Black Sea Jazz festival ends on a high note
The fifth annual Black Sea Jazz Festival brought an unprecedented amount of music enthusiasts to Batumi from July 19 until 24. Those six days of the festival attracted and amused locals, tourists, reporters, musicians and their fans alike by offering them a rich musical program and diverse genres.
“Without being modest I should admit that a jazz event of such scale has never taken place in Georgia,” said Michael Giorgadze, Director of Eastern Promotion, the company which organized the event and which organizes Jazz festivals in Georgia.
“Any European or US festival would be proud of the names that performed in Batumi. Not to mention the culmination of the program with Macy Gray’s performance. Both from a technical aspect and from an organizational point of view, the Black Sea Jazz Festival was a big success,” he added.
Two features which distinguished this year’s festival from previous ones was that it offered free performances in the streets and there were an unprecedented number of participants - more than 150 musicians from 11 countries, more than 20 bands and more than 40 performances.
Starting from classical jazz, those attending the festival enjoyed several genres of music- funk, pop-blues, gospel, reggae, electronic jazz experiments and even street performances by a German Brass Band who entertained passersby.
The London Community Gospel Choir, comprised of 20 artists, was a novelty at the jazz festival and convinced the pleasantly surprised audience that chants can be lively, dynamic, amusing and free.
The prominent part, however, took place the last two days of the festival on July 23-24. This could truly be termed the VIP days of the festival where Stanley Jordan, the Yellowjackets and Macy Gray provided unforgettable performances.
Although it was raining heavily when the Yellowjackets and Stanley Jordan Trio took the stage outside, the audience did not even think to leave the Piazza. The truly memorable and incredible improvisation of these master artists were worth bearing the soaking rain coming down on the crowd: The love of music defeated the foul weather that day.
However, it was Macy Gray who made the festival’s finale a great one. An incredible number of listeners flooded the Piazza and a long, tiresome line stood outside with people trying to claim a spot in the audience as early as possible. Reportedly, tickets and chairs had to be added to allow for every enthusiast to attend the show.
Macy managed to shock and surprise even her most devoted fans during her unforgettable and lively performance. She and her band were beckoned for an encore three times by her rabid supporters in the audience. The cheers and cries of the audience were so loud that they could be heard from a long proximity.
Macy, who was barely aware of Georgia’s existence before she arrived, was tweeting: “On the way to Batumi, Georgia. Performing at the Black Sea Festival. Did anybody know Georgia was a country?” Her last impression of Georgia on Twitter after the show reads: “Batumi, Georgia is a great lil’ place. The fans were the greatest ever - I will never forget last night’s show. Thank you.”
The festival’s Georgian performers included Beka Gochiashvili and his Septet, Bacha Mdzinarashvili and his Jazz Quintet, Levan Chichua and Space Jam, Ilusha Tsintsadze, Tbilisi Big Band, T. Blues Mob and others.
Fans of electronic music could also find something to their taste in the festival program. Another highlight included Lithuanian Brassbastardz, US project Logic and the very impressive Lena Gehner & Alexey Popov project.
By Salome Kobalava