Three Dizzy Nights with Tbilisi Jazz Festival
07 November, 2013
Three Dizzy Nights with Tbilisi Jazz Festival
Old Friend Marcus Miller, New Friend Avishai Cohen, and “Unforgettable” Natalie Cole

Tbilisi Jazz Festival is already a musical tradition. Its patrons come well-dressed, in a festive mood, full of good feeling and a desire to hear the great music that will be produced by the gifted jazzmen.
The 2013 Festival opened on 28 October, at its traditional venue, Tbilisi Concert Hall, and was totally sold-out. Tickets were moderately priced, thanks to Eastern Promotion, the company behind the event, and
prestigious sponsors. Audience members, whether from Georgia or elsewhere, who might have worried that “you get what you pay for,” in this case, not very much, had no reason to be suspicious, since the quality of the performances was high.
For the third time Marcus Miller came to Georgia, having been in Batumi, at the Black Sea Jazz Festival previously with the program “Free,” and later in Tbilisi presenting the album “Tutu”, dedicated to Miles Davis.
This time, he came with his “Renaissance Tour,” and was greeted with ovations from the very first cords. The band was new except for his faithful friend Alex Han, saxophonist. Marcus Miller on bass clarinet and bass, Lee Hogans, trumpet, Adam Agati (another good chum) on guitar, Brett Williams on piano, and Robert “Sput” Searight on drums were the other musicians.
Miller had reminded his band that an extraordinary, energetic audience awaited them in Tbilisi. For an encore they played twenty minutes nonstop.
Miller performed classical jazz, but on 29 October Avishai Cohen and Strings offered a variety of treats: R&B, swing and soul, even Latino as a finale, and all very lyrical and touching. The musician is the father of an 11-month-old daughter to whom he dedicated one song from the album. Cohen was the Festival’s “discovery,” and his “Jewish Lullaby” left almost no one indifferent.
“I love my daughter so much that sometimes I think I am a mother”, Cohen noted, adding that music has no boundaries, so it does not matter whether you are Jewish or Christian, and his audience showed its appreciation. Two violas, violin, cello, oboe, drums, piano and double bass - which Cohen himself played – combined for an unbelievable effect. Nitai Hershkovits on piano and Cordelia Hagmann on violin were particularly worthy of mention.
To conclude, Cohen offered a dizzy solo – a celebration of improvisation. He also sent Besame Mucho as a special gift to the audience, as well as a famous hit by The Beatles. “I was excited to come here, but I am overwhelmed. You are a very nice people”, said the sophisticated, intelligent, handsome, intellectual Israeli singer, bassist, composer and arranger, as he said good-bye.
But the main event was Natalie Cole, a world renowned musician and daughter of Nat King Cole. The dress in which she appeared was amazingly beautiful. The organizers say her appearance represents two steps forward for the future of the Festival, and her concert, scheduled for 75 minutes, was prolonged to 2 hours. She performed all her hits. The hall was overwhelmed with emotion when the great Nat King Cole appeared on a screen and together they performed “Unforgettable”. Then the duet performed in Spanish, only for the second time, after a premier in London.
“We have new equipment since 2008. So the problems that had existed before then have vanished,” Kakha Kandelaki, Marketing Director of Eastern Promotion told Georgian Journal.
“Now, we can really enjoy it and receive all high-class singers without any hesitation,” he went on, confiding that all the jazz stars would be leaving Georgia with contentment, which is a good sign both for the festival and for whole country.
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