The Gărâna Jazz Festival 2023, nestled in the Romanian Carpathian mountains, is set to be an extraordinary event. This 27th edition of the festival will take place from July 5th to July 9th, featuring 19 bands over five days in a special arena accommodating around 3,000 people daily. Morning concerts in the church in Vāliug will showcase young Romanian musicians and intimate performances.
The festival boasts a stellar lineup of top-quality artists primarily from the European continent. Attendees can expect to see renowned ECM artists like Sinnika Langeland, Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Oded Tzur, and Anouar Brahem. Other notable performers include Marius Neset, David Helbock, Leszek Możdżer, and the Wasserfuhr brothers.
Nordic Region Focus
A regular highlight of the festival is its focus on the Nordic region, as evidenced by past editions’ posters. This year’s lineup includes energetic bassist Per Mathisen, Rebekka Bakken, tuba player Daniel Herskedal, and The Side Effects trio, featuring Stian Carstensen, Marius Neset, and Thomas Stronen.
Highlights and Standout Performances
Though picking a few highlights is challenging, Leszek Możdżer’s bravura performance on the piano exemplifies the festival’s appeal. Using Chopin’s music as a springboard, he mesmerizes and captivates the audience by seamlessly transitioning between Messiaen, Ravel, and Chopin.
Oded Tzur’s Quartet, based on his latest album, presents a thrilling set dedicated to his wife, Isabela. Pianist Nitai Hershkovits’ solos continually improve, and the quartet closes with a moving rendition of Elvis’s hit “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.”
Paul Zauner’s trombone performance, alongside Carlton Holmes on piano and their rhythm section, focuses on the music of Abdullah Ibrahim. Holmes captures the spirituality of the music, while Zauner expresses himself through the trombone.
David Helbock demonstrates his fertile imagination with a tribute to Joe Zawinul in “Austrian Syndicate.” On the festival’s third night, he pairs with French vocalist Camille Bertault, who skillfully follows the energetic drift of his thinking.
Other Notable Performances
Michel Godard leads a trio featuring Serbian singer Nataša Mirković and Luciano Biondini on accordion. They move between pieces ranging from the past 500 years and various sources. Michel’s Sunday morning solo performance in Vāliug is a standout, highlighting the links between the serpent, the didgeridoo, and the soul.
The festival also features ‘pure’ singers like Nataša Mirković, Rebekka Bakken, Camille Bertault, and Dean Bowman. The event concludes with an impressive performance by The Side Effects, a crowd-pleasing band offering an irreverent and respectful take on music.