Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007


source :: jazz press service
Jazz-Quad, Belarus
March 19 2007

The Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007 brought jazz
fanatics who flocked to Dubai from all over the UAE, the GCC and from
Europe, three spectacular nights of quality music and performances,
complimented by a magical atmosphere and a stunning set-up, and has
left people euphoric and hungry for more. This was the 5th year of
this hugely popular event and its success, thanks to an unparalleled,
legendary line up, was evident from the cheers of an appreciative
crowd the applauses of which are still resonating around the idyllic
venue at Dubai Media City’s outdoor amphitheatre.

"On the first night we had a crowd of 6, 500 fans, 9, 000 attended
the second night of the event, and an incredible crowd of 9, 500
attended the final night of performances." Said Anthony Younes,
managing director of Chillout Productions, founders and organizers
of the Dubai Jazz Festival.

The first night, Thursday March 8, saw the oriental jazz band, Kamal
Musallam Trio, open the festival to great acclaim from the audience.

The strains of middle-eastern jazz-fusion filled the air as Kamal
added his unique, doleful sounding Glissentar, an innovative instrument
created by Godin, which is an amazing marriage of the guitar and the
oud. Musallam’s alluring hybrid of oriental passion and charming jazz
was the perfect opener.

Suitably ‘warmed up’ by Kamal, the audience welcomed the second
act, a living legend in the person of the soulful Freddy Cole. Cole,
already a confirmed favorite of the UAE’s jazz and blues aficionados,
did not disappoint. Playing to his audience, Cole delivered a polished
performance, in his inimitable easy going style which, coupled with
his unforgettably husky voice and acute sense of melodic and rhythmic
phrasing made his interpretations of both pop and jazz music very
much his own.

Subsequently, Guy Manoukian, the charismatic, Armenian origin, Lebanese
born composer, stormed the Cadillac stage with his unique style of
classical jazz/oriental music. Manoukian enthralled the strong Lebanese
contingent and others with cover versions of Fairouz and traditional
Armenian songs ‘jazzed up’ (if you’ll pardon the pun) with catchy
upbeat rhythms that had people literally dancing all around; these
were featured alongside several of his own compositions. Manoukian
was called back on stage to perform another number that kept the
crowd applauding until long after the stage lights were extinguished.

The artist who topped the bill on the first night was the spectacular
Dee Dee Bridgewater, putting on a powerful show with the aid of her
Malian family "The Dee Dee Bridgewater Malian Project". Dee Dee’s
repertoire delved into the roots of jazz, blues and her own history
as an ‘Afro-American’. The power of her voice and the energy and
spirit of her performance was the perfect end to a fabulous evening
that celebrated the jazz movement from all four corners of the earth.

The local blues hero Sergio Bekhazi, formerly of the Sergio Bekhazi
Trio, opened the second night of the S-DIJF 2007 ably assisted by
Drummer Tim Burnell and his own brother cum bassist, Roy Bekhazi.

Sergio, winner of several North American blues guitar magazine awards,
‘charged up’ the crowd with a selection of music from such legends as
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer and others, in addition
to some of his compositions.

In true Emirates style, Sergio was given a rousing reception and a big
hand of thanks when his performance regrettably came to a close and he
handed the stage over to the Three Ladies of Blues, whose singing was
as impressive as their looks. Powerful, moving and sexy are some of
the adjectives evoked by the sheer vocal strength and range of these
three virtuosos, who delivered an intensely emotional and moving
performance. The audience of the 2007 S-DIJF were captivated and
taken back to the early years of Harlem paying tribute to such great
female Jazz, Blues and Gospel singers and musicians as Bessie Smith,
Billie Holiday, Diana Washington along with a number of other stars
of black American music, whose music and lyrics are still strong in
our minds even today…

What more can be said about the seasoned jazz veteran, amazing
trumpet virtuoso and prolific composer Randy Brecker who, following
the Three Ladies of Blues, shared the Cadillac stage with his wife,
Ada Rovatti, a fluent tenor and an accomplished soprano saxophonist
in her own right. The audience was transported by the melodic sounds
of this traditional and funky jazz duet.

The much anticipated TOTO, who were celebrating 30 years together on
stage, along with the 9, 000-strong audience at the Jazz Festival, ably
lived up to their reputation. This legendary group that has hundreds
of well-merited credits, tributes and honors to their names, blew away
the crowd for a full two and a half hours. Professionalism at its best!

The finale to our three-day jazz extravaganza was initiated by the
popular Dubai Drums, who were invited back by public demand thanks to
the extremely positive audience feedback received after last year’s
event. True to form, Dubai Drums put on an intensely interactive and
truly astounding show that energized the crowd and has surely given
them something to talk about for months to come.

Next, S-DIJF 2007 attendees welcomed on stage the European
jazz-chart-topping Robin McKelle. McKelle treated the attentive crowd
to a selection of songs from her debut solo album "Introducing Robin
McKelle", extending her repertoire of mesmerizing songs that echoed
with haunting memories of the postwar jazz greats to include a touch of
retro-swing and demonstrating the range of her remarkable soul-infused,
alto pitched voice.

Fresh from two successful world tours, a Grammy nomination (their
third), a Gibson Guitar Award, a Jazz Trax "Album of the Year" Award
and a National Smooth Jazz Awards nomination in the "Group/Duo of
the Year" category, the British jazz group Acoustic Alchemy closed
the Cadillac stage performances on March 10, 2007 with a sensational
performance of their two acoustic guitars concept via an adventurous
mix of Latin, jazz, pop and soul textures which drew people closer
and closer to the stage, mesmerized!

Jamie Cullum, the dynamic 26-year-old British singer, songwriter,
and pianist met everybody’s expectations, and then some! The crowd was
electric, but not more than the artist himself, who gave a performance
to top all performances – one that will stay in the memories of
everyone who had the good fortune to be there. Cullum played songs
from his Verve debut album, "Twentysomething", leaving the audience in
no doubt as to why he has set the record as the fastest-selling jazz
debut artiste in UK history. The album was certified Platinum in just
six weeks, selling over two million copies (including nearly 400, 000
in the States) and garnering a Grammy nomination. Jamie’s repertoire
for the 2007 S-DIJF as well as including songs from his new album,
"Catching Tales", also featured titles such as Photograph along with
some songs from his second album "Pointless Nostalgic". Cullum’s
performance was truly incredible. An onlooker from the crowd was heard
to declare "What a performer, he truly is the face of modern jazz.’

Anthony said, "My sincere thanks go out to the main sponsors Skywards,
Cadillac, Emirates, to name just a few, and all the press and media
partners and to everyone who has contributed to the success of this
incredible event. We will, of course, endeavor to put together an
equally illustrious line-up of invitees for next year."

The two stages, worked well giving the public the chance to discover
all the additional stands that were there, as they took a leisurely
stroll along the paved walkways between the two stages. Not forgetting
the Arts & Crafts village located next to the Cadillac stage which
showcased some of its best crafts so far. The atmosphere was one of
relaxed conviviality; the food and beverage village catered by Hilton
had a wide variety of snacks to suit all tastes, from burgers and
shawarmas, to the famous Zaatar W Zeit, right down to the Seatle’s
Best Coffee.

"This year we added a second jamming session venue besides Jambase,
Madinat Jumeirah "Midnight Jamming Session", held at the Tamaniya
terrace, Radisson SAS Hotel "Midnight Shisha & Jazz", and it had
proved to be highly successful with Furat Qaddouri Quartet and all the
festival musicians stepping on stage to create what we call the "magic
pot"! said Anthony, adding, "and we can promise all our fans that next
year is going to be no less surprise- filled than the years before.

Its an ongoing thriving vision, we have to keep the Jazz festival
reflecting nothing less than electrifying music blended with dazzling
performances that would appeal to the true music thirsted ever
growing audience, leaving them anticipating the following show that
is constantly evolving to evoke the soul in Dubai’s creative music
scene. See you next year at the 2008 Skywards Dubai International Jazz
Festival which is going to take place in the first 10 days of March."

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