History of the festival - Nisville Jazz Festival
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History of the festival

Nishville Jazz Festival – A brand of artistic music

The International Jazz Festival Nisville, the leading jazz festival in Southeast Europe, has a long tradition of preserving jazz music and promoting jazz fusion, particularly ethno jazz – a fusion of local traditional music worldwide.

The Festival takes place each year in August, under the summer stars in a unique and magnificent Medieval fortress in Nis, Serbia. The main program on the Earth and Sky stage and 12 other free music programs throughout the Fortress and around the city attract close to 200.000 visitors during 11 days of the Festival. Other artistic programs that enrich the Festival are the Art to Go Jazzy art colony, Jazz Ballet, Nisville Book Session, Comic Book Exhibition and Workshops, Nisville Film Festival Summit, and notably, Nisville Jazz Theater that started in 2019 and has consistently attracted many foreign theaters.

Since its inception in 1995, the Festival has matured to become one of the top 10 jazz festivals in Europe (Guardian, 2016) committed to preserving diverse and inclusive values, for which it was praised by the New Europe Magazine. In its comprehensive review of Nisville in 2008, the famous American jazz and blues magazine DownBeat hailed the Festival for simultaneously promoting jazz as an American music creation, the musical tradition of the Balkans, and the combination of the two styles. The review validated the Festival’s contribution to the presentation of Balkan music as an emerging music trend.

​Nisville Jazz Festival prides itself on providing jazz workshops to inspire young talented musicians. Since 2007, most of the Festival’s headliners and world-class musicians have served as guest lecturers and shared their insights and musical knowledge in this unique and up-close-and-personal experience for young local musicians. From Larry Coryell to Dusko Gojkovic to Billy Cobham, these dedicated educators influenced numerous young musicians, motivating them to pursue their jazz education and career and create jazz bends.

To promote young jazz performers, the Festival introduced the Nisville Serbian Showcase in 2017. The Showcase is an opportunity for young musicians to perform before the jury comprised of eminent jazz impressionists, promoters, journalists, and directors of jazz festivals from around the world (United States, Russia, China, Lithuania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Croatia, Germany, Albania, BiH, Montenegro, etc.). With such exposure and through involvement in various Nisville projects, such musicians perform at festivals around the world.

Through various grant-based programs, the Nisville Jazz Festival has been working on strengthening ties with musicians from the region and entire Europe, focusing on connecting talented and emerging musicians on collaborative projects. The other emphasis is on promoting minorities, particularly Roma music that instinctively bears the elements of jazz. The Festival aims to enhance those programs and expand them to other continents. A recent collaboration with the New Orleans Jazz Museum brings the Festival one step closer to the cradle of jazz.

The influence of jazz music in the region has also been on the rise thanks to the Festival’s mini-concerts organized in other Serbian cities and neighboring countries. The Festival was awarded numerous prestigious awards for promoting culture and contributing to the economy.

Past Performers include:

Solomon Burke, Tom Harrell, All Di Meola, Monty Alexander, Brian Blade, Richard Galliano, Benny Golson, Randy Brecker, Miroslav Vitous, John Patitucci, Candy Dulfer, Roy Hargrove, Sly & Robbie , Mingus Dinasty, The Cookers, Tania Maria, Billy Cobham, The Rosenberg Trio, The Original Blues Brothers Band, Ron Carter, Dr Donald Byrd, Ginger Baker, Dusko Gojkovic, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Incognito, De Phazz, Jazzanova, Joss Stone, Bob Geldof, Maceo Parker, Alpha Blondy, Omar Hakim, Inner Circle, Gipsy Kings, Christian Scott (Chief Adjuah), Chris Potter, Stanley Jordan, Seun Kuti, Lenny White, Bill Evans, Nouvell Vague, September, Bisera Veletanlic, Vasil Hadzimanov, Vlatko Stefanovski, Rambo Amadeus, The Brand New Heavies, Gilles Peterson & Jose James, David Murrey, Al Foster, Sun Ra Arkestra, etc.

Accompanying Programs:

River Stage / Šaban Balkan Brass Stage, Open Stage, Hip Hop Stage, Midnight Jazzdance Stage, Movie Stage, Jazz For Kids, Welcome Stage, Youth Museum Stage, Kristina Stage…