16–21 December 2020
Belgrade Youth Center / Kombank Hall

Belgrade Youth Center presents, from 16th to 21st December 2020, 36th Belgrade Jazz Festival with the slogan JAZZISTANCE.

Despite the well-known aggravating circumstances that have gripped the world for months due to the pandemic, the Belgrade Jazz Festival will be held this year as well, in compliance with all valid health measures and regulations related to the safety of the audience and participants. As the host and the main festival venue, Belgrade Youth Center will do its best to ensure that the 36th edition of the oldest and internationally most renowned Serbian jazz festival. However, in a different format than usual, serve top music performances. The focus will be on the prominent Serbian and regional jazz scene names - whether it is retrospectives of artists who have left a significant mark in the history of the Festival and jazz music in this region, concert premieres, or new collaborations. As the only Serbian representative in the prestigious European jazz network, we follow closely and continue to promote contemporary trends on the European jazz scene - this year, we've got exclusive guests from Austria, Italy, France and Hungary. Traditionally we support and pay special attention to the youngest Serbian jazz forces with a special program in cooperation with the Department of Jazz and Popular Music at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade.

The slogan of this year's Belgrade Jazz Festival - Jazzistance, implies, on the one hand, the endurance and resilience of jazz music throughout history and even today, in these difficult and complicated epidemiological times. On the other hand, it points to one of the most frequent words used this year: physical distance, something we have to keep in mind while enjoying jazz during the Festival!

The 36th Belgrade Jazz Festival's opening act will be the Serbian prominent double bass player, composer and pedagogue Nenad Vasilić, based for years now in Vienna. He has been one of the leading musicians on the European jazz scene for a long time. He has written more than 40 original compositions during his successful international career and recorded 11 albums under his name. The work of Vasilić is a fusion of European jazz and improvised music, inspired by melodies and rhythms from the rich heritage of the Balkan folklore of his youth. Our audience will have the opportunity to listen to his compositions in specially prepared arrangements for double bass, accordion (Marko Živadinović) and saxophone (Romed Hopfgartner), joined by a string quartet, thus forming Nenad Vasilić Bass & Strings.

Last year, we celebrated a great jubilee - the 35th edition of the Belgrade Jazz Festival and published an impressive monograph covering the event's entire history, from 1971 to 2019. This monumental work, edited by Vojislav Pantić, a jazz critic and the Belgrade Jazz Festival art director, was published only a few days ago and will be promoted as part of this year's Festival. The abundance of archival material, documentation, photographs, newspaper reviews, memories, testimonies and texts of participants, contemporaries and members of the BJF team provide an extensive account not only about the history of the Festival but also jazz music in Serbia and former Yugoslavia, as well as the cultural heritage of our music and culture. Therefore, as a sign of the Belgrade Jazz Festival's rich musical legacy, the Great Hall of the Youth Center on December 21 will host some of Serbian jazz's greatest legends. Distinguished musicians, saxophonist Jovan Maljoković, drummer Lazar Tošić and pianist Vlada Maričić, with their bands will be joined with renowned guests, reminding us of the Serbian jazz scene's great era.

A recollection of the long history of this event would not be complete without artists from other jazz centers of the former Yugoslavia. Macedonian guitarist Vlatko Stefanovski and Croatian pianist Matija Dedić, two greats of the regional music scene, excellent instrumentalists and composers, will perform as a duo for the first time. They will unite their talents and rich musical experience on December 20 in the Kombank Hall for the audience of this year's Belgrade Jazz Festival performing original compositions and some musical surprises.

It is our great pleasure to greet Ulrich Drechsler, one of the most important contemporary Austrian musicians, who will present the AZURE program, part of the large LIMINAL ZONE project, exclusively to the local audience (concert premiere outside Austria). The Belgrade audience witnessed this project's creation at a concert marking the World Jazz Day 2019 in a duo with Peter Zirbs, a legend of the electronic club scene in Vienna. As part of the 36th Belgrade Jazz Festival, we will hear AZURE in the full line-up, bringing an original blend of free-spirited jazz, contemporary music and electronics: Ulrich Drexler - saxophone and clarinets, Loretta Who - vocals, electronics, Peter Zirbs - electronics, sound design and Raphael Keuschnigg - drums, percussion.

Trombonist and composer Filippo Vignato is one of the best Italian jazz musicians of the younger generation. He started his career early, developing not only in jazz, but also in improvised, contemporary, avant-garde and world music. In late 2014 he founded a trio with French pianist Yannick Lestra and Hungarian drummer Attila Gyarfas, the line-up for Belgrade performance. In Vignato's trio's sonic universe, the acoustic and electronic dimensions delicately overlap and merge in a dialogue between lyrical ballads, hypnotic grooves, and radical improvisation. Their debut album Plastic Breath (Auand Records, 2016) was hailed by jazz audiences and critics, opened the door to important festivals, and got them "The European Young Artists Jazz Award" at the Burghausen Jazz Festival in Germany.

As part of the special Belgrade Jazz Festival + program, the Belgrade audience will see a concert by one of their favorites - Israeli double-bassist Avishai Cohen. Initially announced for April this year, then canceled due to the beginning of the pandemic and the state of emergency, the concert will be held on December 18 in Kombank Hall. Previously purchased tickets will be valid for the new date. He will present his new album Arvoles in a new trio consisting of exceptional young talents: Azerbaijani pianist Elchin Shirinov and Israeli drummer Roni Kaspi, a 20-year-old girl with already 14 years of musical experience!

The Ivan Radivojević Quartet, led by an extremely talented young trumpet player and professor at the Stanković Elementary School, and the Gorica & The Grooveheadz ensemble, led by Gorica Šutić, one of the most talented jazz vocalists of the youngest generation, will present some of the best young Serbian jazzers to the general public at concerts on 17 and 18. December in the Belgrade Youth Center Americana Hall.

We call on the audience to respect all measures and show full responsibility while being a part of an unforgettable musical experience at the Belgrade Jazz Festival concerts. In these challenging times, we need each other more than usual, it's time for JAZZISTANS!

The City of Belgrade, the founder of the Belgrade Jazz Festival, included it in 2007 on the list of events of special cultural interest.
The Festival host is the Belgrade Youth Center.
The Belgrade Jazz Festival is a member of the Europe Jazz Network.
Patrons of the 36th Belgrade Jazz Festival: City of Belgrade - City Authority - Secretariat for Culture; the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia.
Friends of the 36th Belgrade Jazz Festival: Lukoil, SOKOJ and Voda Vrnjci.

36th BJF supporters: The Italian Institute of Culture, Austrian Cultural Forum, Embassy of Israel, The Tourism Organisation of Serbia, The Tourism Organisation of Belgrade, Faculty of Music, Alma Quatrro.