Vintage Italian Postcards

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jazzy 35th birthday for Umbria Festival

Umbria's renowned jazz festival kicks off this weekend, with another dazzling line-up of top Italian and international stars from the world of modern music.
Umbria Jazz, the largest European event of its kind, gets under way on Friday morning with a traditional street parade through Perugia's medieval centre, led by the New Orleans-based Coolbone Brass Band.
The festival, celebrating its 35th birthday this year, still refuses to be pigeonholed, insisting on a mix of old and new, as well as a variety of jazz-related genres spanning experimental, instrumental, vocal, pop and rock.
The top international names appearing include legendary jazz greats such as tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins in his only European performance of the summer and pianist Herbie Hancock.
Stars from a slightly younger generation range from the celebrated guitarist Pat Metheny, through award-winning vocalist Chaka Khan, to R&B singer-songwriter Alicia Keyes.
Alternative rock band R.E.M. will play the festival's closing concert on July 20.
But as well as giants from the US jazz scene, the festival also promises a host of Italian greats.
Top of the list is Italy's most famous jazzman, trumpeter Enrico Rava, who will perform a tribute to Chet Baker on the 20th anniversary of his death.
Internationally acclaimed pianist Stefano Bollani will appear alongside Brasilian guitarist and singer Caetano Veloso in an unexpected and keenly awaited pairing.
Other names on the program include jazz clarinettist Gabriele Mirabassi, saxophonist Stefano di Battista with trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso, and the pianists Ramberto Ciammarughi, Danilo Rea and Riccardo Arrighini.
Umbria Jazz, which was founded in 1973 by Carlo Pagnotta, will host around 300 concerts over 10 days.
As usual, it takes place in a variety of different venues throughout the region, including public squares, gardens, theatres, monuments and even restaurants, although the big-name events are staged in the open-air Santa Giuliana Arena in Perugia.
Events at the arena require tickets but many of the festival's other events are free.
Throughout the festival, two outdoor platforms stand at either end of Perugia's central thoroughfare with free concerts of accessible, popular jazz music.
In total, around 30 concerts are staged each day, running from late morning until well past midnight.
Umbria Jazz runs from July 11 until July 20. For more information and a complete program visit the festival's website at: