37th Skopje Jazz Festival kicks off today

The 37th Skopje Jazz Festival, which kicks off Thursday, is focused on contemporary jazz. The musicians scheduled to perform are coming especially for the festival and their concerts, with the exception of David Murray’s, are not part of tours. This is the main characteristic of the festival’s 37th edition, which makes it different from past editions.

“Jazz, too, has its own transformations and in recent years, the trend in jazz is improvisation and creative music. Hence, the programme is more difficult relaying mostly in improvisation. And for this array of performances we have the right people,” Oliver Belopeta, Director of the Skopje Jazz Festival, told a news conference Monday revealing details about the festival.

The 37th Skopje Jazz Festival until Oct. 21 will offer exclusive jazz performances by world-famous artists.

This year’s festival lineup includes one of UK’s most innovative pianists and composers, Alexander Hawkins, who will give a jazz piano recital at the Macedonian Opera and Ballet on Oct. 18.

Next, saxophonist David Murray and his quartet will share the stage with New York writer, rapper and slammer Saul Williams. Their joint project “Blues for Memo” is based on their common political and poetic discourse as well as their powerful musicality.

Also on Oct. 18, at the Youth Cultural Center (MKC), US-born and Brazil-based experimental jazz guitarist Arto Lindsay will perform together with dynamic Norwegian jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love.

On Oct. 19, festival-goers will have a chance to enjoy “Reflections and Meditations on Monk” (2017) performed live by trumpet player, multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith.

Later the same night, the trio Harriet Tubman, formed in 1998 and named after the heroic African-American slave who risked her life to escape from slavery and help more than 300 others to do the same, will present their signature fusion of soul, rock, jazz, and blues.

Sonic Youth founder Thurston Moore will play MKC on Oct. 19.

An enduring icon of the alternative rock scene, Moore is also involved with publishing and poetry and teaches writing at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, a school founded by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman in 1974.

Oct. 21 is set aside for female artists.

Danish saxophonist Mette Rasmussen will play her “razor sharp, volatile and deeply textured music […] described as a ‘head full of ideas,'” and her one-hour concert will be followed by a performance by groundbreaking Norwegian ensemble of improvising vocalists Trondheim Voices.

Also at the MOB, Portuguese trumpeter, improviser and composer Susana Santos Silva will play in trio formation with Dutch saxophone/clarinet player and composer Ab Baars and Chicago-based drumming legend Hamid Drake.

Mopo, an all-female punk-jazz trio of sax, bass and drums from Finland, which All About Jazz has listed among their “15 European Jazz Musicians You Need To Know About,” will round off the all-female festival day at MKC at midnight.

To celebrate his career spanning 30 years, Macedonian musician Toni Kitanovski will close the festival by promoting his Big City Scare album released with his latest project, the Panda 5 jazz quintet.

This year’s poster for the festival was designed by graphic designer Jana Misheva.


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