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Live Reviews

Umbria Jazz Winter #18 Days 3-5: December 31, 2010-January 2, 2011

By Published: January 19, 2011
During the festival, Paolo Fresu's Sardinian roots were emotionally shaken by a sad event. On December 28, a group of 200 shepherds from his region were blocked by the police in Civitavecchia, while trying to reach Rome and share the hardship of their present situation with the Ministry of Agriculture. Fresu chose to dedicate his concert to those shepherds—and to all those who, like them, had to experience a Christmas time full of pain and sacrifice.


Brass Bang!, from left: Paolo Fresu, Steven Bernstein, Gianluca Petrella

Paying respect to these workers, Brass Bang's intro to the late Lester Bowie
Lester Bowie
Lester Bowie
1941 - 1999
trumpet
's "Zero" displayed the brass instruments in a marvelous slow tempo, followed by Gianluca Petrella
Gianluca Petrella
Gianluca Petrella
b.1975
trombone
's masterfully elegiac trombone solo. In his version of the traditional "No Potmo Reposare," Fresu opted for an electronically reverbed sound on his tenor horn, while trumpeter Steven Bernstein's arrangement of Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones

band/orchestra
' "As Tears Go By" followed, with syncopated, Mick Jagger-inspired, ironic imagery.

Bernstein's colorful suggestions were backed by Fresu, adding water to his trumpet; by Petrella, replying with a funnily childlike one-note raspberry; and by tubaist Oren Marshall, opening his own "Orange Ear" with a unique moment of breathlessly fast tuba phrasing, accompanied by a humorous dance. "Filippo Tommaso Marinetti lives," one would have liked to shout, together with Fred Buscaglione, whose romantic "Guarda che luna" was chosen as the band's encore, because, as Bernstein says, "rearranging one iconic piece of the country where you are playing is a question of style!" And people loved it.

Gospel at Its Best: The Selvy Singers

The Selvy Singers well know that gospel is not only made of vocals, but also of theatricality and of gestures which, in the church choir tradition, have to be shared with the audience. Theirs is not a performance; it is a ritual, and one aimed at praying in a happy way.



Which is why The Selvy's January performances—at both Palazzo del Popolo and in the monumental beauty of Orvieto's Dome—welcomed the new year with the group singing together during Sunday mass. They danced with brooms on "Sweeping Through the City," and mimicked shining rays with their hands on "This Little Light of Mine," inviting the enthusiastic audience to follow their gestures. Powerful voices—unafraid of loud, long-lasting notes—and joyful charisma were the keywords of their presence at Umbria Jazz Winter 2010.

Roberto Gatto Quintet: "Remembering Shelly"

Roberto Gatto, an extremely elegant drummer who recently performed at New York City's Smalls and Kitano, presented a tribute to Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
1920 - 1984
drums
, with a quintet featuring keyboardist Luca Mannuzza, saxophonist Max Lonata, trumpeter Marco Tamburini
Marco Tamburini

trumpet
and bassist Giuseppe Bassi. Gatto movingly shared, with the audience, his admiration and gratitude for Manne and his inspiring style, which clearly textured the Italian drummer's background.

Gatto's rhythmic skeleton is made of resistant, yet willingly small bones. He is a man of tiny details: he can be loud when he wants to, but mostly prefers to indulge in unexpected staccatos and sudden, poignant stresses to the whole arrangement. He is always present and recognizable, yet never imposing. This quintet is but one of his many projects as a leader: the latest, The Music Next Door (EmArcy, 2009), being one of those all-star formations within Italian jazz that can't help but produce some unexpected and savory surprises.

Gatto colored his tribute with some juicy anecdotes about Manne. As a result—and like Quintorigo's tribute to Mingus—the concert turned into a quick and humorous lesson on the history of jazz: for example, when Manne was asked to record "Fever," with Jimmy Bowen, the composer's score said, "play it like Shelly Manne." The producer got angry because—not knowing who he was talking to—Manne had not played, "like Manne"; the drummer had to tell him who he was, leaving Bowen speechless.

Four Others

With a concept inspired by Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
's Four Brothers, Four Others followed the same recipe: three tenor saxophones (Harry Allen
Harry Allen
Harry Allen
b.1966
saxophone
, Eric Alexander
Eric Alexander
Eric Alexander
b.1968
sax, tenor
and Grant Stewart
Grant Stewart
Grant Stewart
b.1971
sax, tenor
), and a baritone (Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
b.1956
sax, baritone
), together with piano (Rossano Sportiello
Rossano Sportiello
b.1974
piano
), double-bass (Joel Forbes), and drums (Chuck Riggs
Chuck Riggs
Chuck Riggs
b.1951
drums
).


Four Others, from left: Grant Stewart, Eric Alexander, Harry Allen, Gary Smulyan


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