By Alix Norman
Whoever came up with ‘Aglanjazz’ should be congratulated. The name of the municipality lends itself perfectly to an event of this type. In fact, it sparks all sorts of other ideas for the various districts of the capital: LefkoSka for example, would be a massive inner-city Jamaican jubilee; StrovoLounge, a weekend chill-fest in stressed-out suburbia; LakaSamba (along with EngoMerengue) a neighbourhood carnival party of Latin proportions. And there should definitely be a Latsia Cha Cha at least once a year. However, for now, Aglantzia has nailed it with their cleverly-named festivities, happening over the next couple of days in surroundings that fit perfectly with the laidback genre of Jazz.
Taking place in the main square of the old village, the venue is almost tailor-made for that off-beat, low-lit atmosphere associated with jazz. “It’s a very picturesque location, with the good vibes that create a positive and relaxed atmosphere for the event,” says Cultural Officer for Aglantzia Municipality, Maria Nicolaou, adding that the district places great emphasis on its musical festivities.
“Along with two annual festivals, there are frequent theatre performances, exhibitions and concerts at the Skali Cultural Centre,” she explains. “The municipality also maintains both a children’s and adults’ choir, and both the CyBC and National Guard Music Ensembles are based here; there are a wide range of activities in which music plays a principal role.” AglanJazz, it seems, was destined to be a huge success since its inception nine years ago. “Back in 2007 there weren’t as many jazz events as now. There was a quest for an innovative and distinctive festival that would be unique in greater Nicosia and make a mark for Aglantzia as a location of cultural activities,” continues Maria.
Over the years, the festival has hosted any number of renowned performers both local (Greece-based jazz musician Andreas Georgiou, and talented vibraphonist Greek Christos Raphaelides) and international (Belgian Michael Blass, German group FizFuz, HadarNoiberg from Israel, and Don Barta of the Czech Republic, to name a few). And this year, the line-up is no less electric…
Opening the festival on Monday evening is New Quartet, a recently-formed bi-communal group, followed by the more international African Vibes (supported in their visit to Cyprus by the Austrian Embassy) who will be bringing a special brand of Afro-Jazz fusion to the mix. Comprising performers from Germany, Austria and Burkina Faso, the group features Sigi Finkel and Mamadou Diabaté – both of whom are included among the most prominent musicians of the Austrian jazz-world music scene – joined on this occasion by percussionist Zakaria Kone and Stefan Padinger on bass. For the past ten years, the duo has performed all around the world, and the unusual instrumentation of saxophones, flutes, balafon (wooden xylophone) and ngoni (traditional lute) will no doubt make for an excellent start to the event.
The second group of the evening have a unique multi-instrumental approach to jazz that not only makes a visual impression but projects a limitless palette of rhythm, colour and emotional depth. Entitled Human Touch, this well-known innovative instrumental trio hail from Greece, and their programme bodes well for a delightfully unique performance. David Lynch, we’re told, will not only be playing the saxophone, flute, whistle and percussion but will also add his voice (along with “spontaneous combustion”!) to the mix, while colleagues Yiotis Kiourtsoglou (electric bass, cajon and “facial effects”) and Stavros Lantsias (keyboard, drums, classical guitar, melodica, and “curve balls”) will contribute to this no doubt wholly unique performance!
Tuesday sees the musicians of the Andreas Rodosthenous Ethnic Jazz Ensemble presenting compositions that “constantly convey memories, tunes and melodies from the East-West, both harmonically and rhythmically” in an interactive and improvisational performance, and closes with a set from one of Greece’s finest jazz guitarists, Takis Barberis, who combines diverse elements from jazz, funk, rock, Indian, Balkan and Greek music in his work.
“We always like to have contrasting groups, who represent both old and new jazz trends,” says Maria, summing up what promises to be an enchanting evening. In fact, with free entrance and local businesses providing snacks and drinks throughout the event, there’s simply no excuse this week for staying away from Aglantzia. And AglanJazz.
July 13 and 14 in the Old Square of Aglantzia. Performances start at 9pm. Entrance is free, and food and drinks will be available throughout the event. For more information call 22 462239 or email [email protected]