In some form or another, this event has been jazzing up the last days of summer in Moscow for years now. However, this year the Fifth Moscow International Jazz in the Hermitage Garden festival is going to be "the most noteworthy of all the previous ones," according to festival producer Mikhail Grin. And there are at least two reasons for this, of a symbolic, not economic nature: first, that this is the fifth festival, and second, and as Grin said, more important - that this year is the 80th anniversary of Russian and Soviet jazz.
Around the world, jazzmen prefer the chaos of playing outside to the still air indoors. A saxophonist improvising on the street is something of a rarity in Russia; however, starting Aug. 23, Muscovites will have the chance to soak up the sounds of contemporary and classic jazz in one of Moscow's most pleasant centrally located green havens. Last year, Grin told LifeStyle, was a sell-out, attracting more than 4,000 connoisseurs over a two-day period. And that's not counting those jazz fans, usually students, who prefer to sit on the grass for free behind the fence surrounding the stage.
This time around, the festival is to last three days and will feature a range of styles - as well as an exhibition of Porsche photos. Plus, every evening after the shows the artists will get together for jam sessions at Restavratsiya restaurant. For the 80th anniversary of Russian jazz, the festival is bringing together all six of Russia's jazz Narodny Artists (state-acclaimed artists), most of whom play variations of classic jazz.
Saxophonist Igor Butman will perform along with his big band on Saturday, Anatoly Kroll's My iz Jazza quartet plays Sunday and another local legend, Oleg Lundstrum's jazz orchestra - the largest in the former Soviet Union - will feature classic jazz singer Deborah Brown in a Sunday night performance. Anther theme of the festival will be the ever more popular mix of Latin rhythms and jazz: flamenco jazz from Spain to finish off Friday night and Swedish ensemble Tango in Jazz, which features a native Argentinean, for Sunday.
The festival's must-sees include a septet of black musicians from Chicago that will be demonstrating the newest in avant-garde and contemporary jazz know-how. Meanwhile, legendary Grammy-winning alto saxophonist Gary Bartz - one of the most influential saxophonists of the past 30 years, who has played with the likes of Miles Davis - will be honored during the closing ceremony. Tickets to the festival cost 250 rubles and the festivities start each day at 6 p.m.