After so many years writing about that time of the year when jazz lovers all over the country – and also overseas, are preparing for Garana Jazz Festival, I finally arrived here. For those who don’t know, for 22 years now, the Garana Jazz Festival has attracted a chilled-out crowd for jazz in the forest. Chilled-out in both senses – the village is in the mountains and the evenings are cool, and sometimes rainy – one of the specifics of this festival.
Everyone tells that Garana Jazz Festival is a once in a lifetime jazz experience, for the atmosphere of its surroundings. And this is literally the truth. The Semenic Mountains are absolutely amazing – the roads are winding through the wild woods, with no service on your phone and breathtaking scenery. And then you are there – the main stage is in kind-of-a-valley where the sound is incredible, while the other parts of the festival happens in Garana village – at La Rascruce Inn, the place where the festival was born and in the Valiug Church, which has incredible acoustics.
The first surprise for me was the chill-out feeling you see once you are entering there. Everybody seems to know everybody, people are extremely kind, kids are enjoying the live music sessions and friendly dogs are walking free offering you puppy eyes for some cuddles. Then, everybody seems to be more than prepared for this festival – people come here with their own blankets and chairs (yes, it gets really cold sitting down the stumps). Last but not least, the quality of the public – they knew the lineup, they could tell you which are the highlights, what’s a must and why should you stay there to enjoy the festival.
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Only been there for the last two days of the festival, I pretty enjoyed the Cuban jazz sessions from Roberto Fonseca Trio (Cuba) – where people where dancing out in the cold night under the clear sky full of stars (me included), while some were making themselves more comfortable for the Sly & Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvaer feat. Eivind Aarset & Vladislav Delay (Jamaica, Norvegia, Finlanda). On Sunday, the lineup was wow – it started in Valiug Church with the Romanian Teodor Pop, then the magic of live music went to La Rascruce Inn for a jam session with Alex Calancea Band (Moldova) and Horea Crișovan Acoustic Trip (Romania), while at evening, Poiana Lupului had the most amazing lineup – for the first time in Romania was Ekalavya – Abhijith P S Nair, Mohini dey, Sandeep Mohan, Joe Johnson, Arun Roop from India and the one and only Stanley Clarke Band (USA).
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It’s a must – for sure, whether you are a jazz fan or not. The vibe of the festival is great and the Semenic mountains are wonderful. Tips: during the daytime, you can lay and sunbath near the lakes – Valiug Casa Ponton is an option or Trei Ape resort.