Summer Jazz Festival Kraków was founded in 1996, the year the famed Cellar Under the Rams (Piwnica pod Baranami) club and cabaret being also since mid-fifties home to prestigious jazz music events celebrated its 40th birthday. Inspired by the legendary artistic underground guru and the cabaret’s leader, Piotr Skrzynecki, the founder and the director of the festival Witold Wnuk presented in July 1996 a month-long series of everyday concerts at The Cellar. The Festival has been extending its scope annually, gradually introducing events not only at The Cellar but also at other venues – Krakow Philharmonia, Krakow Opera House, Radio Krakow, Manggha, ICE Krakow, Kijow Centre, all jazz clubs.
Since 2001 every first Sunday of July has been dedicated to an all-day long event called The New Orleans Sunday featuring New Orleans Parade attended by thousands of spectators as well as open-air concerts at cafes surrounding The Main Square.
Since 2007 Krakow’s Jazz Night presents modern jazz simultaneously at Krakow’s Small Square and some 20 clubs and concert venues, while Solo Piano Weekend features outstanding pianists performing solo recitals. Since 2015 the Festival has been accompanied by International Jarek Smietana Jazz Guitar Competition organised on a bi-annual basis.
Presently Summer Jazz Festival is the biggest of the kind in Poland and one of the longest ones in Europe, featuring frequently all the brightest stars of Polish Jazz as well as close to 100 international stars such as at Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Jean-Luc Ponty, Leny White, Lee Konitz, Branford Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval, Joe Lovano, Maria Schneider, John Scofield, Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham, Richard Bona, Kurt Elling,Greg Osby, Nigel Kennedy, Larry Coryell, The Rosenberg Trio, Ricky Ford, John Abercrombie, Nils Landgren, YellowJackets, Vladislav Sendecki, Alan Broadbent, Bobo Stenson, Mike Stern, NDR Big Band, Didier Lockwood, Bill Evans, Dave Liebman, Candy Dulfer, Robert Glasper.
The Festival comprises over 100 concerts where several hundred musicians perform for the audience of over 50.000 music fans.