Days 1-3 | Days 4-6 | Days 7-10 "You know," said one American tourist to his friend as he walked past the tents on the first day of Umbria Jazz, "Ever since we got here last week this is all we've heard anyone talk about."
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 Marsalis and 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.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.