The nights were cool and a slight breeze provided just a hint of the winter days soon to come as jazz lovers converged at the Abu Dhabi Jazz Festival.
An audience of approximately 6,000 from near and far, both young and old, and from all walks of life celebrated the spirit of jazz in all its forms.
Thursday night — the first night — set the tone with the opening act, Marwan & The Mojos as well as Jonas Desai and Cormac Kenevey, who exposed the audience to their unique range of songs and sounds. These had the audience eagerly anticipating the headliner of the night — Guy Manoukian and his band. As soon as he started, he had the crowd dancing anywhere they could find space with his combination of Arabic, English and Greek music.
"My music is a result of my experiences throughout my life. The key for me is to know how to channel my normal life into the music while at the same time tell stories. Even performing in this event will cause me to create music," Manoukian said.
When asked why he never sings on any of the tracks that he has released, Manoukian responded, "I'm a composer and performer. The feeling of accomplishment that I receive from a successful track is unmatchable. It's very different to be able to make people hyped up on music alone."
Kenevey, the Irish jazz singer, said, "I really enjoyed performing on stage. The audience here is amazing."
He added that he was excited to see the other performances that would be making up the festival line-up before travelling to his next destination.
On the second night, the audience was treated to performances by Paul Akiki and The Colour of Rhythm, who provided a rock and an international jazz mood respectively.
Natalie Williams and Ben Grandfelt picked up where their counterparts left off. Williams, who wowed the audience with her impressive vocals, said, "The crowd here in Abu Dhabi is a very interesting mix of people and it seems that they are really enjoying themselves."
The final night saw a culmination of all the talent and genres that had graced the stage up till then. The Afif Brothers Quartet revealed their unique fusion of Arabic and Western music while Abram Wilson showcased his immense talent on the trumpet. Anita Wardell serenaded the crowd in a medley of songs and styles, while Larry Garner closed the festival.
All good things come to an end, and the Abu Dhabi Jazz Festival was no exception. But don't despair, there's always next year!