Black Sea Jazz Festival 2015: the Best Yet!

The loudest event in Batumi, the 9th Black Sea Jazz Festival (BSJF), has now come to an end but the emotion received from it will remain for a long time to come. Georgia Today took a look at the before, during and after of the BSJF 2015.

The Black Sea Jazz Festival is considered one of the leading festivals in Europe, attracting visitors from all over the world annually. Preparation for it began several months in advance but intensified after the line-up was revealed, with Georgians eagerly anticipating being able to listen to and witness mega stars with their own eyes, in their homeland. George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Liv Warfield & NPG HORNZ, Lisa Stansfield and Snoop Dogg gave unforgettable concerts to both Georgians and international visitors who had come especially for the four non-stop days of festivities. A further honor to Georgia was that Snoop Dogg took it as the first venue in Eastern Europe in the framework of his planned summer tour.

Expectations high, a large and boisterous crowd gathered nightly at the Batumi Tennis Club from July 23rd to July 26th to attend the festival. The first day was kicked off with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic in a concert that went over the expected time, exceeding an hour and half and delighting both the audience and the artists themselves. For George Clinton it was a double celebration as the concert coincided with his 75th birthday, which he celebrated in Batumi with cake, wine and Georgian cuisine.

“I am delighted with the audience. I had an amazing time here and I will definitely be back,” Clinton announced.

George Clinton is famous American funk musician who began his career with band The Parliament and is considered as one of the founders of Funk music together with James Brown and Sly Stone. He has received a Grammy, a Dove (gospel), an MTV music video award, and has been recognized by BMI, the NAACP Image Awards, and Motown Alumni Association for lifetime achievement. Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. On February 16ththis year, Clinton was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Music from the renowned Berklee College of Music.

Strong voiced 34 year-old musician Liv Warfield gave an amazing performance with her band NPG HORNZ when she took to the stage on the second day. George Kerselidze, Director of festival organizers Eastern Promotion, said they had been planning to bring Liv to Georgia for some years and were extremely glad to host her.

Liv, like Clinton, expressed a desire to return, begging the organizers to invite her back to Georgia again.

“I am so excited about being here tonight,” Warfield told her enthralled audience. “Everyone has been treating me fantastically; superbly. I am so thankful to be here. I want to come back. I hope I will come back, please invite me again,” she said.

The culmination of two-hour concert was when Liv came down from the stage to mingle with fans. The end was no less surprising when she invited members of the audience to join her on stage and band members gave away their drumsticks.

Warfield, influenced by Etta James, Sade, Mary J. Blige and Tina Turner released her first album “Embrace Me” in 2006. Later, she joined Prince’s band “New Power Generation”. In 2014 Prince became Liv’s second album producer.

As the festival reached its mid-point, coming to its end the waiting grew unbearable as audiences held their breaths for the two main artists Lisa Stansfield and Snoop Dogg who were yet to perform. Needless to say, the last two concerts were the most crowded and saw the most government officials attending.

Lisa Stansfield sang for nearly two hours, performing as many old hits as new. Unfortunately, she was the only performer of the Black Sea Jazz Festival 2015 who refused to make a comment. She is known for her pleasant and rhythmic songs and the fact that, despite her immense popularity she has never been able to get along with the latest trends, sticking to her own preferred style.

The most anticipated day of the festival, 26th of July, finally arrived and people made sure to come and claim their spots ready for 42 year-old American hip-hop star Snoop Dogg. Everyone was thrilled, energized and dying to see their favorite artist. Snoop kept listeners waiting for a while but for the eager audience it was worth the wait. As soon as he appeared on stage, the audience gave him a thunderous applause. The reaction and emotion of the audience did not go unnoticed by the artist.

“I love the energy coming from people. To see that they like my music and know my songs by heart gives me incentive to do my best on stage. Today, the audience was very active. From the moment I came out on the stage I felt it and realized at once we would have a great evening. I hope that I brought my mood and energy closer to the listeners,” the rapper said.

Besides the mega stars, during the festival Georgian jazz-pianist George Mikadze staged concerts at club Take Five along with his band made up by famous American musicians.

It was unanimously agreed that the Black Sea Jazz Festival 2015 is so far the best among other festivals and its organizers expressed hope to keep that vibe.

“An unprecedented number of people attended the Festival this year in Batumi. It was great. We hope to maintain this pace,” said George Kereselidze, Director of Eastern Promotion.

The presenter of the BSJF was TBC STATUS; supporters; the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Culture Ministry of Adjara and the Georgian National Tourism Administration.

Meri Taliashvili

30 July 2015 21:47