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15th Koktebel Jazz Festival was completed on August 27 in Chornomorsk. Visitors spent very pleasant 4 festival days right on the beach, extremely saturated not only with musical events. Within the framework of the festival there was 5th Artishock – art show, which already became an integral part of Jazz-Koktebel, in the program of which there were film screenings and lectures, often quite harmoniously flowing into open discussions. Jazz-Koktebel has long been a festival not so much jazz but multi-genre, and this year was not an exception. On different stages we heard music of different kinds: from big bands and a cappella to DJs, street brass bands, ethnic, folktronic, trip-hop, IDM, balkans, reggae, rockabilly and much more. By the way, there was also jazz. On the one hand, it is clear that such vinaigrette should attract a more massive audience. On the other, the integrity of the festival is lost. People were not in a hurry to buy a subscription for all 4 days. Many choose their own day of interest, although the organizers tried to ensure that the famous headliner was in the lineup every evening. Perhaps they are not very good at it yet, but they should say a big "thank you" at least for the fact that the Jazz-Koktebel revived in a completely different place after the annexation of Crimea. And Chornomorsk is a wonderful location!
What is good in Chornomorsk
First of all – it’s the sea. The festival itself takes place on the large beach of the Chaika recreation center. 3 main scenes are located there, and the spectators stand directly on the sand, 10 meters from the surf. You do not like the band that is playing now? No problem - just walk to the sea, plunge into the southern bliss until something pleasant appears on the stage. In other words, you do not get distracted from pleasure for a second. The Chaika itself is an old Soviet recreation center, with everything that follows: a half-ruined, shabby, with wooden houses in the style of the USSR Black Sea region. But it is very green and atmospheric. There was also a tent city, an absolutely necessary thing in any large open air. The prices for the voucher in the tent city in comparison with last year increased almost twice. Hence, this is a popular option. But, of course, many people placed their tents right on the beach. For free, of course.
The prices of festival food courts were more than democratic. Beer of several varieties, that you do not meet often at festivals in general, cost 35 hryvnia. For comparison, at the festival Z-Games, held in the neighborhood in Zatoka on the same dates, was presented only one beer manufacturer and for 50 hryvnias. All kinds of sausages-kebabs are also quite accessible. The price policy of the festival itself was quite flexible, and here the organizers really made their best: the first and last day of the festival was full of Ukrainian performers, and the entrance fee was 200 hryvnas, on the second and third days with famous headliners - 600 hryvnias.
The first day
However, festival showed famous musicians right and the first day. The main stage of the festival was opened by the permanent guest Karl Frierson with the Mykolaiv Performance Big Band. The performance left a double impression. Some things were quite interesting and entertaining, arrangements for the big band were sometimes unexpected and curious, some songs sounded very good and new. But with the orchestra it was very audible that the musicians had little rehearsal with each other. Frierson long ago assembled a composition of Ukrainian musicians, with whom he regularly performs in Ukraine. For a small composition and the music on which Karl specializes, this is normal. But with an extended band, such things do not pass unnoticed. Remembering the old Frierson concerts, there is a strong feeling that Karl became a hostage of his concert concept when he agrees to any performances for a fairly small money, finding local musicians, even brilliant professionals.
And yes, there were problems with the sound on the first day. Sound is an absolutely necessary part of a quality concert. And when the listener drowsily walks along the beach in search of a point where all the nuances would have been heard, it strains him. Ukrainian a cappella ManSound sounded not so brilliant. Also the lack of sound greatly affected Katya Chili.
The second day
Everything changed on the second, the most top-rated day of the festival with the participation of Red Snapper, Vagonovozhatye and the Asian Dub Foundation. No, there was no big crowd. The main thing is that the sound was much better. No complaints - from anywhere on the beach everything was heard perfectly, all the subtleties and musical delights of Red Snapper were great. The group, of course, made an incredible groove, sounded as always awesome and confident.
The next day there were again 2 main headliners: JJ Johanson and Chantel. The musicians worked without surprises. Johanson is a frequent guest in our region. All who wanted to listen to it live, have done this long ago. About Chantel we can say that in Europe no one particularly listens to Bregovic, everyone is listening to Chantel. And from him, too, we received exactly what was expected – the balkan music, with drive and dances.
Apparently, Jazz-Koktebel is really stylistically very diverse. Is it good? On the one hand, of course, yes, it's good. The audience, who came to the Asian Dub Foundation, got acquainted with the work of the Vagonovozhatye, and people who dreamed about the concert of Chantel were captivated by Heartbeats Brass Band. And, of course, the festival attracts a wide variety of music lovers. On the other hand, this may be the problem. The number of viewers has visually decreased in comparison with last year. For example, at the same time, the ZaxidFest festival near Lviv, initially positioned as a multi-genre of everything, but eventually came to a large genre open-air. And, that is important, since then ZaxidFest has found its audience. Jazz-Koktebel story is exactly the opposite: initially they started as a jazz festival, and now they are positioning themselves as a multi-genre event of a large scale. Perhaps, that's why the dynamics of the viewers flow is slightly affected. But, as the director of Jazz-Koktebel Lilia Mlinarich says: "We need more festivals - good and different." Koktebel Jazz Festival definitely took its niche on the country's festival map, and every year they bring projects that are interesting to the most demanding music lovers. Therefore, you should visit the festival in a year, of course, it is worth it.