Friday November 30, 2012
From DownBeat Magazine
Belgrade Shifts to Young and Impressive Program
By: Josef Woodard
A brief history of the Belgrade Jazz Festival is helpful in understanding its uniqueness, importance and formidable spirit. Founded in 1971 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia—a country whose status as a buffer zone between the West and the Eastern Bloc allowed for a healthy jazz trafficking—the festival went on hiatus from 1991 to 2005. A dramatic comeback in the past seven years has placed the fest squarely in the ranks of programs to look out for during the European/Scandinavian autumn circuit.
For the 2012 edition on Oct. 25–28, the festival, coined by seasoned Serbian jazz journalist Vojislav Pantic and ambitious program manager Dragan Ambrozic, grappled with the common bugaboo in festival culture and the arts in general: budget cuts. On the upside, the shift from high-priced ticket items, including guitarist Pat Metheny and saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Charles Lloyd, has led to a pair of exciting American acts: trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist Joe Lovano’s compelling “Sound Prints” group, and a band led by mature-beyond-his-years trumpeter dynamo Ambrose Akinmusire. Both sets, predictably, were among the festival high points, while the “greatest discovery at the festival” award went to the remarkable, madly witty, fresh and flexible American band Mostly Other People Do The Killing.
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