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Four-Day Cotai Jazz & Blues Festival 2014 kicks off at The Venetian Macao

Talented international bands compete for HK$550,000 in prizes

The four-day admission-free Cotai Jazz & Blues Festival 2014 kicked off Thursday at The Venetian® Macao. Twelve finalists from around the world have gathered at The Venetian Macao for the Cotai Jazz & Blues Festival competition, featuring a total prize pool of HK$550,000 in cash. This annual fun-filled festival is once again supported by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government (ICM).

Visitors to The Venetian Macao thronged the festively decorated outdoor lagoon area Thursday for a chance to hear the talented bands playing on the festival’s first day of competition. The official start of the festival was announced by Ciaran Carruthers, Senior Vice President and Director of Venetian and Plaza Operations, followed by a fabulous opening performance by Bleu Rascals, last year’s festival champions.  

Back for a third time, the Cotai Jazz & Blues Festival has become one of the signature events at The Venetian Macao. One of the highlights of the festival this year is rising English jazz star Anthony Strong who delivered a marvellous performance Thursday night. Over the next few days of the festival, revellers can watch fantastic admission-free jazz performances at the outdoor lagoon area  by 12 talented finalists from all over the world and other amazing jazz performers. Adding even more fun, there will also be jazz performances at The Venetian Macao’s St. Mark’s Square during the four-day festival, surprising visitors and guests throughout The Venetian Macao with delightful performances.   

The integrated resort’s outdoor lagoon area has been transformed once again into New Orleans Mardi Gras through performers, lights, beads, international food and music. Visitors milled around Thursday, enjoying the extensive fairground with family areas, face painting for kids, romantic outdoor gondola rides, as well as Streetmosphere performers, lights, beads, and international music. Adding to the fun this year is a second stage, floating in the lagoon area, and an additional chill out area, along with many food and beverage options and an expanded seating area.  

Bleu Rascals’ lively opening performance at The Venetian Macao’s outdoor lagoon area attracted a crowd of spectators of all ages. “I’m having so much fun tonight,” commented one festival attendee. “There’s music, food and games, and these beautiful Mardi Gras decorations – I love seeing The Venetian Macao transformed like this. Plus, these bands from around the world are amazing – the live music is my favourite part.”

Entries for the Jazz & Blues Festival competition were open to individual artists, vocalists, instrumentalists, and groups of up to six musicians from anywhere in the world. The 12 competing finalists will be whittled down to three prize winners over the course of the weekend, with first prize to receive HK$250,000; second prize HK$150,000; and third prize HK$100,000. This year’s competition is also introducing a Special Recognition Award, with HK$50,000 to go to a band generating an amazing public response, but not finishing in the top three, for a total prize pool of HK$550,000 in cash.

Judges Xu Kui (saxophone and oboe lecturer at the Macao Conservatory, and representative of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government), Antonio Cabrita (jazz pianist), Michael Cloeren (founder and producer of the Pocono Blues Festival) and Tomos Griffiths (Creative Director of Entertainment, Venetian Macau Limited) will watch each of the 12 bands perform in 30-minute sets for visitors over the four days of the Cotai Jazz & Blues Festival. Bands will be assessed on their style, improvisation, technique, musicality, performance and audience response, leading to a final round with six shortlisted bands playing a half-hour set each in the final showdown on the last day of the competition. The three winners and a special award winner will be announced at an 11:30 p.m. ceremony Sunday night.  

The 12 finalists are:
·         3-0-3 Tango Fusion (Hong Kong)
·         Skyline (Taiwan)
·         Afro Jazz (Brazil)
·         Soulmate (India)
·         Budda Power Blues (Portugal)
·         The Kandinsky Effect (France)
·         Lowcal  (Philippines)
·         The Moreira Project  (Mozambique)
·         Old Style Sextet (USA)
·         The Northern Governors  (Finland)
·         Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds (USA)
·         Trio Ricardo Special  (Hungary)

The Cotai Jazz & Blues Festival is open 6 p.m. to midnight Friday (Oct. 10), and 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 11-12) and is admission-free.

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