Uzbekistan Celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month – Ari Roland Jazz Quartet Shakes Tashkent

The American jazz band, Ari Roland Jazz Quartet, visited Uzbekistan on April 8-13, 2015 as Arts Envoys in the framework of the International Jazz Festival of Uzbekistan and Jazz Appreciation Month.  The quartet wooed the Uzbek public with their rhythm and enthusiasm, and engaged with students to demonstrate how American jazz styles can assimilate Uzbek traditional music.  This was their second visit to Uzbekistan, and they showed why the language of Jazz transcends cultural differences.  Their two concerts blended a mix of Jazz favorites that all recognized with the rescoring of traditional Uzbek folk music, making them jazz pieces, that had the entire audience stomping and clapping along.

group of people
Creative discussion with Uzbek musicians at the Ilkhom Theatre. (U.S. Embassy photo)

The festival, organized by the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, The State Jazz Orchestra of Uzbekistan and the Ilkhom Theatre, with the support and participation of the several diplomatic missions in Uzbekistan including France, India, Latvia and the UNESCO Office in Tashkent, had the quartet playing alongside local musicians and the general public at the Ilkhom Theatre, discussed musical collaboration, and charmed students and professors alike at the Uzbekistan State Conservatory with inspirational master classes.  On their second day in Uzbekistan the quartet headlined a concert and shared the stage with the Sitar Fusion Group from India, also in Tashkent for Jazz Appreciation Month at the Uzbek State Conservatory.  This impromptu jam session showed clearly that Jazz has no boundaries and can fuse with a variety of musical types.

group of people
Ari Roland Quartet and the Sitar Fusion Group take a bow. (U.S. Embassy photo)

On April 9, the quartet held a series of master classes for students and teachers from two specialized music lyceums in Tashkent.  Students and teachers gathered to learn about American jazz from the quartet, the visiting American jazz envoys also witnessed a passion and enthusiasm for jazz as demonstrated through jam sessions and dozens of questions.

On April 12, the jazz quartet performed before an enthusiastic audience at the Turkiston Palace Concert Hall, the center stage for culture and the arts in Uzbekistan.  Ambassador Spratlen opened the concert for the jazz fans audience, which included the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, Abdulaziz Kamilov.