The annual Hong Kong International Jazz Festival (HKIJF), to be held from September 25-October 2, will be a masterclass of musical improvisation.
At least, that was the impression when the artists' line-up was announced for the first time.
"The major difference of this year's event from previous ones is that we have invited a broader range of jazz musicians, especially those from Eastern Europe, to come this time," said Peter Lee, president of the Hong Kong Jazz Association, which is organizing the festival.
The festival will feature 300 jazz artists from 24 countries, performing Jewish wedding songs, gypsy swing, Moravian folk, Afro-Cuban, a cappella, Brazilian jazz and much more.
The festival will include open concerts in the vacant land of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), indoor concerts in Hong Kong City Hall, as well as free exhibitions, jazz seminars and poetry jazz workshops for kids.
Local jazz icon Ted Lo, who also composes Cantonese pop songs for singers like Justin Lo and Eason Chan, will bring a jazz strings ensemble to this year’s festival as their world premiere.
The festival will also feature five-time Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard and percussionist Poncho Sanchez performing their project Cubano Be Cubano, a tribute to the legacy of the original Conga King, Chano Pozo and his co-conspirator in Latin Jazz, Dizzy Gillespie.
From the Czech Republic comes the Emil Viklický Trio, who are said to combine elements of Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson with a deep infusion of Moravian soul. Other highlights include Portugese band Maria João & Mário Laginha, French group Chico & the Gypsies, the Freddy Cole Quartet and Kurt Rosenwinkel from the United States, Nguyên Lê’s Saiyuki, whose three members are from Japan, India and France, and local talents like Ginger Kwan and SIU2.
For vocalist and band shows at the WKCD, a two-day pass to square stage concerts will cost HK$580-1,000, while circle and mobile stage shows and marching bands are free.
This is the first time that venues in the long-awaited West Kowloon Cultural District will be put into use.
Louis Yu, the WKCD’s performance arts executive director, said: “Although the arts facilities in West Kowloon will not be completed for a few years, we hope we can give the public a taste of what it will be like -- the atmosphere of our future arts hub."
Peter Lee added: “Jazz has the closest character to Hong Kong people among all genres of music. Hong Kong people are famous for being flexible and this is also a feature of jazz.”
The festival also aims to provide jazz education, with renowned storyteller and poet Uncle Hung holding children's jazz and poetry workshops.