Among the big events of this year’s al Bustan International Festival of Music and Arts is British jazz pianist and impresario Julian Joseph.
Renowned as one of Britain’s best jazz artists and an ambassador of the form, Joseph is the only jazz act among the 25 different musical performers in the month-long festival, according to The Daily Star.
His two-day trip to Lebanon will feature only one performance. The solo piano concert will mix his original material with jazz standards by such greats as Cole Porter, “obviously with my own spin on the whole thing,” the daily quoted Joseph as saying.
The 35-year old Joseph says his love of the form blossomed during his training at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston. Sine then he has led his own Trio, Quartet, eight-piece Forum project and Big Band. He has also performed with three orchestras, including the London Symphony.
Solo performances present a different set of challenges, not least the fact that the audience’s relationship to the music sits squarely on one person’s shoulders. For Joseph, his relationship with the audience is one of the most important components in deeming a performance successful or not.
That he is exporting jazz, an American tradition which he called “one of the most powerful statements anywhere,” and that he is the only one bringing it to Lebanon at this year’s festival, did not concern Joseph in the slightest.
He asserted that performances in places where jazz does not play a large part in the arts scene could be more rewarding because the audiences savored every morsel.
“I think in the Western world it can become blase because they are used to this kind of culture all the time,” he said.
Joseph, according to BBC Radio, has played in Africa, India and the west Indies not exactly huge markets for jazz music. This will be his first performance in the Arab world.
Julian Joseph has played a substantial role in breaking down the artificial barriers between 'classical' and 'jazz' music. By his own synthesis of style and influences and by way of his innovative projects at 'classical' venues and with musicians from all disciplines, he has established himself as one of the most significant international voices of jazz, today and for the future. He has played a leading role in the launch of the Associated Board's New Jazz Syllabus, which incorporates one of his own compositions, and he is a patron of the Jazz Development Trust, established in 1998.
BBC Radio added that Joseph has carved out a unique position for himself at the vanguard of the international jazz scene - not only as a performing musician but also as an articulate and persuasive ambassador for his art, familiar in the concert hall and also on television and radio – Albawaba.com
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