Iconic Jazz Stars take centre stage

  • 2015-07-02
  • By Michael Mustillo

RIGA - Jazz lovers in Riga will be spoilt rotten by an upcoming visit of a number of internationally acclaimed jazz musicians, who will be performing at the second  World Jazz Festival 2015  from 24 – 25 July.  This year’s event is being sponsored by a number of big name local business heavy weights, including Rietumu Banka, Ordo Group, and the Amber Beverage Group.

The opening concert of the World Jazz Festival 2015  will be staged at the Dome Square on the 24 July  from  3 p.m. to 6 p.m. This free public outdoor event will see  both Baltic and Russian jazz artists performing. Some of the artists taking centre stage at the Dome Square will include the well known Estonian vocalist, Sofia Rubina, whose single “Ready 4 Love” with Dj Benji Candelairo (USA) & Grammy Award nominated Dj Todd Terry Order,  has just been newly released. Rubina is a graduate of the renown Berklee College of Music,  and the Berklee Global Jazz  Institute programme, which is directed by Danilo Perez, considered one of the finest contemporary pianists and jazz composers of our era. Russian born American New York based musician Nick Levinovsky, the Latvian band “Mirage Jazz Orchestra” and many others, will also be talking centre stage at the Dome Square.

On two consecutive evenings of the 24 – 25 July things will begin to heat up to what promises to be the highlight of a summer of great jazz in the Latvian capital,  with a number of jazz legends appearing in two concerts at the 14,500 seat Arena Riga.
On the July 24, the Arena Riga welcomes the Latvian musician and trombonist Intars Busulis. During the evening, one of the festival’s main organizers - the Russian saxophonist, Igor Butman, will also perform together with the  Moscow Jazz Orchestra, which Butman founded in 1997. 

Butman’s website states that the Moscow Jazz Orchestra is currently one of the world’s greatest big bands, which has frequently toured Russia, Europe, and the USA, and has appeared at some of the world’s most prestigious jazz venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Birdland and numerous others. The New York Times has described the ensemble’s performance as  “a show of great competence and fluency.”  

The evening will also see  jazz enthusiasts entertained by the Indian-born percussionist Trilok Gurtu, whose concert will  blend  Indian traditional music with jazz, fusion and other world music genres. Gurtu is universally acknowledged by many as one of the most innovative and ground breaking percussionists on the music scene; his performances see him integrating non-musical instruments and objects such as swords, buckets and various other non-conventional elements to produce his distinctive, identifiable and unique  sound. 

The audience in Riga will also no doubt also witness Gurtu’s unique percussion signature, which involves him dipping cymbals and strings of shells into a bucket of water, with the effect of creating a shimmering musical effect.  Gurtu has performed together with such renowned  artists such as Garry Moore, John McLaughlin, Jan Garbarek and numerous others.

On the 25 July,  the great iconic bass guitarist Stanley Clarke takes centre stage at Arena Riga. Stanley Clarke is considered one of the most exciting contemporary composers and jazz musicians around, he is well known for his innovative and incontestable double bass and electric bass guitar skills which displays ferocious bass dexterity and consummate musicality, as well as for his  television and film scores.  Stanley Clarke has attained “living legend” status during his over 40-year career as a bass virtuoso.

Stanley Clarke has been praised throughout the world, receiving numerous awards, including being both a four-time “Grammy” award recipient, and “Emmy” award nominee. Clarke was Rolling Stone’s very first Jazzman of the Year and bassist winner of Playboy’s Music Award for ten straight years. He was honored with Bass Player Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and is a member of Guitar Player Magazine’s “Gallery of Greats.” In 2004 he was featured in Los Angeles Magazine as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People. Stanley Clarke has also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has several gold and platinum records to his name.  

Along with Stanley Clarke, the 25 July concert at Arena Riga will also see  the tenfold Grammy-award winners, the vocal group Take 6 closing the  festival. This American a cappella gospel music sextet are considered to be the revivers of the rhythmic blues tradition and the successors of the gospel vocal ensemble traditions.  Take 6 sings in a  contemporary R&B style, integrating jazz influences with spiritual or inspirational lyrics. The sextet has collaborated with numerous iconic artists, including Ray Charles,  Gordon Goodwin, Don Henley, Whitney Houston, Al Jarreau, Quincy Jones,  k.d. lang, Queen Latifah, Brian McKnight, Luis Miguel, Marcus Miller, Joe Sample, Ben Tankard, CeCe Winans, and Stevie Wonder.

Both concerts on the 24 and 25 July commence at 7 pm, with the doors to the Riga Arena opening at 6 p.m.
The festival’s organizers are extremely excited about their focus on education for young jazz musicians, and are arranging the World Jazz Festival 2015 headliner master classes on the 25 July  at Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music.

Further information on World Jazz Festival 2015 can be found on the festival’s website http://worldjazzfest.com/en/

Tickets may be purchased at www.bilesuserviss.lv and “Bilesu Serviss” ticket sales offices throughout Latvia.