The international Forum Fest “Jazz Across Borders” (JAB), one of the world’s largest business conferences on jazz, took place on November 13-14 online. The event was attended by more than 10,000 people from across 70 countries.

“Once again, Jazz Across Borders Forum Fest has confirmed its status as a unique platform that unites fellow-thinkers from across the world and provides the ultimate setting for a cross-cultural dialogue. Expressed in figures, more than 5000 people from across 50 countries attended our festival as part of the St. Petersburg Cultural Forum in 2017-19, more than 300 bands from across 20 countries applied for JAB Showcases, and many artists, after asserting themselves at JAB, were invited to perform at festivals and prestigious venues in the US, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, South Korea, Indonesia. Since we went online this year, we had to abandon some of the traditional formats. However, our 16-hour online broadcast was viewed by more than 10,000 people from across 70 countries, which means that people’s interest in JAB didn’t wane,” says Igor Butman, National Artist of Russia, founder and art director of JAB.

The program of the Forum Fest was divided into 5 sections: JAB Conference (discussion sessions, roundtable discussions, Public Talk), JAB Workshops with world-class musicians, Matchmaking sessions, Listening sessions and Student Bands Contest.

JAB 2020 was attended by more than 50 speakers from across 13 countries. Over the course of two days, they discussed online education, grant support for jazz projects, survival of music industry amid the pandemic, community building around jazz projects, new financial models in the concert industry, digital platforms for album distribution, etc.

The main speakers of the business program included: Stephen Webber (USA), Emmy winner, composer and producer, Dean of Berklee College of Music; Alexander Ryzhinsky (Russia), Rector of the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music; Allen Morrison (USA), contributor to the magazines DownBeat and JazzTimes; Sheila Anderson (USA), radio host of WBGO; Paul Pace (UK), music bookings coordinator of Ronni Scott’s Jazz Club; Sébastien Vidal (France), Program Director of TSFJAZZ, Nice Jazz Fest and the Paris jazz club Duc des Lombards; Giambattista Tofoni (Italy), General Manager of Europe Jazz Network; Tuğçe Alpaslan (Turkey), Director of the Jazz Society of Turkey and Ankara Jazz Festival; Alexander Beets (the Netherlands), Director of Amersfoort Jazz Festival; Ernst Wiggo Sandbakk (Norway), General Manager of Trondheim Jazz Festival, any many others.

One of the highlights of the business program was the Public Talk “Jazz in Times of Change” with Igor Butman (Russia), founder and art director of JAB, National Artist of Russia, and Wynton Marsalis (USA), nine-time Grammy winner and Pulitzer Prize winner.

The special guests of JAB Workshops were Robert Glasper (USA), jazz pianist and producer, three-time Grammy winner, Emmy winner, and Dianne Reeves (USA), one of the best jazz singers of our age, five-time Grammy winner.

Though online, the program of the Forum Fest included traditional one-on-one meetings with Russian and foreign jazz experts. JAB Matchmaking resulted in 18 productive dialogues between Russia, Italy, France, Great Britain, Israel and Romania.

JAB 2020 introduced brand-new Listening sessions where leading Russian and foreign music journalists and critics were listening to 30 tracks from jazz albums released in 2019-2020. As a result, the musicians got expert reviews and an opportunity for a wide public exposure.

In addition, JAB Online held the 2nd Student Bands Contest. This year we received more than 50 applications and selected 7 for the final. The judging panel included Jason Olaine (USA), Vice President of Jazz at Lincoln Center; Igor Butman (Russia), National Artist of Russia, Director of Jazz Academy, President of JAB; Kirill Moshkov (Russia), editor-in-chief of the Jazz.Ru magazine; Leonid Vintskevich (Russia), Merited Artist of Russia, founder and art director of Jazz Province Festival; Olga Yushkova (Russia), director of Helicon Jazz Club, producer of Jazz at the Old Fortress Festival; Nick Levinovsky (USA), music legend, founder of the famous Allegro band. The first prize – an invitation to perform on the 9th International Festival “Future of Jazz” in 2021 – was taken by Andrey Bataleev Quartet from the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music.

About JAB

JAB is the first and only professional platform in Russia to bring together local and international jazz communities. This year it was online.

JAB was first held as part of the 6th Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum in 2017. For the fourth year running, it has been providing a unique setting where Russian and foreign musicians can discuss topical issues of the industry. Over the course of 4 years, JAB has been attended by more than 15,000 jazz amateurs and connoisseurs from across Russia and 75 other countries.

JAB has become the Saint Petersburg venue for the world’s jazz elite, including Kurt Elling and Patti Austin, some of the best modern vocalists and Grammy winners; Adam Schatz (USA), producer of Winter Jazz Festival; Simon Cooke (Great Britain), Managing Director of  Ronnie Scott’s Club; Peter Gontha (Indonesia), producer of Java Jazz Festival; Carlo Pagnotta (Italy), founder and producer of Umbria Jazz Festival; Lee Mergner (USA), editor-in-chief of the JazzTimes magazine; Larry Simpson (USA), Vice President of Berklee College of Music; Steven Bensusan (USA), President of Blue Note Entertainment; Frank Bolder (the Netherlands), Program Manager of North Sea Jazz Festival; Darryl Pitt (USA), General Director of Depth of Field Management; Jae Jin (South Korea), founder and producer of Jarasum International Jazz Festival, and many ohers.

The Forum Fest has held more than 200 various events, such as lectures, roundtable discussions, discussion groups, workshops, showcases, gala concerts and concerts in the iconic jazz clubs of the city. For the fourth consecutive year, JAB has been giving Russian and foreign musicians a unique opportunity to show off their talent in front of the world’s leading producers.

Press service of Jazz Across Borders