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Belgrade Jazz Festival, October 27-30, 2011

In Serbia, Metheny entertains, Lloyd illuminates, Bollani amazes, Ribot burns

Stefano Bollani, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011
Jason Moran, Charles Lloyd, Reuben Rogers, Eric Harland, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011
Charles Lloyd, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011
Elliott Sharp, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011
Henry Grimes, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011
Joachim Kühn, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011
Phronesis: Ivo Neame, Jasper Høiby, Anton Eger, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011
Tigran Hamasyan, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011
Pat Metheny, Belgrade Jazz Festival, Oct. 2011

Most of the North American jazz community does not know there is a jazz festival in Belgrade, Serbia. The Belgrade festival was more famous in the ’70s and ’80s, when Yugoslavia was still intact and when all the big names played there, even Miles and Duke and Dizzy and Monk. But the Balkan wars shut the festival down between 1991 and 2005, and when it came back it had to start over from scratch.

The cityscapes of Belgrade contain extreme contrasts. There are grim blocks in Soviet gray, covered in graffiti in Cyrillic. There are also many big, peaceful parks. On any street you might come upon an abandoned Ottoman or art nouveau edifice, windows boarded up, blackened with time. There are bombed-out buildings, their guts exposed, hit by NATO planes in 1999. From the beautiful grounds of Kalemegdan fortress, high above the old town, you can see where the Sava and Danube rivers meet.

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Originally Published