Nisville Jazz Festival
Nisville is an annual summer music festival in the Ancient Fortress of Niš, Serbia. From the festival’s very beginning, its concept has been based on presenting the ‘traditional’ jazz forms together with their fusion with the ethnic tradition from the different parts of the world, especially from the Balkans.
The jazz festival tradition in Niš, initiated in 1981, and terminated in 1991, was renewed at the end of 1994 thanks to the producer and economist who specializes in cultural management, Ivan Blagojević, theatre director by vocation. The first manifestation, entitled “International Nišville Jazz Festival” was held in January 1995. From the very beginning, in addition to the “more traditional” forms of jazz, the concept of the festival has primarily been founded on the fusion of this genre with ethnic traditions of various parts of the world, especially the Balkans, and the venue, with the exception of two editions, (owing to space rental issues) was the large hall of “Klub Vojske” (Army Club), with the capacity of 800 seats.
Ever since the start, the Festival has established cooperation with cultural centers and embassies of the United States of America, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Germany, whose musicians have significantly participated at this manifestation and the names of the participants increasingly became greater: Reggie Workmen, Jimmy Cobb, Philip Catherine, Aria Hendricks, Miles Griffith, Denise Jannah, Bemshie Shearer etc. Based on the ideas of Ivan Blagojević, Nišville has frequently had programs involving different musicians (who had often not been acquainted with one another by that time) forming the same bands, including the performance by Šaban Bajramović with jazz musicians from Serbia, Bulgaria and Germany, followed by the “ad hoc” ensemble whose main lineup was made up of musicians from the “triangle” of Serbia – Bulgaria – Macedonia: Vasil Hadžimanov, Teodosi Spasov and Toni Kitanovski (band which continued working after Nišville), and a special exclusive involved the only joint performance by the Queen and King of Romani music – Esma Redžepova and Šaban Bajramović.
In addition to the large hall of the “Army Club”, the Programs at the “Army Club” (which included a minimum of five bands per night of the festival) were also held on another stage (while the main stage was being prepared for the next band), in the hall of the Club, and the socializing between the audience and the musicians continued up to the early morning at jam sessions in Nišville Jazz Club.
The last edition in a closed area (and the late November term) proved that Nišville had fully completed their mission, as it had created (and, to a certain extent, educated) a very large audience, so the largest concert hall in Nis became too small to house all the interested parties, which was reflected in the fact that there was a lot of standing in a great number of programs, i.e. that the festival might have been attended by more than a thousand people per night.
The final edition in the hall of the Army Club was held in 2005, after which it was decided that the festival was to change the venue and the term. The fact that this was the right move was confirmed the following year and the first edition (mid-August) in one of the most beautiful, most acoustic and largest open amphitheaters in Europe – at the Summer stage in the Fortress of Nis, which practically initiated the new phase and the chronology of jazz events not only in the south of Serbia but also in this part of Europe.
The fact that there were (at least) three thousand visitors every night (which is the capacity of the venue) was simultaneously a practical confirmation of an “esthetic – physical” principle that the “jazz audience broadens according to the available space”.
The greater area enabled bringing even greater names, some of which included the following in the previous editions, from 2006 to 2008: Billy Cobham, Dr Donald Byrd, Incognito, The Brand New Heavies, Larry Coryell, Victor Bailey, Lenny White, Milčo Leviev, Nils Petter Molvaer, Duško Gojković, Rosenberg Trio, Gilles Peterson, Sidsel Endresen, Misterija bugarskih glasova etc. and Nišville practically immediately became the most frequently visited jazz festival in this part of Europe. Since 2009, Nišville has moved to the large empty grass plateau, also in the Fortress – where the complete structure is built and installed for each separate edition: stands for the audience, backstage, entrances etc.). In addition, there are two large stages, one beside the other, which include alternating performances (with the maximum reduction of breaks between performances) of the participants of the main program (six or seven per night). In addition to the main stage, the program is located on several other free stages at different points in the Fortress or Nis (Open Stage, Welcome Stage, Midnight Jam Stage), and by tradition, over the last few years, as a special introduction to the main program, a two-day and single-day free program entitled “Friends to Šaban” – a special homage to the King of Romani Music – has been held in the amphitheater at the quay next to the river Nišava – where the monument to Šaban Bajramović is located – erected at the initiative of Nišville Jazz Festival itself.
Source: Nisville Jazz Festival