Akbank Jazz Festival, the most perennial jazz festival in Turkey, was launched in 1991 with concerts organized in Istanbul. Not only hosting the prominent jazz figures across the world but also paving the way for emerging and promising next-gen artists, the Festival has now made it into a versatile organization by adopting panels, workshops, film screening sessions, concerts and social responsibility projects.
In time, Akbank Jazz Festival has expanded its musical scope by including various electronic and world music projects, along with classical and modern jazz works. In doing so, it reached an indispensable position as an event not only vis-à-vis jazz-enthusiasts, also for enthusiasts of other genres. The Festival was held in a wide range of venues including Akbank Sanat, Aya Irini Museum, Babylon, Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall, Zorlu Center PSM, where it featured numerous major jazz artists as well as artists from other genres and generations including Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Roberto Fonseca, Terje Rypdal, Miroslav Vitous, Nils Peter Molvear, Anouar Brahem Trio, Abdullah Ibrahim, Aydın Esen, Betty Carter Trio, Dave Holland, John Zorn, Cassandra Wilson, Joachim Kühn, Joe Zawinul, Anthony Braxton, McCoy Tyner, Joe Lovano, Egberto Gismonti Trio, Courtney Pine, Pharoah Sanders, Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Arto Lindsay, Richard Bona, Max Roach, Nguyen Le, Dino Saluzzi, Jimmy Smith, Ayşe Tütüncü, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Trio 3, Aki Takase, Sam Rivers, Don Cherry, Richard Galliano, Biréli Lagrène, Stephan Micus, Steve Turre, Charles Lloyd New Quartet, Avishai Cohen "Seven Seas", Arild Andersen Trio, Maffy Falay Sextet, Dusko Goykovich Quartet, Paul Motian, The Ray Gelato Giants, Azam Ali & Niyaz, Robert Glasper Experiment, Vijay Iyer Trio, ZAZ, Christian McBride Trio, Jamie Cullum, Kenny Barron & Dave Holland, Leszek Możdżer, China Moses, Ambrose Akinmusire, Chet Faker, Enrico Rava and Nicholas Payton.
Presented with assorted changes each year, Akbank Jazz Festival reached various cities of Turkey other than Istanbul, with the launch of Jazz on Campus concerts held since 2006. This series of concerts was organized in various cities including Ankara, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, İzmir, Eskişehir, Trabzon, Adana, Erzurum, Kayseri, Kars and many more.
In 2010, Akbank Jazz Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary which was honored by a compilation album, an epitome of its history, and a retrospective documentary and book. In 2011, the 20th edition of Akbank Jazz Festival was awarded the category prize of "Corporate Social Responsibility – Culture and Art" as part of the Golden Compass Awards organized by Turkey Public Relations Association (TÜHİD). Having celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015, the festival compiled a rich collection of contemporary Turkish jazz scene, consisting of 2 CD's. Featuring a limited number of vinyl records released to cherish the quarter-century past, the festival also presents a short selection of the 60's and 70's Turkish jazz panorama in this album.
Akbank Jazz Festival also realized various roaring projects across digital media by gatewaying a whole new dimension for communication with followers through social media. The Festival was granted various awards within the scope of Stevie Awards and Creativity International Awards for its social media projects entitled Akbank Jazz Festival T-shirt Design Competition and Akbank Jazz Radio.
Akbank Jazz Festival is a member of European Jazz Network.