When the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival was founded in 2003, it was an out and out novelty for the entire middle eastern area from a number of points of view, primarily the artistic. In a region undergoing continuous evolution and populated by ethnic groups of the most diverse cultural characteristics, music is the most efficacious unifying feature, a common language spoken and understood by all. As a confirmation of its extraordinary power, recent years have recorded a constant growth in the quality of the concerts held in the Middle East, with the Arab Emirates enjoying a particularly high profile.
A happy intuition, therefore, on the part of the management and staff at Chillout productions, formed (and could it have been otherwise?) by great music lovers, with a particular predilection for jazz. In effect there was a great vacuum in the area which undoubtedly needed to be filled. A vacuum also in market terms, in a place where the potential was great and had reached a point of maturity. At Chillout productions, they therefore carried out group research for two years, at the end of which they developed the project entitled Much more than jazz which brought about the first Dubai International Jazz Festival, which immediately became an annual event of considerable artistic value, with the participation of the best international musicians in jazz, rock, funk, swing, fusion, blues and contemporary music. The chosen location, Dubai Media City, proved to be the ideal place for the large public which arrived (circa 8,000 people), a result of particular importance when one considers that this was the first edition of the event.
In its second year, 2004, the festival doubled its numbers in terms of the attending public (15,000 people), touching 18,000 in its third edition the following year. As the Festival’s importance grew, the area in which it took place also grew, until it conquered the entire surface of Dubai Media City, thanks to the greater number of stages and daily shows. Also the fourth year, 2006, confirmed this growth tendency, with a 20% increase in the numbers of the public, accompanied, as is the custom, by the participation of further important international stars, which has created a positive slipstream for the Arab Emirates also for the rest of the year. The Dubai entertainments bill has in effect been enriched by the biggest names, who have come consistently to include the UAE metropolis on their international tour schedules. One needs only to look at the results of the last edition, that of 2007, which saw the participation of over 25,000 fans coming, apart from the Arabian peninsula itself, from many other middle eastern countries and from Europe. A success which boasts ever more consistent artistic content.
Among the many great artists who have so far taken part, it is worth mentioning at least some: Billy Cobham, TOTO, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jamie Cullum, Mike Stern, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Electric Light Orchestra, Kool & The Gang, Roger Hodgson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Chico Freeman, Archie Shepp, Jamie Davis, Peter King, Stanley Jordan, Randy Brecker, Toufic Farroukh and many, many other artists.
The production Company, Chillout Productions, contemporaneously to the launch of the Dubai International Jazz Festival, also launched the Abu Dhabi International Jazz Festival and the Annual Abu Dhabi Latin Music Festival and these also have established themselves as important points of reference in the middle eastern area for worldwide quality music.
Apart from the two further events, another with the same characteristics has for years been established in the Arab Emirates: the recitals lasting three days each twice monthly. These are musical shows which not only cover the sphere of jazz and Latin-American music, but also many other genres, with the single common denominator which is that of quality.
The last edition of the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival took place at the Amphitheatre in Dubai Media City. The rich calendar of artists saw the following appear on stage: David Gray, Robin Gibb, Jesse Cook, Boney James, Courtney Pine, Janina, Anna Nygren, Lovisa, Ben Granfelt, Cormac Kenevey, Joe Stilgoe, Lori Nuic, Eileen Khatchadourian, Clara Oleg, Sean Jones, Puppini Sisters, Mishka Adams, Jonah Hallberg, Christina Gustafsson, Joachim Bergström, Magnus Lindgren, Therese Neaime, Paulak, Antonia Bennett, Jonas Desai, Olivier Colette, Emily McEwan, Assaad Lakkis, Furat Qadduori and Nina Boutchakjian.
Photograph provided courtesy of Elhajis
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