring an exciting combination of local and international performers and delight with music those who head to the hills. In addition to the quality and quantity of the acts, another draw for jazz lovers not just from Bulgaria, but also from the Balkans region and Western Europe, is the fact that attending all performances is free of charge.

 
Days and nights will be packed with performances for the duration of the festival and organisers claim this year boasts the most impressive line-up to date. The main programme will take place at two chief open-air venues: the main stage at Vaptsarov Square, with concerts starting at 7:30pm each evening and Stage B in front of the Bansko Royal Towers Hotel, with concerts starting at 4pm. In addition, the Mitko Rusev Jazz Band will perform every day at the Bulgaria Hotel Villa Roka between 5pm and 7pm and there will be jam sessions every night from 10:30pm until 3am at the Bulgaria Bunder pub.
 
The tradition of opening the festival with a big band will be upheld this year too –with the performance of Blagoevgrad’s big band and soloists Vasil Petrov and Mery Taneva.
 
A big band will also close the week-long music programme – the festival’s one will perform with American singer Jamie Davis (in the photograph to the left), who is known as the “chocolate baritone” due to his fine deep timbre. Davis most frequently travels as lead vocalist for the Count Basie Orchestra. His signature voice can be heard in A Time to Remember – a docudrama that won the Black American Independent Filmmakers Award.
 
The other two performances that will take place on the main stage on the festival’s opening night are the Otto Heijnic trio from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and England’s Clear Teal, who was Jazz Vocalist of the Year for 2005 and 2007 and BBC’s Singer of the Year 2006. In Bansko, along with her band, she’ll most likely be presenting parts of her last record, Get happy, with covers of all-time favourites such as “Love hurts” and “Cheek to cheek.”
 
On the festival’s second day, the main stage acts include the Maciej Sikala trio from Poland, the renowned pianist and professor Mario Stanchev and his trio from France and Keiko Borjeson and WomaJazz from Japan and Italy.
 
On August 10, Kamelia Todorova (in the photograph to the right) - one of Bulgaria’s jazz divas and one of the festival’s founders will perform, followed by Jazzex from the Ukraine and the Judy Lewis trio from Israel.
 



Renowned saxophone player Candy Dulfer (in the above photograph) will wrap up the main stage performances on August 11 with her band. In addition to Prince, Dulfer, whose music synthesizes rock and beat, blues, pop and jazz, has recorded with Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, Beyonce, Pink Floyd, Chaka Khan, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller and Alan Parsons.
 
On that evening, she will be preceded by performances by Brother Hood from Switzerland and the Four Bones Jazz Combo from Hungary.
 
On the fifth night of the festival, August 12, the main stage line-up includes: the Michaela Rabitsch and Robert Pawlik quartet from Austria, of which the former is known as the “female Chat Baker of our time” and the latter is one of Austria’s most popular bassists; Axel Zwingenberger from Germany - the best Boogie Woogie pianist in the world; and Irvin Lews Lattin and his band from the US.
 
On closing night, Jamie Davis and the festival’s big band will be followed by the Roy Powell Peak Experience Trio from Norway, who perform founder and British pianist Roy Powell’s original compositions, which are a blend of rock, funk and fusion, and the Yehya Khalil band from Egypt.
 
The acts performing on stage B at the Bansko Royal Towers include: Arabrl and Please Shut Up Band from Austria and Bulgaria on August 8; Ulrich Wangenheim Qiuntet from Germany and Bulgaria on August 9; Brother Hood from Switzerland on August 10; and Mind Trips and Brazilacoustic, both from Bulgaria, on August 11 and 12, respectively.
 
For more information on the performance and a detailed programme of the festival visit Bansko Blog

For details on getting to Bankso by air, rail and road and accommodation, visit the Route Planner section of BalkanTravellers.com
 
Read more about Bankso on BalkanTravellers.com:
 
 
Singing, Wining and Dining in Bansko

 

 

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Bansko Jazz Festival in Bulgaria: The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music

Although Bankso is still best known as Bulgaria’s biggest and most modern winter resort and a skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts’ favourite, the town – nestled in the Pirin Mountain, has also established a reputation among music lovers as the host town of one of the country’s biggest jazz festivals. Full Story