Marcus Miller, Keith Jarrett, Morrissey and diva of neo-soul Erykah Badu are only some of the international stars of music descending on the city for this year's event, which got off to an energetic start Tuesday night at The Marmara Esma Sultan on the Bosporus shore.
Veteran Turkish jazz guitarist Neşet Ruacan received the festival's Lifetime Achievement Award during the opening gala, which was attended by many of the performers for this year's lineup. Ruacan received his award from Bülent Eczacıbaşı, the board chairman of the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (İKSV). Sixty-four-year-old Ruacan, apart from accepting his award, took to the stage once more during the gala when he joined jazz vocalist Elif Çağlar and her quintet for a surprise live performance.
Set to run through July 19 with some 50 performances at 20 different venues across the city, this year's festival will present one of its most exciting and eagerly anticipated events, Marcus Miller's “İstanbul Project,” on Thursday -- just two days after the fest's opening.
Miller, a regular performer at recent editions of the İstanbul Jazz Fest, was still keeping the details of “İstanbul Project” under wraps at Tuesday's opening gala. The 53-year-old multi-instrumentalist and composer is joined by Turkey's famous jazz fusion musician Okay Temiz, trumpeter İmer Demirer, guitarist Bilal Karaman, percussionist Burhan Öçal and clarinetist Hüsnü Şenlendirici for the project, which was commissioned by the festival. Thursday's concert at the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theater in Harbiye will mark the world premiere of “İstanbul Project.”
Festival within a festival
On Saturday, İstanbulites will celebrate jazz music on the city's streets with the third edition of Tünel Feast, the İstanbul Jazz Fest's “festival within a festival.” The jazz marathon is set to begin at 6 p.m. and continue until midnight with dozens of live performances and jazz workshops on two main outdoor stages and at numerous indoor venues across the Tünel, Galata and Şişhane quarters, including Salon, Nardis, SALT Beyoğlu, Alt and the Beyoğlu Municipal Youth Center.
The second week of the festival will kick off with Antony and the Johnsons, who will offer a symphonic take on a selection of songs from their four albums in a joint appearance with the Filarmonia İstanbul orchestra on July 9 at Cemil Topuzlu.
Other highlights on the bill are Erykah Badu's eagerly awaited first-ever Turkish appearance, set for the night of July 13 at Cemil Topuzlu, and Grammy-winning American jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding's July 16 gig at the same venue.
Another jazz great, Keith Jarrett, is scheduled to take the stage on July 18 in what will be his first İstanbul outing in 16 years. The piano great, known for his unmatched improvisations, will bring his legendary Standards Trio, in which he is joined by Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock, to his İstanbul gig at the Haliç Congress Center.
British singer Morrissey will cap off the festival with an eagerly anticipated concert on July 19 at the Cemil Topuzlu.
Tickets for the 19th İstanbul Jazz Festival are available at Biletix and at the ticket kiosk in the İKSV building in Şişhane. For more information and the full program, see http://caz.iksv.org/en.