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Poor opening night for the Dubai Jazz Festival 2010

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Nevermind the lack of jazz, the quality of the musicians leading the line-up for the first day of the three-day Dubai Jazz Festival in the Dubai Media City was poor, with the honorable exception of Charbel Rouhana.

But even his finely tuned modern Arabic music could be justly criticized as the wrong act for a jazz festival. The same might easily be said of the other bands playing last night.

More jazz please

The James Taylor Quartet is no doubt popular on the nightclub circuit in the UK but was an odd choice for the Dubai Jazz Festival. Its singalong interaction with the audience bordered on something from a football stadium, and the awful Hammond electronic organ should have been pensioned off years ago.

The opening French guitarist U-Nam was arguably the closest to jazz music last night, and deserved a higher billing and bigger audience. As the first act of this long series only a few dozen heard him play.

Indeed, attendance seemed down this year, at least judging from the first night. The old headline sponsors Cadillac and Phillips are also missing, and the remainder are mainly barter sponsors providing services for the show.

Perhaps it is a mistake to hold the event during the Dubai Shopping Festival. Maybe shoppers are not jazz fans. But this is a pity. The Dubai Jazz Festival is now in its eighth year and has become the best annual music event in the city.

Hopefully the British singer David Gray can raise the game tonight. His performance two years ago was splendid and very popular. There are also three promising jazz acts worth listening to: Attila Molnar, Jane Monheit and Lao Tizer.

Last night line-up

The last night also holds some promise with another British singer James Morrison topping the bill and some some rising stars, Laura Izibor and Brett Dennen.

Festivals like this have good and bad years and tend to learn from their mistakes. Ticket prices are higher this year, perhaps reflecting the lack of sponsorship, and the VIP section at the front was mainly empty on the first night.

This reflects the economic downturn in the UAE this year – perhaps next year will be better.

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Written by Peter Cooper

February 18, 2010 at 11:13 am

Posted in Culture, Travel

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