Back Roads Beat

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The World's Northernmost Jazz Festival: Polarjazz 2008 in Longyearbyen, Norway

Read "The World's Northernmost Jazz Festival: Polarjazz 2008 in Longyearbyen, Norway" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini


Polarjazz 2008 Longyearbyen, Norway January 30-February 3, 2008 This is where people will come after Doomsday: a town 600 miles from the North Pole whose idea of fun is hosting the world's northernmost jazz festival in the middle of winter. A glacier-covered land where the sun doesn't shine from October 26 to February 15 and where carrying a gun almost everywhere is necessary to avoid being eaten by polar bears. Where a vault ...

1,389

Refugees find harmony on Norway's northern edge at Varangerfestivalen 2007

Read "Refugees find harmony on Norway's northern edge at Varangerfestivalen 2007" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini


(Note: Mark Sabbatini will reporting daily from the world's northernmost jazz festival, PolarJazz, starting Jan. 30 in Longyearbyen, Norway. As preview of the Scandinavian Arctic's jazz scene, this is his feature from last summer's festival in Vadso, on the northern edge of the country's mainland.)When the U.N. needs a place to send refugees fleeing war-torn Africa, the northern tip of mainland Norway doesn't seem like a natural fit.But David Akoiwala, a construction worker from Liberia, found ...

1,237

The 2007 Riviera Maya Jazz Festival: Almost Free For You Today

Read "The 2007 Riviera Maya Jazz Festival: Almost Free For You Today" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini


A free trip to a jazz festival near Cancun, complete with luxury trappings. All I'm expected to do in return is write something about it.What could possibly go wrong, aside from a few meddlesome skeptics questioning my objectivity?To them here's my assessment of the 2007 Riviera Maya Jazz Festival: Greatest. Festival. Ever. Just kidding. A three-day, six-concert festival featuring headline shows by commercial stalwarts Marcus Miller, Tower of Power and George Benson doesn't get ...

1,067

Tragicomic Tones in Turkmenistan

Read "Tragicomic Tones in Turkmenistan" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini


Banishment from the country takes effect with the publishing of these words.Assuming otherwise is foolishness in Turkmenistan, the most repressive and two-sided country of the scores I've visited seeking jazz in the most remote and unusual places on Earth.Brilliantly lit marble monuments and unerringly smiling faces camouflage a serpent's nest that strikes instantly with any hint of my being a journalist. It's officially treason, punishable by life in prison, to write negative impressions about the world's ...

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2007 North Sea Jazz Cruise Days 9-12: Land-ho! Causing Waves At The Festival

Read "2007 North Sea Jazz Cruise Days 9-12: Land-ho! Causing Waves At The Festival" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini


Day 1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9-12

(Author's note: While the “gee-whiz" factor ought to be diminishing after a decade of dealing with digital music, I'm in absolute raptures discovering a large number of concerts from the 2007 North Sea Jazz Festival available as free streaming audio from their website. Anyone smart enough to use Google can find something like Audio Hijack ...

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2007 North Sea Jazz Cruise Day 8: School Daze With McCoy Tyner, Amateurs And A 'Ship Pianist'

Read "2007 North Sea Jazz Cruise Day 8: School Daze With McCoy Tyner, Amateurs And A 'Ship Pianist'" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini


Day 1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9-12Despite the questions some cruise ship passengers ask ("how high above sea level is this town?"), learning opportunities are prominent for people supposedly on a relaxing vacation.Lectures, multi-day classes and even full-blown university courses can soak up time traditionally meant for algae facials and chocolate buffets. Some universities charter ships long-term for ...

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2007 North Sea Jazz Cruise Day 7: Taking Aim At The Audience

Read "2007 North Sea Jazz Cruise Day 7: Taking Aim At The Audience" reviewed by Mark Sabbatini


Day 1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9-12 They traveled 500 miles in one day to come aboard for 90 minutes and play one of the best gigs of the cruise. Their reward? A near-empty lounge with probably the lowest audience. Two members of the German hyper-avant trio [em] made the long trip to Hamburg where Holland America Line's Rotterdam was ...


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