Published since 2007
Michael J. West is a music writer, historian, collector, and fanatic in Washington, D.C.
Small wonder. The 10-day, citywide festival is more than just the biggest thing that Perugia, the capital of the small Italian region of Umbria, sees every year. The dozens of artists and hundreds of music fans who swarm in from all over the world make it one of the most important jazz festivals in the Europe, featuring prime practitioners of every conceivable style. Where else can one see Wynton Marsalisand Cecil Taylor on the same bill? How many other places can boast six consecutive performances by the AACM's Great Black Music Ensemble on the same evenings that Freddy Cole, Maceo Parker, and Burt Bacharach can be heard just a few minutes away?
And those acts are just the icing on the cake. Umbria Jazz is also a major showcase for the formidable Italian jazz scene, featuring most of the brightest stars in that universe, as well as daily doses of free roots music in a program that bills itself as "Non Stop Music"only a slight exaggeration. For the jazz fan, then, this medieval city of 160,000 residents is, in mid-July, a veritable playground. As you may gather, this gigantic festival has few equals.
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