Vilnius Jazz Festival

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The Vilnius Jazz Festival is the oldest annual jazz festival held in Vilnius, Lithuania. It provides a broad perspective on contemporary trends in jazz from all over the world. Since its founding in 1987, Vilnius Jazz has earned a reputation of a radical avant-garde festival oriented towards originality and limit-stretching creativity.[citation needed] The festival crosses and expands the stylistic boundaries of jazz and free improvised music by presenting joint projects with musicians from academic, ethnic music, rock and industrial music backgrounds.

The festival usually offers a 3-4 day programme of concerts, workshops and jam sessions featuring up to 10 different groups. The 24th edition of the Vilnius Jazz Festival will be held on 13-16 October 2011. Festival founder and producer - Antanas Gustys.

Artists and sponsors[edit]

The Vilnius Jazz Festival programme features international jazz talent alongside the best of Lithuanian talent. The festival has included artists such as The Zawinul Syndicate (USA), Sonny Simmons-Oliver Lake Quartet (USA), Courtney Pine Group (UK), Billy Cobham Band (USA), Arthur Blythe Quartet (USA), Steve Lacy (USA), Leroy Jenkins (USA), Viacheslav Ganelin (Israel), Otomo Yoshihide (Japan), Fred Frith (UK), Carlos Ward Quartet (USA), Defunkt (USA), Django Bates (UK), Cinematic Orchestra (UK), Iva Bittová (Czech Republic), Myra Melford Quartet (USA), Cuong Vu Trio (USA), Willem Breuker Kollektief (NL), Marc Ducret Trio (FR) and many others. Many international projects have been organised through close collaboration with international cultural institutions and foundations, such as Goethe-Institut, British Council, Swedish Institute, Pro Helvetia, US Arts International, and the Japan Foundation.

Cultural significance[edit]

Attracting an audience of around 7000 each year, Vilnius Jazz has played a formative role for several generations of jazz fans. It has also helped develop local players who have then moved onto performing in other European venues and international jazz groups. Vilnius Jazz is also inextricably linked with the development of a distinctive Vilnius jazz school. An important cultural signpost in Eastern Europe, the festival nurtures and promotes the living tradition of improvised music in Lithuania. In 2005, it became a member of the Europe Jazz Network.

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