The 16th International Istanbul Jazz Festival, which runs from July 2 to 15, features dozens of concerts on the water, as well as dry land, featuring Turkish legends like Erkan Ogur and Grammy winners like the guitarist George Benson, who will perform a tribute to Nat “King” Cole.
Jazz fans in Turkey will always remember the 8th of July 1984 when Chick Corea and Steve Kujala performed at the Atatürk Cultural Center as part of the İstanbul Festival. Marking the beginning of things to come, the concert proved that jazz should play a larger role in the İstanbul Festival, and that the musical spectrum of the Festival should be extended to cover many other musical styles. With the first stadium concert in Turkey featuring Bryan Adams, and a later concert by Sting and the Scorpions, the emphasis on jazz and other kinds of “urban music” in the İstanbul Festival increased and grew far beyond the framework of the Festival. Thus, in 1994, the Foundation announced that jazz, too, was to be a separate annual event and the first International İstanbul Jazz Festival was organized in the same year. From the beginning, the Festival was meant to go beyond the limits of “jazz” and its literal meaning. It was to embrace many other styles in addition to jazz: rock, pop, blues, reggae, new age and more. It would surpass the boundaries of the concert venues and question the borders separating the artists from the audience. In short, it would be more than a series of concerts. The result has been eleven years of success with over 300 concerts by thousands of performers in numerous venues, clubs and even the streets and squares of İstanbul. A jubilant festival taking place in the very heart of the city! One of the best organized festivals in Europe, the International İstanbul Jazz Festival has brought many renowned artists, including Eric Clapton, Sting, Lou Reed, Bryan Ferry, Massive Attack, Björk, Dead Can Dance, Suzanne Vega, Patti Smith, Bobby McFerrin, Randy Crawford, The Manhattan Transfer, Ornette Coleman, Marcus Miller, Jan Garbarek, Keith Jarrett, Wynton Marsalis, Goran Bregovich, Tori Amos, Elvis Cotello, Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau to İstanbul’s music lovers. With its boundless energy it has become one of the most important events on the İstanbul cultural scene.