Jazz luminaries flock to sunny Saulkrasti for annual festival

Take note – story published 7 years ago

From July 18 to July 23 the Saulkrasti Jazz festival will, for the nineteenth time, see the sunny seaside town of Saulkrasti drown in waves of sound. The festival famously features workshops for aspiring musicians, interspersed with performances by world-renowned virtuosos. 

Among the main acts this year are a talented young jazz drummer, a jazz orchestra from the US along with international acts featuring Latvians studying in the West, reported Latvian Radio's Māra Rozenberga Monday.

Part of the cream of younger-generation Latvian jazz musicians makes up the Coolmans Report ensemble. They are Berkeley graduates who started their way as musicians at the Rīga Dome Choir School and at workshops in the selfsame festival they're re-visiting as a star act now.

Bass player Sintija Grigorjeva claims that Saulkrasti Jazz proved pivotal to her musical career.

"It's indescribable... the inspiration you can get within a week, not only from the information that the teachers give... the main thing is that you're together with others who think like you, you step outside the routine. Second come the teachers that come there," she says.

"One sentence, perhaps just a few words they say can change everything. [Lithuanian sax player] Ķēstutis Vaiginis was, for me, the one of the people who planted the thought, that you can do more than you think, that you can get to America," Grigorjeva says.

The Sinkope quartet, lead by sax player and composer Toms Rudzinskis, will join the constellation of Latvia's newest jazz talents playing at Saulkrasti. Their drummer Mareks Logins won the last year's festival award. Among others who'll take the stage are the Latvian-Estonian project Vibes.

Guests from Serbia, Lithuania, Estonia, the US and elsewhere will entertain at Saulkrasti throughout the week. One of the special guests this year is Hungarian drummer Gábor Dörnyei, considered one of the brightest drummers in contemporary jazz. 

"It's worth hearing records where [Gábor Dörnyei] participating. It's superb music," says Māris Jonovs, producer of the festival.

"I suggest both the Saturday concert and follow the concerts throughout the week where, I hope, he'll take the stage in a jam session. It's the magic of Saulkrasti - that you can bring musicians together on the stage, musicians who would not meet if it weren't for the festival," Jonovs says.

While festival director Raimonds Kalniņš says the festival will culminate in the Saturday concert where workshop participants will perform at the Minhauzena unda venue. Kalniņš told Latvian Radio Classic that the festival actually sprang up as an idea to improve pupils' chops in the summer.

Saulkrasti Jazz will start on the evening of July 18 and conclude on July 23. 


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