UMBRIA JAZZ 1973-2023
Perugia Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria
7th July – 27th August 2023
To photograph jazz musicians is the easiest thing in the world: the stage lights, the reflections in the brass instruments, the gestures, the eccentric style, the gazes: you would think that you only have to choose the right moment and shoot.
To photograph jazz musicians is the hardest thing in the world: the musicians’ sound and sensitivity must come out of the photo. Body and Soul. Being able to capture it or not makes the difference between a good photo and a common one.
The great photo is the one that – when you look at it – makes you feel the music with the ears of the heart.
You listen to Chet Baker’s lyricism, Miles’ existential melancholy, Mingus’ fury, Monk’s lucid madness, Ornette’s mental abstractions, and Stan Getz’s romanticism.
You see the history of a century flashing before your eyes, narrated by the great photographers of jazz music, whose iconic pictures ended up in books or on album covers. These photos are for those who were there and relive those thrills, and even more for those who couldn’t be there but can recreate a whole world thanks to those pictures.
That’s what you can find in an exhibition for the fiftieth anniversary of Umbria Jazz because this is where the jazz that matters has come over the past fifty years, but there is much more. There is the description of an idea, which became a formula that remains unique through its different forms and eras. Some pictures witness the interaction between the artists and the environment, between the notes of the World (no other music is more international than jazz) and the stones of history, between the sound of contemporaneity and the landscapes of Umbria’s cities and nature. Some other pictures show the audience who have changed their skin and approach during these fifty years. “A Sea of Faces” is the title of Archie Shepp’s album, recorded after his concerts in Umbria: it was the sea of faces of the jazz people he used to see from the stages in the early years of the Festival.
Umbria Jazz is all this: a brilliant invention repeated year after year with obstinacy, sacrifices and passion.
If photographers hadn’t captured all this, much of this history would be lacking. Many young people (and older, too) were in the streets, below the stage, among the public, looking for the right shot. If Umbria Jazz is a shared heritage, we owe it to them because a great picture is worth more than a thousand words.
The fiftieth anniversary of Umbria Jazz is dedicated also to them. It was possible also thanks to them.
Hosting the exhibition that celebrates and recounts the fifty years of Umbria Jazz is an honor for us, which merges with the pleasure of declaring one of our “missions”: to enhance all forms of art in the way is best suited for our projects.
Music and art are a beloved combination for the Gallery: this year increases it by giving back fifty years of people, experiences and work thanks to photographs and posters.
The exhibition “Umbria Jazz 1973-2023” is not a simple story in pictures: it’s a music score on which there are the notes of a festival that succeeded – like no other – in being international first for itself, then for the audience.
Such an ambitious project is the result of a work of excellence, for which I thank the Fondazione Umbria Jazz and all those who make it possible, but it is the far-sighted vision of a man, Carlo Pagnotta, whom we celebrate as much as his creature.