KLAIPEDA - Don't be surprised if you see thousands of people hit the highway for the port city of Klaipeda this weekend. It's traditional for hoards of Lithuanians to head out there in late July for the Festival of the Sea, but the forthcoming International Jazz Festival is also increasingly becoming a major draw for the city. And on June 4 - 7, Klaipeda will be abuzz with the wonderful sounds of jazz, which can help put a whole new spin on strange words like "scooby-doo." Nice.
The festival starts off at 5 p.m. at Klaipeda Castle, which is probably about as exotic a setting for a jazz festival as you'll find anywhere in Europe. Vytautas Grubliauskas, the festival's director, says that the festival has become so renowned for its quality that it's now a major fixture on the international jazz festival circuit.
As usual, many of the concerts are freebies, which is possibly why the festival is such a huge draw. But then Lithuania is a mecca for free concerts. It's a wonder how it ever affords to stage them. The festival will start off in the picturesque Theater Square, and organizers are confident that even more people will attend the four-day event than last year's impressive turnout.
Organizers are also trying to make the festival appeal to as mainstream a crowd as possible. So while the goatee-bearded jazz lovers of popular myth are sure to be there in number, hopefully the musically curious will also venture out for a listen.
Concertgoers will be treated to the likes of jazzmania, the masterly music of the Jean-Jacques Milteau Quartert and the Dutch reggae band, Bash Crew. A whole range of concerts will be taking place all around the city, with the weekend's events culminating in a huge concert in Theater Square on June 6 at 7 p.m. that will feature the likes of The Jive Aces from the U.K. and the J.D. Walter Quartet from the U.S.A. and Russia. At midnight there will be a jam session at Kurpiai Jazz Club. Don't miss it, since jamming is when jazz is at its finest. The festival comes to an official close on June 7 with a concert also at Kurpiai Jazz Club at 8 p.m.
Jazz somehow seems very at home in Lithuania , and it's great to see Klaipeda attracting some of the limelight away from Vilnius for a few days. Just remember to nod your head attentively during the concerts, and occasionally say "nice" while twiddling with your chin. o
For more info: www.jazz.lt