Plovdiv Jazz Fest 2019 (31 October – 2 November)

Plovdiv Jazz Fest is a highlight in the programme of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019. 

Jazz has been part of Plovdiv’s traditions and culture for decades. Plovdiv Jazz Fest is the successor of a ten-year tradition: It took over from the Plovdiv Jazz Evenings festival and each November welcomes some of the world’s most influential jazz artists. A string of attending events - masterclasses, jam sessions and exhibitions, among other features - will complement the main programme this year. A prize for 'lifetime achievement in jazz' has been set up, and there will be a competition for young jazz performers.

Plovdiv Jazz Fest 2019 (31 October – 2 November)

For the European Capital of Culture the end of October and early November 2019 is the time of Plovdiv Jazz Fest, one of the most anticipated jazz events in Bulgaria. John Scofield, the legendary guitarist and Grammy winner, will perform on the fest this fall on 1 November. Another Grammy winner – the singer and pianist Jon Cleary from New Orleans will come to Plovdiv at the stage of the festival at Boris Hristov House of Culture. They are the first announced headliners of the festival – online tickets for 1 November HERE.

This year, the festival’s main programme consists of six concerts offered in three evenings. A parallel programme includes club concerts, jam sessions, an exhibition, a literary focus and a youth competition.

A limited number of grand passes gives access to the entire programme, including club-hosted concerts.

Main Programme

Two ladies of jazz will kick-start the festival on 31 October: the remarkable singer Maria Joao and Linda May Han Oh, one of today’s best young bass players.

The eccentric Maria Joao will come onstage in the company of her yearslong collaborator, the pianist Mario Laginha. Prone to theatricality, Maria has acquired wide popularity with her impressive vocal abilities, often interweaving folklore, avant-garde and electronic music. Throughout a long and exciting career, Maria Joao has released 23 albums and has collaborated with Aki Takase, Bobby McFerrin, David Linx, Gilberto Gil, Dino Saluzzi, among a host of musicians. Maria has taken part in the most prestigious jazz festivals in Europe and across the world, and has received a whole lot of awards. Today she is a true icon of improvisatory music and is considered one of the best performers in the world. Maria Joao conceivably sings as many would like — or dare — to sing.

The evening’s second concert will be of Linda May Han Oh, the charming bass and double-bass player and composer. Born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, she currently lives and works in New York. Over the past 10 years Linda May Han Oh has evolved into one of the most recognised and sought-after bass players of her generation. She is part of Pat Metheny’s current quintet and was member of the bands of Dave Douglas and Joe Lovano. Linda May Han Oh is the winner of multiple awards and has released four albums, the latest, “Aventurine,” just a few months ago. The Wall Street Journal wrote that "[h]er innovative range and stellar improvisations have made Ms. Oh one of the most dynamic rising stars in jazz today." Ms Oh will arrive in Plovdiv with her quartet.

The second evening (1 November) is a guitar players’ night. It will begin with a show by the U.S. guitarist and composer Kurt Rosenwinkel, one of the most influential and original jazz musicians of his generation. His voice as a multi-instrumentalist and lead guitarist is easy to hear in his 11 albums, each of them inspired by a multitude of young and older musicians from around the world. Mr Rosenwinkel’s aesthetic and multi-genre thinking has led him to collaborations with Eric Clapton, Gary Burton, Joe Henderson, Brad Mehldau, among a string of the most important music stars today. Since 2016 he has been actively involved in producing music, focusing on projects by young musicians.

Two Grammy Award winners ascend the stage next: the legendary guitarist John Scofield and Jon Cleary, one of the most interesting singers and pianists in contemporary blues. It wasn’t until 2008 that the two long-time friends started performing together, and since 2015 they have started performing as a duo. In 2019 the two are on a limited-edition tour across Europe and the U.S., and their itinerary includes Plovdiv Jazz Fest. Unusual music partners – one is a contemporary jazz virtuoso; the other unsurpassed master of the New Orleans sound. Scofield and Cleary create impressive and dense concert programme that features pieces from both worlds – from the New Orleans music through winning rhythm-and-blues to electrifying jazz.

The closing evening (2 November) centres on Bulgarian jazz.
It will start with a concert sponsored by Plovdiv Jazz Fest and conceived as a tribute of sorts to the great pianist and composer Rumen “Rupeto” Toskov, one of the most significant and much-loved names in Bulgarian jazz. The line-up will include the pianist Antoni Donchev, the bass and double bass player Veselin “Eko” Veselinov, the trumpeter Rosen Zahariev and the violist Valentin Gerov, among others.

The recognized double bass player Peter Slavov Jr will close out the official programme, presenting his first solo album. Mr Slavov Jr has been living in New York since 2006, has played in more than 40 countries around the world and has received multiple awards. His work includes collaborations with some of music world’s brightest stars such as Quincy Jones, Joe Lovano, Alfredo Rodriguez, Chucho Valdés and many others.

Grand Pass for Plovdiv Jazz Fest here.


The international music festival for jazz music and culture is being organized by the singer Miroslava Katsarova and her company Blue M. Find details at www.facebook.com/plovdivjazzfest, and at plovdivjazzfest.com.


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