Umbria Jazz Winter #27, that of 2019-2020, was the last Umbria Jazz event to take place in a “normal” way, without having to pay a price to cancellations, downsizing and constraints imposed by the pandemic. Umbria Jazz Winter #28 is the first to return to the usual formula. In Orvieto, normality had been interrupted, and from Orvieto it is resumed.
Umbria Jazz Winter offers its audience as many as fifty events over five days of the festival, with a program that begins in the late morning and ends in the wee hours. Seventeen bands, mostly residents, are on stage, with a total of more than eighty musicians on stage. There will be the usual venues, from Teatro Mancinelli to the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, from the Emilio Greco Museum to the Palazzo dei Sette. There will be Jazz Lunches and Jazz Dinners and two New Year’s Eve dinners to the rhythm of jazz. Obviously, and above all, there will be a billboard that in quality lives up to the Festival’s tradition, with exclusive events and artists at the top of the international jazz scene.
Every effort has been made by the Umbria Jazz Foundation and the institutions to create a Festival worthy of the restart. Orvieto once again becomes Umbria’s winter showcase with that mix of culture, entertainment, sociality and tourism that is an indispensable part of the regional identity.
First and foremost, the playbill presents a major event: the new project by Bill Frisell, one of the most innovative artists on the contemporary scene, with the Umbria Jazz Orchestra. The project is an exclusive production of Umbria Jazz. Frisell will also be featured in a solo performance.
Still on the subject of guitar, we will hear Lionel Loueke’s solo tribute to what Loueke himself calls his mentor, Herbie Hancock. And another great guitarist, Brazilian Romero Lubambo, is part of the trio of Sarah McKenzie, an elegant singer/pianist who in her formative years also gained experience in the Umbria Jazz Clinics, with cello virtuoso, also Brazilian, Jaques Morelenbaum. Three artists whose glue is a refined and unconventional approach to song.
A common thread is the song form, declined both as vocals and in instrumental translation.
Sophisticated vocalist is Allan Harris, with the band that produced his latest record, in which he pays homage, in part through family memories, to 1950s-60s Harlem.
Family air, with the quintet of Giovanni Tommaso and his daughter Jasmine, an established vocalist on the California scene. On the program, Italian and American evergreen songs.
More songs with the duo Luca Aquino – Giovanni Guidi, who comments on the project as follows, “We wanted to play beautiful, simple melodies and make them our own: that’s how this duo was born, in a natural and sincere way.”
To top it off, a gracious entertainer as much as a solid musician: he is Nick The Nightfly, who with his quintet replays a long musical itinerary from the hits of the golden years of jazz to the songs of Sting.
A living jazz legend is George Cables, hard bopper of great tradition and direct witness (he was there!) to some of jazz’s greatest bands. In Orvieto he will be with a trio (with special guest saxophonist Piero Odorici) and in the always evocative piano duo format. His partner is Sullivan Fortner, several years younger, one of the successful 30-year-olds on the current jazz scene. Fortner will also be featured in some solo piano performances.
Important space is reserved for Francesco Bearzatti, with two bands: the Tinissima Quartet presenting his recent “Zorro,” and a completely different quartet for a revisiting of the music of the great but underrated Tony Scott. Finally, Black Music, which never fails at Umbria Jazz, with Anthony Paule’s band.
Opera: Maurizio Rosella