The year of the insult: “Perugia, damn city” cried Keith Jarrett, a bundle of nerves and bothered by the flashlights and his own coughing, got up and walked out of the Santa Giuliana Arena. This break-up came after years of successful performances, but also of tantrums, like when in 2000 he got mad because the temperature at the Frontone fell below 19° C; or when, again in 2007, he demanded a waiter who had stopped smoking for at least three months. The breaking off of his relationship with Perugia was not remedied until the fortieth year of the Festival. In the meantime, Umbria Jazz elected its new symbolic leader, the “Saxophone Colossus” Sonny Rollins who, with his white beard and his magical tenor sax, was to grace the Festival for years to come.
The other great jazz veteran Ornette Coleman (a contemporary of Rollins) performed with a quintet comprising three bass players and his son Denardo on drums, playing a number of old favourites such as “Turnaround” and the magnificent “Lonely Woman”. That year’s programme also included one of the great old singer-songwriters, Henry Salvador, who at the venerable age of ninety performed like a much younger man. Another very good concert was the performance of Brad Mehldau with Pat Metheny, while the runners-up category included the unusual pairing of George Benson and Al Jarreau, and the by-now fragmented Sly & the Family Stone.