Umbria Jazz Winter: Orvieto, Italy, December 28, 2012 - January 1, 2013
Ottolini's trombone style passed from stomped fast tempos, to mockeries of muted bars, to loud, resounding and held notes. A touch of southern American folk music in Rico Tognoli's banjo style alternated Paolo Botti's romantic viola and Paolo di Giuli's lively cornet. The happy, athletic presence of Guido Bombardieri and Derek Hitman on sax was heightened by Zeno de Rossi's quick drumming.
A bluesy hallelujah, dominated by Ottolini's heartfelt trombone, was preceded by a swing ballad led by Franz Rezzoni's understated poetics on piano and Danilo Gallo's subtle double bass.
As the narration unfolded, with the Benny Goodman pieces played with the natural touch of a virtuoso by Paola Scarponi on clarinet, the atmosphere seemed to be more and more joyful, and to move towards an optimistic ending. Ottolini, deus ex machina of the project, directed the band with irony and stunning technique showing a trombone style that was, itself, the perfect homage to Beiderbecke's impeccable uniqueness.
The jazz formation Isoritmo presented an original multimedia show, dedicated to some of the key female figures of the Twentieth century. The visuals were directed by Massimo Achilli and featured the artistic works of French painter Marie Reine Levrat. The show "Elle, singulière, plurielle" began with an abstract piece, focused around vibraphonist Gianpaolo Ascolese, as a portrait of Grazia Deledda, winner of the Nobel prize for literature, was being shown onscreen. Then followed the antiwar song by Boris Vian "Les joyeux bouchers" perfectly adapted for Paola Massero's spiritual voice. This version of Vian's work created a stunning vocal parallel to the moving icons of the women who marked the last century, from Rita Levi Montalcini, to Rosa Luxembourg, from Françoise Sagan to Billie Holiday.
Gerardo Iacona's piano phrases revealed a surprising range of vocabulary running throughout the history of jazz, while saxophonist Filiberto Palermini created metallic stresses which perfectly complemented Rodolfo Rossi's piercing marimba and Elio Totti's smooth bass.
The post-modern, faux-naïve paintings by Marie Reine Levrat were crosscut with documentary images, summing up, between color and black and white, years of great contradictions as well as amazingly courageous and charismatic women.
Giovanni Guidi Trio
Museo Emilio Greco, one of the most intimate settings of UJW Festival, was particularly fitting for Giovanni Guidi Trio's concert. The rarefied essentialism of Guidi's arrangements and his preference for lower dynamics made him sound like a secret whisperer. If, at times, his signature approach reminded one of the fact he grew under the obvious influence of Jarrett's solipsistic traits, more original were his prayer-like exchanges with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joao Lobo, who backed Guidi's musical meditations with abstract passages, and minimalist brush strokes, suggesting the solitude and melancholia of some futuristic landscapes. Even the final "Quizas Quizas" instead of following the warm emotional context of Nat "King" Cole's vocal version was stripped of its sparkly aura to essentialize its melodic frame and transform it into a more geometrical, yet nonetheless highly touching experiment.
Quintorigo featuring Eric Mingus
Documentary feature of Hendrix's interviews and Woodstock appearance accompanied Quintorigo's set dedicated to the American guitarist and legend of rock. The group's string instruments were electronically distorted, transformed into guitars and hyper- reverberated, reproducing chaotic 1970s sonorities, alternated with sudden, natural pizzicatos and bowed notes, almost to remind that they were, originally, a cello, a violin, a viola and a bass.
Their version of Hendrix's "National Anthem," in parallel with real footage of the Vietnam war, clearly felt drenched in the most contemporary pacifist movement, and the concert suddenly felt like a touching invocation for international dialogue on all levels.
Andrea Costa's vocals in "Sweet Angel" gave a softer touch to the rock 'n' roll, blasted sonorities of both strings and rhythm sections. A breathtaking section on sax counterbalanced his scat variations by fully embracing Hendrix's sonorities while at the same time exploiting the loud, athletic potentialities of his instrument. Eric Mingus powerful, blues voice, conveyed a rougher and soulful touch to Quintorigo's version of "Hey Joe."
This was a solo concert moving from stride piano classics by Jelly Roll Morton to ironic, smooth vocals, classical introductory passages quoting Brahms and Liszt, and a humorous tambourine surrounding the careful piano vibratos with a more casual atmosphere of impromptu street music.