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Jazzing it up in Lithuania's 'New Orleans'

  • 2007-07-11
  • By Karina Juodelyte-Moliboga

HORN BLOWER: The opening ceremony of this year's festival will be held at the Klaipeda cruise ship terminal.

KLAIPEDA - There's a darned good reason Klaipeda is called the New Orleans of Lithuania, and here's a hint: it's got nothing to do with hurricanes or Mardi Gras. That's right, we're talking about jazz, and this July 12 - 15 will see the city bopping once again to jazz music from all over the world as the International Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival makes its annual return.

Over the past few years this festival has marked the beginning of the summer season for the city. But this year jazz lovers had to wait a bit 's organizers decided to delay the event from early June to mid-July with the hope of better weather and the possibility of luring in a few more jazz stars. As for the weather they can make no promises, but they've lined up some great jazz guests this year including such famous performers as Maceo Parker, Randy Crawford, Joe Sample and Sugar Blue, to name a few.
When the International Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival first came into being in 1994, it mainly featured Lithuanian musicians. By now, however, the festival has developed to the point where organizers are able to attract the greats from the U.S.A., Italy, Germany, Russia, Latvia and other countries.

Of course, Lithuanian jazz still has a place in the festival, and the event's underlying motto, "good music for good people," hasn't changed one bit. Among other things, that motto means all the concerts in Klaipeda have been 's and continue to be 's free of charge, offering a rare chance to hear expert jazz musicians and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere without paying a penny.
In addition to the big-name concerts on the main stage, organizers promise even more entertainment. Photo exhibitions focusing on the Lithuanian jazz scene, a bouquet of hot air balloons and a jazzy parade through the city streets will help maintain good moods, even if the rain strikes again.
The festival will also reach Vilnius and Palanga, bringing a bit of jazz to those who can't make it to Klaipeda to experience the full-fledged event. And those who want to participate from the comfort of their own home will be able to hear all that jazz online 's organizers will be broadcasting all the performances in real-time via the festival's Web page.

Despite all these innovations, the festival's favorite old tradition 's the all-night jam session in Klaipeda 's is  still going strong. Listening to good music and dancing under the starry sky is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.
So take your umbrella just in case, put your good mood in your backpack and head out to Lithuania's port city to listen to some great, professional jazz.

International Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival
July 12 - 15
Full program and real-time
broadcast: www.jazz.lt