Celebrating jazz music and its unifying effect, the Istanbul Jazz Festival is set to sweep the city once more. An array of exclusive events have been planned for the 28th edition of the festival, which is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and will commence on Sept. 1 and run until Sept. 24.
Brilliant masters of this sophisticated genre of music will perform during the 24-day festival, from the four-time Grammy Award winner Angelique Kidjo, known as “Africa’s premier diva,” to the European jazz legend Stefano Di Battista. In addition to the Jazz in Parks free concert series, the popular Night Out event will be spread across different stages in Beykoz Kundura, a former shoe factory turned cultural venue on Istanbul’s Anatolian side.
The festival will organize nearly 40 concerts and events at outdoor venues in line with public health measures against COVID-19.
The 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to singer Tülay German. German, who studied under Turkish opera singer Ruhi Su in the early years of her musical career and sang the folk songs she learned with her contemporary interpretation, recorded "Burçak Tarlası" ("Vetch Field”), which is considered the first hit of Turkish pop music, in 1964. Visiting Paris in 1966, German recorded 10 records in French.
She participated in radio and television programs and festivals in many countries from Germany to Brazil and performed concerts in France's most important concert halls with artists like Charles Aznavour, Leo Ferre and the Moody Blues. She recorded the album “Tract,” written for her by Turkish musician Ilhan Mimaroğlu, in the U.S. In 1981, she was deemed worthy of the Academie Charles Cros Grand Prix du Disque award, which is considered one of the biggest awards in France, awarded to renowned figures like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix.
Her latest album is titled “Nazım Hikmet’s Saygı” (“Homage to Nazım Hikmet”), though the artist stopped performing after a concert in the Netherlands in 1987. The singer still lives in Paris, working as a writer in addition to her musical life.
The Istanbul Jazz Festival will offer a rich and varied program at venues across the city.
Nitai Hershkovits, whose talents were discovered at a young age and became a prominent figure in the jazz scene with his performances with the legendary jazz bassist Avishai Cohen in Tel Aviv, will perform on Sept. 2 with his team in Feriye. Before Hershkovits’ performance, Eylül Ergül, known for her vocal skills, will take the stage with her quartet of masters of Turkish jazz, Serdar Barçın, Ozan Musluoğlu and Ferit Odman. A concert at the intersection of jazz, folk and progressive music awaits the audience of the 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival.
One of the standout concerts of the festival will be performed by singer, actress, writer and activist Angelique Kidjo, who is also UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has her signature on the soundtracks of 18 films such as “The Lion King” and “Street Fighter.” The concert “A World Tour accompanied by the Rhythms” will be held at The Marmara Esma Sultan Mansion on Sept. 6. Kidjo will mesmerize the audience with her flamboyant costumes, high energy, impressive voice and rich melodic structures. Embracing African melodies, soul, funk, rap, samba, reggae, jazz and blues, this concert will start from Africa, make stops in the Sahara and London, and leave the listeners on the calm shores of France.
After the spellbinding performance of Kidjo, Turkish singer Melike Şahin will take the stage at Göztepe Özgürlük Park Stage on Sept. 8. After performing over 250 concerts all around the world with BaBa ZuLa for many years, Şahin began her solo career in 2017. She sang for Tony Gatlif's film “Djam,” delivering an unforgettable concert at the Cannes Film Festival before the film's world premiere. Şahin gained further acclaim with her successive singles and announced her eagerly awaited album “Merhem” (“Ointment”) last February. In her performance for the Istanbul Jazz Festival, the singer will invite listeners to seek out hope while exploring melancholy while performing songs from “Merhem.”
“A Night Dedicated to Ennio Morricone” will meet music lovers on Sept. 14 at Swissotel The Bosphorus. Stefano Di Battista, one of the leading alto saxophonists of European jazz today, met conductor and trumpet player Ennio Morricone at the turning point of his career. The saxophonist dedicates his 12-track album "Morricone Stories", which he released this spring, to Morricone. Battista and his team will commemorate Morricone, who passed away in July 2020, with a repertoire of the soundtracks he composed on the stage of the Istanbul Jazz Festival.
The quintet led by Ferid Odman, one of the prominent figures of the Turkish jazz scene, will conduct the event’s opening. The ensemble will be delving into the depths of the world of hard bop with beloved songs from the albums “Dameronia With Strings,” “Autumn in New York” and “Nommo.”
Following the night dedicated to Morricone, Turkish singer Kenan Doğulu, who has achieved memorable success throughout 28 years of his music life, will meet audiences with a brand new concert. As part of the “Swing, the Dynamism of Jazz and Kenan Doğulu” concert, the singer will perform songs from his “Ihtimaller” (“Possibilities”), the first jazz album in his career, on Sept. 15 at the Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theater. During the event, the artist will present the rearrangements of some of his popular songs by Ercüment Orkut, Can Çankaya and Bulut Gülen.
Then, famed Turkish singer Mabel Matiz will take the stage before listeners with a synth-pop evening. The concert will bring together Matiz, who played an important role in the transformation of pop music in Turkey in recent years, and Niels Broos from the Netherlands, one of the most creative musicians of recent times. In this project specially prepared for the festival, Matiz will sing his favorite songs, while Broos with energetic synth-pop arrangements will accompany him with a surprise cast. The concert of the duo, who will be on the same stage for the first time, will take place on Sept. 24 at the Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theater.
The next performance of the festival will host Arlo Parks, who won the BBC Artist of the Year Award, performing her songs on key festival stages such as Glastonbury and Latitude. Saying that the compass of her songs is poetry, the singer wants to find universal words and combine those words with notes to overcome all language barriers with emotions. While Parks makes the listeners experience hyper-specific moments through her performance at Beykoz Kundura on Sept. 10, Geeva Flava, known for demolishing the walls between genres, will also be on stage in the same evening.
Altın Gün, which combines classic Anatolian rock songs and folk songs with psychedelic and funk timbres, will be guests of the 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival with songs you can't resist dancing to. The band, which has been nominated for a Grammy, will be on stage at Vadi Istanbul on Sept. 16. Before Altın Gün’s performance, a favorite of the local independent scene Evdeki Saat will take the stage.
After Altın Gün, singer and pianist Karsu will sing the legendary works of Atlantic Records, founded by Ahmet Ertegün, one of the most important figures in the history of songwriters and record companies. During her concert at Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theater on Sept. 20, attendees will listen to Karsu’s interpretations of songs by legends of the jazz and blues worlds including Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton. With this concert, Karsu pays homage to Atlantic Records, by whom she was inspired.
Moreover, the series of concerts titled “Night Out” will feature six artists at Beykoz Kundura on the evening of Sept. 18. The performances of the artists will later be broadcast online for the viewing of the directors of the world’s foremost festivals and events.
Bringing jazz and nature together, Jazz in the Parks concerts will invite its followers of all ages to the various parks of Istanbul. The concerts will be organized over five days in five different Istanbul parks, namely the Maçka Demokrasi Park, Habitat Park, Fenerbahçe Park, Beylikdüzü Yaşam Vadisi and Sanatçılar Park. The events will feature figures from the local scene and performances by Young Jazz finalists, along with Fainscmitz who will treat the audience to a breeze from Vienna, and the American singer and musician Lucy Woodward.
Diverse events like talks, meetings, free events for children and record and book fairs will also be held as part of the 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival. You can visit the festival website for more information.
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