About 20 years ago the manager of the festival, Dr. Emil Iliev – a well-known dermatologist, acupuncturist, a doctor with an enviable practice in Bulgaria and Germany, opened a clinic in Bansko. The clinic welcomed guests from different European countries. Here they learned about a healthy lifestyle, underwent treatment or simply relaxed – but they also wanted good entertainment. A series of concerts were staged with the participation of well known Bulgarian chamber musicians, as well as jazz performers like Camelia Todorova, Vassil Petrov, Lyudmil Gergiev, Vili Kazasyan, Pepi Slavov, Rumen Toskov - Rupeto, Mitko Shanov etc. For these artists the scenic Pirin mountain town was a discovery and their common dream was to start a jazz festival. Dr. Iliev convinced the then mayor of Bansko that the town could host an international jazz happening. At least for a week. Jazz in Bansko? At a time when work in the field is at its busiest? It seemed impossible. Then.
Now we recall this story with a smile.
Bansko has changed its appearance in the last decades – hotels, ski runs, endless construction. The jazz festival is definitely one of the reasons to expand the main livelihood of the locals. According to the latest statistics, a huge percentage of the town’s population is engaged in tourism and related activities. And during the festival days thousands of music buffs from different parts of the world head for Bansko.