Jazz echoes in the Valley of Thracian Kings

From 24th to 26th August 2017, Kazanlak welcomed the third edition of the Jazz Fest with a rich program of initiatives. Jam sessions, open-air concerts, and special events for the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Jazz”, were the cornerstone of this year edition directed by Nadia Toncheva. The Youth team interviewed three of the invited artists of Jazz Fest 2017 to get to know them more closely: Melih Güzel (Turkey), Theodosii Spassov (Bulgaria) and Ron Jackson (U.S.A.). Each one of them has a very personal approach to Jazz; a very special way of reinterpreting his roots through this musical genre.

Melih Güzel, a musician’s journey through Anatolia

On Thursday 24th August, the Turkish artist Melih Guzel performed an exceptional guitar repertoire from his album “Sounds of Anatolia” (2001). A project “created within a natural process, as a result of a guitarist who is interested in composition and runs on the advantages of living in İstanbul. […] An extraordinary metropolis feeding the artists, the Turkish music and folkloric culture”. Through this artistic work, spanning from jazz to traditional folk music, Melih invites the listener to undertake a journey into Anatolia, where the East meets the West, and to explore its rich cultural mosaic.

Theodosii Spassov. “The kaval player of the world”

On Friday 25th August, after an opening show about Thracian rituals, Tyulbeto Park’s stage housed a performance of the great Bulgarian musician Theodosii Spassov. Internationally renowned for his virtuosity on the “shepherd” wooden flute called Kaval, one of the oldest instruments of Europe, Spassov developed a unique style to play it: a synthesis of traditional folklore, jazz and classical music, which Newsweek magazine defined as “a new musical genre.”

Ron Jackson. The master of 6 and 7-string guitar

On Saturday 26th August, Ron Jackson, the American 6 and 7 string master guitarist, brought his urban jazz from New York venues to the heart of Bulgaria. Ron’s style of playing and composing, a reflection of his musical eclecticism and outstanding versatility, blend together Jazz and other American styles such as soul, R&B or blues, and also Brazilian, Pop, Country, Calypso, Reggae, Soul and Funk, Classical, as well as influenced by his roots of the Philippines.


Our special thanks to Nadia Toncheva, artistic director of Kazanlak Jazz Fest, for the work we did together and all her support.

In collaboration with: Jazz Festival Kazanlak

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