The Hong Kong International Jazz Festival (HKIJF) begins with a free outdoor concert at 2pm today at the Cultural Centre. The programme concludes with a two-day extravaganza in West Kowloon next weekend - when another jazz festival begins.
The Jazz World Festival is a lower-key affair than the HKIJF, which is sponsored by 20-odd bodies including the government's Mega Events Fund, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.
Clarence Chang, who co-founded the HKIJF before going his own way, supports local and international artists, and this can be seen in the ensembles performing at the Jazz World Festival. It opens on October 2 at 8pm at the Skylark Lounge - where Chang has presented some excellent gigs over the past year - with the Dag Arnesen Trio. The pianist leads a top Norwegian group which blend jazz with classical music and Scandinavian folk. They play again on October 3.
On October 9 and 10, Skylark will present the Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet comprising Jeremy Monteiro on organ, Eugene Pao on guitar, Tots Tolentino on sax and Hong Chanutr Techatananan on drums. In between those two residencies will be two concerts at the City Hall Theatre, featuring Italian pianist Danilo Rea. The first on October 5 sees Rea in a duo format with trumpeter Flavio Boltro, offering jazz interpretations of opera tunes. On October 6, Rea will perform solo in a programme of standards and pop tunes.
On October 14 at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Jockey Club Auditorium, what Chang calls 'the first ever youth big band fest in Hong Kong' will feature younger talents. The Middle School Band, the High School Band of the International Christian School, and the Hong Kong Youth Jazz Orchestra will play; there will also be sets from the Basic Notes Jazz Big Band and the Saturday Night Jazz Orchestra.
The following night at the same venue, the biggest name of the festival appears: bassist Eddie Gomez pays tribute to his former boss, pianist Bill Evans, who died in 1980. Gomez and his quartet will be joined by two young musicians, guitarist Teriver Cheung from Hong Kong and trumpeter Li Xiaochuan from Shanghai.
Closing the festival on October 16 at 8pm at the Cultural Centre Concert Hall will be harmonica virtuoso Hendrik Meurkens with another tribute show, this one dedicated to Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim who died in 1994. Meurkens appears with Brazilian musicians including guitarist Toninho Horta, and Hong Kong-based guests such as Eugene Pao, pianist Bob Mocarsky and singer Angelita Li.
Three of the brightest stars of the Jazz World Festival.
Eddie Gomez: a bassist of extraordinary technical accomplishment and expressive subtlety, who is better known as an accompanist than as a leader.
Hendrik Meurkens: hailed as the finest jazz harmonica player since Toots Thielemans, Meurkens is equally impressive on vibraphone.
Danilo Rea: from his time with progressive rock group Perigeo, the pianist has gone on to become one of Italy's most popular jazz musicians.