Keith Jarrett returned for the second year with his trio featuring Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette: they represented the very best that jazz could offer at the time, with their fantastic repertoire of American jazz classics. The programme also featured another two piano maestros, the rising star Brad Mehldau with his crystalline sound and superb melodic taste, and the evergreen Ahmad Jamal, still full of energy despite his years. The Festival was a sell-out, with the Frontone, the theatres and clubs always packed. This renewed success of Umbria Jazz was sealed by the final concert featuring Paolo Conte with his Razzmatazz, the Asti-born lawyer’s personal homage to the pioneers of jazz music.
Another two Italian singers, Vinicio Capossela and Nicola Arigliano – the veteran exponent of swing – were among the featured artists. Then there was Dee Dee Bridgewater paying homage to Kurt Weil. The Pavone Theatre, on the other hand, witnessed the return of the Gil Evans Orchestra, put together by the band leader’s son, Miles Evans, together with many members from past versions of the band: Lew Soloff, Gary Valente, John Surman and Hiram Bullock. However, signs that the jazz hierarchy was changing came from the late concerts held at the Morlacchi Theatre, featuring a series of Italian jazz musicians rousing the audience, including: Stefano Bollani, Danilo Rea, Enrico Rava, Giovanni Tommaso, Rosario Giuliani and Roberto Gatto.