SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – Ukrainian musicians will be playing this year at the San Jose Jazz Winter Festival which kicks off Thursday. They will be blending their style with American musicians.

Far from bombed-out buildings in Kyiv, roughly nine Ukrainian musicians are staying at the Miro Building in Downtown San Jose. Olga Vekenshtein, the guest curator from Kyiv, says musicians will get a mental break from the war. 

These are volunteer soldiers by day, but musicians by night. Now they can share their music alongside American jazz artists.

“All these artists like and love this music and learned roots about this music, so it’s important they play this music with artists from here,” Vekenshtein said.

Massimo Chisessi, the director of marketing at San Jose Jazz, says their organization saw an opportunity to bring Ukrainian artists there to highlight their cultural identity.

“Their folkloric traditions includes experience with Europe and the world. All of the things that have happened to them as a people, but expressing that in a very modern way that relates strongly to American jazz,” he said. 

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Vekenshtein hopes that Americans hearing Ukrainian artists play miles away from home may make a difference in the war.

“The more people understand the difference between Ukraine and Russian identity, it helps to win this war,” she said.