MOL Jazz Festival in Budapest, September 17-21.

The MOL Jazz Festival is the most significant event in the Budapest jazz calendar. This year sees the sixth massive roundup in the Hungarian capital of some of Europe’s most interesting musicians. As always, the 9th District of Budapest famed for its lively and friendly sidewalk cafés plays host to the festival. The Big Tent raised among delightully dilapidated old riverside warehouses (Közraktár) and the jazz-boat anchored at the Nehru Embankment will serve as the main venues, although the opening and the final concerts will be staged at Budapest’s state-of-the-art Palace of Arts (MÜPA). However, for those who crave more music after the main events, they can gorge themselves on high quality jazz, free of charge, in the informal setting of the Ráday Street cafés (Fotocella; Jaffa; Paris, Texas; If, Fecske) as well as at the Pinceszínház (Cellar Theatre), the Sanyi és Aranka Theatre and at the Hotel Ibis.

The Festival naturally features the giants of Hungarian jazz, it stages unique productions that join gifted local musicians with foreign jazz stars and it also serves as a springboard for our incredibly talented youngsters. One of the declared aims of the MOL Jazz Festival Budapest is to put Hungarian jazz into a European context. It hopes to achieve this by the aforementioned international workshops and by acquainting domestic audiences with the varied and vibrant European jazz scene.
With the choice of venues widening year by year, one can enjoy practically the whole gamut of jazz during the festival, from traditional mainstream acts right through to modern experimental music. One of the new venues will be the MOL Jazz Lounge, a tent catering specifically for young audiences receptive to jazz. The Jazz Lounge will open in the morning but between 19:00 and 22:00 it will feature some of our most outstanding DJs.

The curtain-raiser to the festival will be a concert by the Modern Art Orchestra playing compositions of two highly original progressive musicians, Kristóf Bacsó and Szabolcs Oláh and featuring two outstanding soloists of the new generation, saxophonist Gábor Bolla and guitar-player Márton Fenyvesi. One of Europe’s most unique jazz legends, the French clarinetist Louis Sclavis will show yet another facet of his wide-ranging talents by presenting live the sound-track he composed for the silent movie, Dans la nuit.

The festival’s special workshops will bring you the great favourite of French jazz critics, vocalist Gabor Winand, the virtuoso Armenian-Hungarian accordionist David Yengibarjan, the progressive fusion guitarist, Tibor Eichinger, the unique guitar sound of Gábor Gadó and Indo-jazz violinist Zoltán Lantos’ Mirrorworld augmented by Norwegian guitar-player Eivind Aarset.

In the Big Tent and on the jazz-boat the festival’s tone will be set, as ever, by open minded, innovative European bands the most outstanding of which will be Dave Stapleton Quintet from Britain, Jazzkamikaze from Denmark, the Juhani Aaltonen Trio from Finland, the Heinz Sauer-Michael Wollny Duo from Germany and the Trio Grande from Belgium. The quartet led by Austrian sax-player Wolfgang Puschnig will be given extra flavour by the inventions of American bass-guitarist Jamaaladeen Tacuma. One of the highlights of the festival will be the appearance of the magnetic African-American drummer Rashied Ali, one-time sideman of Archie Shepp, Don Cherry and many others who will be fronting his own quintet.

There will be several concerts highlighting the best of our brilliant young players, such as by the Plastic Septet or by trumpeter Gábor Subicz, winner on his instrument of the audience prize at this year’s jazz talent contest organised by Hungarian Radio.

At last year’s festival the Viktor Tóth Quartet presented live and to standing ovation the material of their then brand new album that was voted “Jazz record of 2007” by the critics of Hungary’s most prestigious music magazine, Gramofon. The album Climbing with mountains went on to earn serious international plaudits. As part of this year’s festival, three consecutive evenings from 18th to 20th September the quartet including Viktor Tóth on saxophone, Hamid Drake on drums, Mátyás Szandai on bass and Ferenc Kovács on trumpet and violin will record their new album live at the Take Five jazz club.

For a detailed program, check out the homepage of the festival.

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