62 | Beograd » Belgrade From 1976, selection was handled by Saša Radojčić and the festival maintained a similar concept: severalmajor stars fromtheU.S., alongside the best domestic jazzmusicians and artists fromEurope.The concerts were mainly held at Trade Union Hall, while jam sessions took place at the Dom Omladine Belgrade Dance Hall, and the festival only “returned” to Pionir Hall for the 1980 edition’s opening performance of the world’s then most popular jazz fusion band, Weather Report. During the difficult years of so-called economic stabilisation, the festival almost collapsed, but was “saved” in 1986 thanks to the great support of the U.S. Embassy for the return concert of Miles Davis in a packed hall of the Sava Centre. Having restored the interest of Belgraders, the festival continued in the spirit of its halcyon days until 1990, with a programme that presented, among others,HerbieHancock, DizzyGillespie, Nina Simone and the Modern Jazz Quartet. And then, in the autumnof 1991, with the civil war fast approachingBelgrade, the management of Dom Omladine Belgrade issued a statement confirming the postponement of the festival. That break lasted for an excruciating 15 years… The returneditionwas organised in2005, under the slogan ‘Tradition and Futurism’. We wanted to invite an audience that remembered thefirstNewport events, but also new kids or music lovers who perhaps have an “ear for jazz” but don't yet know it. In the words of programming manager Dragan Ambrozić: “There is no tradition worth following that doesn’t have a futuristicdimension, and there is no futurism if it isn’t worthy of the past." The festival was opened by Dave Holland, then one of the world's leading jazz musicians. The Great Hall of theBelgradeYouthCentrewas jampackedandtheatmosphere was red hot, while several hundred people were left without tickets. Returning to Belgrade were Al Foster and Dave Liebman – the heroes of the first Newport editions. While walking the streets of the city for the first time were the likes of Denys Baptiste, Chris Potter and Nicola Conte – illustrating the bright future of jazz. The newconcept didn’t only ensure a balance of various aspects of jazz anda crossoverwith thepopularmusic of the new age, but alsomore younger artists, as well as a shifting of the focus from the U.S. to Europe. Recognising the festival’s importance to the creating of the best cultural image of the capital, the City of Belgrade declared it an event of special cultural interest in 2007. And thanks to the European spirit, in 2014 the festival became the first (and to date only) Serbian member of theEuropeanJazzNetwork.Theevent is regularlyattended by numerous foreign journalists and photographers, coming fromtheU.S. toRussia, and fromtheUKto Italy. The 16 “new” editions are rich in unforgettable moments,guestperformancesofgreat jazzartistsandnumerous talented individuals who only later became famous. Charles Lloyd, Marc Ribot, Wayne Shorter, PatMetheny, CharlieHaden, JohnScofield,CassandraWilson,AnatCohen, Kurt Elling, Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Enrico Rava, Joachim Kühn, Tomasz Stanko, Henri Texier, RobMazurek et al.These are just some of the jazz heroes that Belgrade has welcomed since 2005. This autumn marks half a century since the birth of the festival, which inspired the slogan of this year’s 37th edition: JAZZFLAME. Indeed, thefire thatwas litback in the day byMiles, Dizzy, Ornette andMonk still burns today.The loyal audience– the sameaudience that formeda 2,000-voice choir withChickCorea back in1979, refused toletSonnyRollins leavethestagewhentheelectricitywas cut in the auditorium in 1980, and waited for the bakery across the street to open at a 1984 jam session with Tony Scott that lasted until themorning – kept the flame of jazz burning during the long break and, with their hunger for jazzmasters, reignited it with the first tones of the Dave Holland Quintet in 2005. With an awareness that we have no right to deprive them of their encounter with Planet Jazz, last year we wereamong the rareevents tobeheld liveduring thepeak of the second wave of the Coronavirus, under the slogan ‘Jazz Resistance’. And now we’re back with a full flame: throughout theentireweekof jazz, 25ensembleswill perform in the halls of Dom Omladine Belgrade and Kombankhall,withover100musicians from18countriescovering three continents. The biggest star is Maria Schneider, who has spent a quarter of a century as themost respected composer and arranger of orchestral jazz. She has won seven Grammys for her work, as well as several dozen awards of leading jazzmagazines. Forherdebut appearance inBelgrade, she will performthe standoutworks of her entire career, conducting the Cologne Subway Jazz Orchestra. This event will be symbolically held at the same venue and on the same date (31st October) as the first concert of the inaugural Newport festival in Belgrade, at which the then greatest jazz arranger, Duke Ellington, launched the "A" train in the Serbian capital. Thesecondevening, at theKombankHall,will enable Belgraders tofinallyseeAzerbaijan’sAzizaMustafazade, a pianistwithmiraculous technical abilityanda singerwith a heavenly voice. Prior to these spectacular concerts, Serbia’s youngest jazzmusicians – fromthe jazz department of the Faculty ofMusic and the StankovićMusic School – will present themselves. Youth and experience also connect the two American ensembles: trumpeter Theo Croker will combine jazz with hip-hop for the opening, while DŽEZMIJA HORN / JAZZMEIA HORN FOTO: Dragoslav Nedić