Keith Jarrett, the most celebrated of jazz pianists, made his return to Umbria Jazz, after a long period of public inactivity following his contraction of chronic fatigue syndrome. Accompanied by his formidable rhythm section – Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette – Keith played at a wet and cold Frontone, where he soon warmed up the crowd with a spectacular set. That year’s Festival celebrated the memory of the great Nat King Cole, with the presence of his daughter, Natalie, and ventured into Cuban territory with the veteran group Buena Vista Social Club – the real thing, not the more modern reincarnation thereof – featuring the magnificent crooner Ibrahim Ferrer, together with Omara Portuondo and Ruben Gonzalez.
It also paid homage to the high priest of bebop, Thelonius Monk, with an all-star band going under the name “Monk Tentet”, featuring Steve Lacy, Phil Woods, Johnny Griffin, Harold Land and Billy Higgins. The Italian singer-songwriter, Lucio Battisti, was also remembered by soloists such as Enrico Rava, Giovanni Tommaso and Roberto Gatto playing some of his songs, accompanied by the Arturo Toscanini Symphony Orchestra. For lovers of trad jazz, the Frontone hosted Wynton Marsalis, an increasingly important figure on the American jazz scene, firstly leading the Lincoln Center Orchestra, then paying homage to the late-great Louis Armstrong, before celebrating the 75th birthday of James Moody, taking part in a conference on Dizzy Gillespie, teaching the young people attending the Berklee College of Music’s clinics, and (best of all) performing a sublime duet with John Lewis at the Morlacchi Theatre.