After winning the title of Europe’s Best Small Festival in 2019, thus gaining international recognition, Jazz in the Park is ready for a new edition, with an eclectic and mature lineup headlined by one of the most representative musicians of contemporary jazz. We’re talking about Kamasi Washington (US), considered to be “our generation’s torchbearer for progressive, improvisational music” and also the jazz voice of Black Lives Matter.
Together with him, singer-songwriter and guitarist Anna Calvi (UK), also known for writing the musical score for the fifth season of Peaky Blinders, and jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant (US), winner of three Grammy Awards, will perform for the first time in Romania, on the festival’s Main Stage. Jazz in the Park 2020 will also bring Omar Sosa & JazzyBIT, with a project especially made for this edition of the festival.
During the four days of Jazz in the Park (June 25-28), the audience will get to see Tatran (IL), Bariș Demirel (TR), Arcuș Trio (RO), Bogdan Vaida (RO), Teodor Pop – Solo Piano (RO), The Mono Jacks – Acoustic (RO) and Implant pentru Refuz – Acustic (RO) as well, these being just a part of the entire lineup that will liven up the eighth edition of the festival in the Central Park of Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
“This year, we went for a really special lineup, and we hope the audience will see this. Our wish is to be competitive on a European level and to have a 5-star lineup. We didn’t focus on how popular these artists are in Romania, but on what their contribution is to 2020’s musical landscape, globally speaking.
Kamasi Washington is maybe the most talked-about jazz musician of the moment, Rolling Stone Magazine said that the last Anna Calvi album is the album of the year, and Cécile McLorin Salvant won three Grammys for the Best Jazz Vocal Album over the past five years. It’s a lineup that is well connected to the musical present and we know we took a pretty high risk, but this has been our goal since 2012, when we first started thinking about Jazz in the Park.
Moreover, the collaboration between Omar Sosa and JazzyBIT is going to be something exceptional. We built this bridge between a Romanian jazz band and an artist and pianist renowned for his talent internationally. This might be one of the most important contributions we’ve brought to Romanian jazz music”, said Alin Vaida, founder and director of the Jazz in the Park Festival.
The 2020 edition will open with the Kamasi Washington concert. In 2015, when he released his LP, The Epic, the American sax player was looked at as a revelation for modern jazz, a torchbearer for progressive, improvisational music. Combining jazz with elements of hip-hop and classic soul, Kamasi Washington, together with his 10-piece band, The Next Step, managed to go beyond the standard definition of jazz music and reach a young audience, offering them the chance to discover music from a complete new perspective.
His unique style brought him collaborations with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, John Legend, Run the Jewels, Ibeyi and, recently, Florence and The Machine. The Epic was followed by Heaven and Earth, in 2018. Kamasi Washington won numerous “best of” awards from Pitchfork, NPR, Variety, GQ, MOJO and Complex, to name a few. Heaven and Earth also inspired the creation of the movie As Told to G/D Thyself, directed by Kamasi Washington together with cu Jenn Nkiru, Bradford Young, Terence Nance and Marc Thomas.
Anna Calvi has been revered in the British music industry since she emerged in 2011, due to her impeccable qualities as a performer, instrumentalist and songwriter. She was nominated and won several awards for her work at the Mercury Prize, BBC Sound of 2011, UK festival Awards, European Festival Awards, Rolling Stone International Music Award, Music Producers Guild Awards, Q Awards and many more.
Her third album, Hunter, reflects on women and the limitations that come with the societal labeling of a gender, be it masculine or feminine, and it also depicts the power to free oneself of these norms and labels. The woman that Anna Calvi reveals with every song doesn’t fit one world or another. She stands at the edge of both femininity and masculinity, being at the same time vulnerable and yet extremely powerful.
Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, winner of three Grammys, is a special figure on the classical jazz scene. She was noticed for her precious talent in 2010, when she won the first place at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and her career took over ever since, bringing her the admiration and acclaim of critics and jazz lovers alike. The New York Times named her “the finest jazz singer to emerge in the last decade”, words confirmed by the awards Salvant has received over the past few years.
Four out of five of her albums received a Grammy nomination, and the last three (For One to Love, Dreams and Daggers and The Window) got her the Best Jazz Vocal Album Award in 2016, 2018 and 2019 respectively. Her sensitive music that combines elements of jazz, blues, folk and musical, helped Cécile McLorin Salvant win the hearts of many music listeners across the world.
The last evening of the festival will bring Omar Sosa and JazzyBIT on the Main Stage, with a special project made for this year’s edition of Jazz in the Park, meant to bring together two musical cultures that, although they seem to be completely different, they both have an infinite passion for improvisation and jazzy rhythms.
Omar Sosa is a Cuban artist and performer who won the appreciation of jazz lovers everywhere. His music is a fusion of styles, from Latin jazz and traditional African music, to avant-garde improvisations, classical music and more. Four of his albums received Grammy nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album (Sentir, Mulatos, Eggun) and Best Contemporary World Music Album (Across the Divide: A Tale of Rhythm & Ancestry).
JazzyBIT is an energetic jazz trio from Timișoara, Romania, that proposes a combination of jazz and rock, sometimes scattered with blues, Latin and funk. Teodor Pop (piano, keyboards), Mihai Moldoveanu (bass) and Szabó Csongor-Zsolt (drums) are highlighted by the funky rhythms, the close artistic connection between the three adding a rock attitude to the dynamic and vibrant harmonies.
For the second time at Jazz in the Park, Tatran is an instrumental trio of Tamuz Dekel, Dan Mayo (named “Best New Drummer” in 2017) and Offir Benjaminov. The three sing together since 2011, and their music, a mix of post-rock, modern jazz and classical music, manages to depict an equally beautiful and disturbing universe. Their debut album, Shvat (2014), reached the Top Seller charts on platforms such as iTunes or Bandcamp in the instrumental, post-rock and jazz categories. Since then, the band has evolved constantly, coming to form an eclectic and experimental style that has brought them international recognition.
Bariș Demirel, the talented trumpeter on the alternative music scene in Istanbul, brings to life a style in which different musical influences can be found, from rock, jazz, hip-hop to traditional Turkish and Middle Eastern music. Using digital and analog equipment in a genuine way and exploring different ways of expression helped him stand out on the contemporary jazz scene, bringing him numerous collaborations and participation in international festivals. His latest album is called Fail-Play (2018).
In addition to these musicians, the Jazz in the Park 2020 lineup will be complemented by the winning bands of the International Jazz in the Park Competition – the 6th edition, competition that takes place on May 1-3, 2020, in Iulius Park Cluj-Napoca, as well as by other national and international jazz artists.
All concerts at the festival are free. The audience is encouraged and has the opportunity to support the festival and its cultural projects through the Jazz in the Park Fund.