Umbria Jazz 2004
Perugia, 9 - 18 July 2004
The best thing of the 2004 Festival? Mention has to be made, once again, of the wonderful performance by the Keith Jarrett, Gray Peacock and Jack DeJohnette trio. Then the super-quartet starring Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland and Ruben Blades, with their extensive repertoire driven by their expertise and, at times, pure inspiration. The mythical veteran Burt Bacharach, with his delightful collection of songs and his acute voice challenging the rules of intonation (his rendering of “Alfie” was one of the highlights of the Festival). Then there was the rising star of Sinatra-like swing, Michael Bublè, and the evergreen (albeit a little rusty) Manhattan Transfer and the godfather of soul, the excessively theatrical James Brown.
The Liberation Music Orchestra, this time fronted by Charlie Haden and Carla Bley, the band’s original leaders, evoked the formation’s never-waning glory days. The programme also included a star of black pop music, Alicia Keys, with a show specifically designed to offer the greatest possible outlet to the singer’s voice. The veteran B.B. King returned, undaunted, with his own brand of blues. Then there was the unpredictable George Clinton, the master of funk, both genius and rascal. There was more room for refined musical forms in Perugia’s theatres, hence the sparkling sets played by the veteran, expert pianist Hank Jones, a guest of Joe Lovano’s quartet, and by one of the most captivating alto-sax players in the history of jazz, Jackie McLean.