Tuesday, August 21, 2007

July 2007 - Perugia, Italy - Umbria Jazz 2007

While in Perugia we attended 5 major jazz performances in amazing venues ranging from an ancient theater to a concert hall inside La Roccia (the city's medieval fortified walls), featured in the Umbria Jazz Festival, one of the most important festivals of its kind in the world, second only to Jazz Fest in New Orleans.We enjoyed a bunch of free concerts on the central Piazza IV Novembre, including Austin DeLone R&B Band,
featuring Toni Green, a soulful singer with a powerful voice and two gospel-like back-up singers.
Huge crowds made it out for these concerts and they were the most fun of all of the events.
The acts here included all types of jazz bands, swing bands, and even high school and college bands.
We even got down to the swing band for a little while in an effort to work off that huge Mexican meal we ate.
First we attended the Keith Jarrett concert and this is the only picture we have of the event because Jarrett came on the stage like a raving lunatic and insisted that no photos be taken of him or else he would walk off the stage. He made his point in rather crass terms in English. Hopefully, most of it was lost in translation. Nevertheless, the Italians were insulted as was the commission that puts together the festival. The next day the commission announced that Jarrett would never be invited back to play in Perugia.

We were so disappointed by the Jarrett concert that we took off during the intermission and headed to see the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

Ramsey Lewis played in at the Teatro Morlacchi magnificent baroque era theater perfectly suited to host this legendary band.
Lewis and his trio were magnificent showing their age and experience in playing in all types of venues for so many different audiences. They seemed genuinely appreciative of the small yet adoring audience that came out for this midnight concert.
We headed to a small concert at La Roccia called Revelations: The Music of Milt Jackson. This concert featured 2 big names - bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Mickey Roker and pianist and arranger Mike LeDonne. They all played with Milt Jackson.

Milt Jackson is known for his vibraphone music and compositions. Despite not being part of the original band, the young man playing the magical sounding vibraphone was brilliant and made the concert a lot of fun.
The acoustics are amazing in this completely enclosed and vaulted section of the interior of the fortress walls surrounding Perugia.
Later in the week we headed back to Teatro Morlacchi to watch the SanFrancisco Jazz Collective.
The band played to a full house, in large part because this year Joe Levano, a very talented and famous Italian saxophonist, is touring with them.
That does not take away from the fact that Dave Douglas, their brilliant trumpeteer, always draws large crowds. The Collective produces music by allowing each member to compose and arrange one song for the group, then teach it to the group and when they are all ready, the song is recorded. Therefore, the Collective invites talent like Levano in each year to act as a guest member and provide new composition and a fresh sound.

The vibraphonist for the Collective was so brilliant, we could not capture a photo of him without his rapid movement making it blurry.
We finished off the week attending a Sonny Rollins concert where he played as part of a sextet.
He was amazingly energetic despite being well into his 70s.
His sextet included other huge names like the bassist Bob Cranshaw.
We were thrilled to see these living legends performing together siting in an ancient theater in the breeze valley of Perugia. It was a memorable experience.

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