Festival History

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, Caddebostan Cultural Center, Zorlu Center PSM, Volkswagen Arena, Nardis, Bova, Summart, Soho House, Zuhal Müzik, Tamirane 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, Bonobo, Enrico Rava, Nicholas Payton, Amir ElSaffar and Two Rivers, Saul Williams, Tony Allen, Christian Scott, Mark Guiliana, Chucho Valdés & Gonzalo Rubalcaba , Shabaka & The Ancestors, Ala.Ni, Howe Gelb Piano Trio, The Bad Plus, Till Brönner, Aydın Esen Group & Can Kozlu, Omer Avital Qantar, Shinya Fukumori Trio, The Comet Is Coming, Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, Bugge Wesseltoft & Erkan Oğur & Friends, Charles Llyod Sky Trio feat. Gerald Clayton & Marvin Sewell, The James Carter Organ Trio, Sarah Mccoy, Mats Eilertsen Trio, Jakob Bro Trio feat. Jowy Baron & Thomas Morgan, Vaudou Game, Alfa Mist, KOKOROKO.

Every year, Akbank Jazz Festival presents many different novelties in its program to its participants under themes such as Respect for Masters, Jazz from Europe, British Decal in Jazz, Special for the Festival, Jazz and Beyond, Jazz in the Room, Jazz Time, Jazz on Campus, Jazz in High Schools and Workshops. "Jazz in High Schools" workshops that have been in the festival program since 2011aimed to introduce and popularize jazz music by reaching high school youth and brought together high school students and jazz musicians.

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, 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 presented a short selection of the 60's and 70's Turkish jazz panorama in this album.

In 2020, Akbank Jazz Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary with a special project worthy of its mission. During the pandemic period where all the dynamics changed, concerts could not be held and events were postponed, it did not slow down and carried out an archival project by making a recording that reflects the present situation of Turkish Jazz. Akbank Jazz Festival, which started a retrospective work that took a x-ray of 30 years with its special recordings, interviews and documentary shootings, thus supported creativity despite all the constraints of the pandemic period and aimed to leave an effective, meaningful and permanent work to the Turkish jazz world.

With special recordings for the 30th anniversary of Akbank Jazz Festival; the project which includes 30 original compositions and the performance of nearly 80 artists, was of great value not only as an album, but also in terms of reflecting the spirit of the past 30 years and our time, with its documentary dimension consisting of the recording process and artist interviews.

In addition to that, in 2020, Akbank Jazz Festival organized five “Year Long Concerts”for celebrating its 30th anniversary and sixteen “Jazz State of Home Concerts” where home concerts have been broadcasted live through Instagram during pandemic period.

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 Competitionç.

Akbank Jazz Radio. Akbank Jazz Festival is a member of European Jazz Network.

30th Akbank Jazz Festival

30th Akbank Jazz Festival

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Seminar Existence and Freedom

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Seminar In search of a new artist: curatorship as an existentialist practice

Akbank Sanat Youtube

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