The Athens Jazz Festival, Greece’s best-known jazz festival, is back at Technopolis City of Athens, from May 22 to May 29, presenting an international line-up mirroring the absolute beyond concrete music limits character of jazz.
The city’s longest-running music event, the standard appointment of jazz fans in Athens, is organized for the 22nd year, with free entrance, allowing Athenians and visitors to the city to enjoy live renowned artists and emerging bands from Greece and abroad performing on the Technopolis main stage in 21 concerts, making the festival one of the most diverse in recent years.
As tradition demands, the first day of the Athens Jazz is dedicated to the Greek jazz scene, presenting the three Greek bands chosen by the festival’s artistic committee.
On Monday (May 22), the promising Thomas Mitrousis Quartet kicks off as the festival’s new music proposal, with a unique sound mixture ranging from modern jazz to classical and post-rock music. He is followed by the Nefeli Fasouli Quintet, which stood out in the Jazz+ category as it masterfully combines the tradition of African-American jazz with Greek folk music. Finally, the Spiral Trio, one of our country’s most important jazz trios with international status and visibility, will close the first day as the official Greek participation of the festival.
The international program starts on Tuesday (May 23), with the multi-award-winning Hungarian singer and songwriter Veronika Harcsa who, with her exceptional singing voice, awakens a wide range of emotions with sounds from both contemporary and classic jazz, assisted by the guitarist Bálint Gyémánt. She is succeeded by the young Belgian bassist Jonathan Collin-Bouhon who, with his jazz pieces and compositions not limited to the genre, comes with his musicians to present fresh melodies with dreamy timbre and covers of classical pieces. Next in line is Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, the group that deservedly represents the rich Norwegian jazz scene. They released their debut album on the iconic ECM label last year and will enchant us with a highly melodic and improvisational acoustic live.
On Wednesday (May 24), the dynamic quartet of AJS Quartet (Albanian Jazz Society), the first Albanian participation in the festival’s history, opens the concert with Balkan sounds and rhythms. Next, the most famous jazz group of our neighbouring country will pass the baton to the Rembrandt Trio, the group of the Dutch pianist Rembrandt Frerichs with their wide range of music reaching up to the music cultures of the Arab world. Next is the explosive Tygroo band from the Czech Republic. Their wind instruments and percussion will take us on an unpredictable musical journey, where traditional Balkan and Jewish sounds meet funk, hip hop, disco, dubstep and electro-pop.
On Thursday (May 25) the festival welcomes pianist Joel Lyssarides, the rising star of the Swedish and the wider European jazz scene, who steadily walks the path of narrative, melodic jazz with his trio. The Danes I Think You’re Awesome are next to present their musical horizons. From Scandinavian progressive ambient or straightforward folk to African rhythms or classical jazz form, each album always hides something different. Finally, representing Switzerland, the legendary Erik Truffaz, with the 30-year performance artist, one of the most important figures of contemporary jazz internationally, shares with the audience his great straight jazz, hip hop, drum ‘n’ bass and world echoes in a live show.
On Friday (May 26) Quintedo from Cyprus, the new group of saxophonist Marios Charalambous, will cover the entire jazz spectrum, just before the rising Candlelight Ficus from Austria lures the audience into a feelgood and highly uplifting musical journey with unstoppable groove, strong pop melodies and apparent influences from Vulfpeck to John Mayer through Michael Jackson. Last but not least, the Italian Raphael Gualazzi, a singer, pianist and composer who brought his country back to the popular Eurovision Song Contest. Gualazzi passes flawlessly from jazz to blues, both in their traditional and most modern forms, while maintaining the tradition of Italian pop songs.
On Saturday (May 27) the audience will welcome the German artist KID BE KID, a phenomenon of Berlin’s modern, polymorphic music scene: she sings and beatboxes at the same time, being a virtuoso in piano or electronic keyboards, while with her unique stage presence, she sets up an amazing show. The French OZMA are next to walk onto the stage with their explosive jazz that knows no aesthetic barriers, flirting comfortably with rock or traditional music with open horizons and electronic landscapes. The trio of Spanish pianist Daniel García Diego comes next, heralding the bright future of European jazz, mixing musical streams such as jazz and flamenco, classical and folk Spanish music, as well as rock and electronic music in a way that is always creatively exciting and aesthetically clean.
Sunday (May 28) begins with the experienced saxophonist Maxime Bender from Luxembourg. With a wide range of contemporary and improvisational melodic jazz, soul and rock influences, the music world of Maxime Bender’s ‘Universal Sky’ is not trapped in restrictive labels. Then comes Israeli pianist Guy Mintus who creatively blends his Middle Eastern musical roots with classical and jazz forms and styles, creating a distinctive sonic blend. Finally, the British Jackson Mathod, trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and singer, will focus on a euphoric jazz fusion, uplifting the spirits.
This year, the Athens Jazz experience is complemented by a series of side events inside and outside the Technopolis.
The festival attendants will be able to enjoy the photo exhibition of the METAPolis team, the rich, nomadic market of Meet Market and the wide range of Vinyl Market records.
As the Industrial Gas Museum celebrates its 10th anniversary, the museum spaces will be open to the public (18:00-20:00), with free admission.
This year, the club program of the Athens Jazz in the neighbouring Gazarte is unique. First, the iconic composer and musician Roy Ayers will perform for the last time in our country on Tuesday (May 23), as part of the ‘Farewell Tour’. Next, the Kosmos Jazz Party on Saturday (May 27) presents the sweeping Jerome Kaluta for an uplifting live that will precede the highly danceable DJ set by the famous producers of Kosmos 93.6. Finally, unsurpassed jazz conductor Billy Cobham will celebrate on Monday (May 29), the 50th anniversary of the release of his legendary album ‘Spectrum’, ideally closing this year’s festival.
More information on the parallel events program of the 22nd Athens Jazz will be announced soon.
For more information check directly at official Athens Jazz Festival website.