This time round, Orvieto played host to two bands who had appeared at the more important summer Festival. The first was the Gil Evans Big Band, who had made their mark at the 1987 Umbria Jazz Festival when they played at the football stadium together with Sting, and at several unforgettable late concerts at St. Francis’ church. It was those marathon performances that were brought to mind by the return of this historical band, led by the great leader’s son, Miles Evans, and with several of its legendary soloists. The other historical presence was that of Syndicate, led by the musical wizard Joe Zawinul.
The Austrian keyboard player had longstanding ties with Umbria Jazz (Weather Report had been among the groups playing at the 1st Festival), and with his new band he continued in that tradition with his characteristic blend of jazz fundamentals and keyboard creativity, but with an increasingly ethnical, world-music bent. Another highly interesting project was that proposed by the trombone virtuoso, Ray Anderson, fronting an unusual group – Slide Ride – featuring four trombones. The festival was further livened up by the returning Richard Galliano, the saxophonist Joe Lovano, and Giovanni Tommaso’s quintet.