Composer’s review – Vladimir Botev

To all the people whom this might sound important, or at least meaningful,

Dear,

I’ve read somewhere (I believe), that “it is in the dust of war, where heroes are born”.

But, what is war? I certainly don’t doubt the definition given by a WW2 veteran (I’ll paraphrase), stating: “The noise. The horror. The dirt. The stench. That’s war.”.
But, could it be that wars are waged on different fronts as well? Could it be that people feel the horror, the noise and the like in peaceful times too? Some do, it is obvious that they do. Yet, if things are not (physically) obvious, can we deem them not real automatically? If we can, what does it mean then, when we read of the rampant and galloping suicide rates as well as the prevalence of mental illnesses among the young (which is, by the way, contemporary, most recent phenomena)? Are these young people not in the middle of the most terrifying war? Surely, we can not experience the horror and noise, stench and dirt which they are experiencing… but for them, the war is real. The most real. The most horrific.

So, do we really care about it, and if we do: what can we do to improve the lot of the young? Mind you: healthy young people need help too, be it with their craft, be it with their prospects, be it with their social lives and relationships.

I’ll try to lead you through a thought experiment.

To illustrate, we’ll assume that a certain little country exists in a not-too-popular part of the world. The prospects of the young in this ‘part of the world’ are not so bright (at least not necessarily, due to the economic and political situation there). To make it even more challenging, let’s say that the entire region has a history of civil wars, the effects of which are strongly felt even nowadays. Well: why not add a raging world-wide pandemic to spice it up a little bit further? Finally, we’ll assume that a few dedicated and enthusiastic people who are ready to make sacrifices for the greater good reside in the region. They are masters of their crafts and they would be more than happy to help the young. Of course, they would have many financial and logistical challenges, so we’ll assume that a few dedicated local and international organizations would help them with financial and/or other aid.

Now, let’s ask ourselves: Is it actually possible (practically speaking) for this team of people/institutions to even start the process against all odds? Is it not more practical or even more “sane” to “leave it for the next year” as it was done many times before? Would it work if they tried? What good would it bring anyway? What would it mean after all; how can at least a minute of the youth’s lives be improved at all?

Well, guess what: we need not to “imagine” any more (we’ll leave that to John Lennon, as we should). This has already happened or rather: the process (process being the key word here) was successfully initiated in a brilliant fashion and was finished with lovely results, despite all the difficulties! The Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra was created, rehearsals held, original repertoire performed on two separate concerts in Montenegro! And if you wonder how did these composers and musicians who reside in 7 different countries from the region get along, I’ll try to describe it bellow (as someone who was there):

The smiles. The Joy. The emotions. The friendship. The respect. The solidarity. The hospitality. The hope. The trust. The love. That’s The Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra!

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I believe that all of the above is just the beginning, as the success and the continuation of this wonderful story will bring all these qualities to the lives of many young (both jazz and classical!) musicians to come.

In this sense, and in closure, let me emphasize the effort invested by the mentors and organizers of this project, without whose prowess and devotion none of the above would even be imaginable.

And when we return to this spring (both factually and metaphorically) many years later, seeing the musicians whose lives were positively influenced (if not transformed) by The Orchestra, which itself was organized thanks to a special few, we’ll gladly borrow another line from WW2 source, well aware that these people are (again) best described “by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human *culture* was so much owed by so many to so few.”
With utmost respect,

Vladimir Botev, composer

 

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JAM 2021

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Our fifteenth edition of Jazz Appreciation Month in Montenegro – JAM 2021 will be held under the motto ’’Balkan Jazz’’. Guided by the idea that during these challenging times musicians didn’t have a lot of opportunities to perform in front of the audience, we wanted to emphasize the importance of live concerts and provide space to jazz performers, ensembles and composers from the Balkans region to reencounter with their audience and create new values in music – in cooperation with their colleagues. Taking into account epidemiological situation and adhering to health protection measures, the JAM 2021 is created on a smaller scale than usual and will mainly take place at the Cultural Center of Podgorica (KIC). A total of five programs (two film screenings within the cycle ’’Jazz on Film’’ and three concerts of musicians from the Balkan region) will be held live in the KIC’s halls, while the final concert of the Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra, marking the International Jazz Day – April 30, will take place at the Royal Theatre of Cetinje.

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The program will start with screenings of two feature films – “Elevator to the Gallows” (1958) by French director Louis Malle and “Paris Blues” (1961) by American director Martin Ritt. Both films feature the music by celebrated jazz composers – trumpeter Miles Davis for “Elevator to the Gallows” and pianist Duke Ellington for “Paris Blues”, and both are known for their original jazz music that creates and stimulates special emotions and atmosphere. Film screenings are scheduled for Monday, April 5 and Tuesday, April 6 at the DODEST Hall at 4 p.m.

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Concert cycle will start with the AJS Quartet, one of the most popular ensembles in Albania. The The members of the quartet are musicians from Tirana: pianist and composer Genti Rushi, saxophonist and flutist Ermal Rodi, drummer Emilian Dhimo and double bassist Roni Gyura. They combine different ideas and experiences which make their music and performances very interesting and original. The music of this ensemble is fusion of different jazz styles, and incorporate the flavors of Balkan music. The AJS Quartet regularly performs both in Albania and on the international jazz scene. They did numerous concert tours in Europe and beyond. Their concert at KIC is scheduled for Wednesday, April 7 at 5 p.m.

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The JAM program also includes a concert by the young Montenegrin fusion band Kuhinjazz. The bend members are Enes Tahirović, on keyboards, Slaven Ljujić, on bass, and Martin Đorđević, on drums, Stefan Pavićević, on saxophone, and Dejan Ljujić, on trombone. After completing their jazz studies abroad (Siena, Italy, Graz, Austria and Boston; US), Martin, Enes and Slaven returned to Podgorica with the aim of contributing to the development in their own country and working through composing, performing and coaching. Considering that the Jazz Appreciation Month event has been essential for the educational and musical development of all members of Kuhinjazz since its inception, this concert is a continuation of cooperation through the joint work of a young jazz generation. The Kuhinjazz concert is scheduled for April 22 in the Main Hall of KIC at 8 p.m.

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At the end of the JAM 2021 event, a concert of a new musical formation of young jazz musicians from the Balkans will be realized within the one-year project “Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra”, conducted by the NGO Jazz Art under the auspices of the Western Balkans Fund and in cooperation with partners from the region: Faculty of Music Belgrade and Music Academy of the University “Goce Delcev” Stip, as well as local partner KIC “Budo Tomovic” of Podgorica.

Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra will play original compositions written by ten selected young and renowned composers from the Balkan region: Vladimir Botev and Gordan Spasovski from Northern Macedonia, Simona Strungaru and Sebastian Burneci from Romania, Ivan Jovanovic, Damjan Jovicin and Nevena Pejcic from Serbia, David Mastikosa from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mak Mutrić from Croatia, and Rok Nemanič, from Slovenia, under the direction of jazz experts – mentor and professor Antonio Kitanovski (Music Academy of the University “Goce Delčev” Štip) from Vladimir Nikolov (Faculty of Music Belgrade).

The premiere performance Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra will hold on April 29 at KIC at 8 pm, and a day later the they will present their repertoire to the audience in Cetinje, as part of the celebration of the International Jazz Day – April 30 at noon, at  the Royal Theater.

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In addition to the film and concert program, we have created, in cooperation with the American Corner in Podgorica, an online program-lecture “Virtual Encounters” every Wednesday at 8 pm. We will host prominent artists from the world of music, photography, literature and film. In the past, all of them have contributed to the programs of the festival “Jazz Appreciation Month in Montenegro: John Edward Hasse, a famous music writer, editor-emeritus of the collection of American music at the National Museum of American History; Virginia Jones, professor of American literature at Louisiana State University in Alexandria, USA; renowned art photographer Žiga Koritnik from Ljubljana and well-known film theorist Miša Nedeljković, professor at the University of Oklahoma, USA. Online lectures will be streamed on FB Live at the pages of Jazz Art and American Corner Podgorica (every Wednesday at 8 p.m.).

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We are thankful for support of our longtime partners and sponsors: KIC “Budo Tomović”, Tourism Organization of Cetinje and CKB (Montenegrin Commercial Bank – CKB).

All JAM events are open to the public and free of charge.

Come, experience Jazz! We are waiting for you.

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Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra Composers

We are happy to introduce ten young composers who  have been selected  for the Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra repertoire: Vladimir Botev, Sebastian Burneci, Ivan Jovanović, Damjan Jovičin, David Mastikosa, Mak Murtić, Rok Nemanič, Nevena Pejčić, Gordan Spasovski i Simona Strungaru. These young and emerging composers of  jazz and contemporary music are coming from different  Balkan countries:  Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Serbia.

Their recent and new works will be performed by the Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra, on 29 and 30 of April this year, in Podgorica and Cetinje, crowning the festival Jazz Appreciation Month in Montenegro.

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