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Umbria Jazz Winter #19, Days 1-2: December 28-29, 2011

Umbria Jazz Winter #19, Days 1-2: December 28-29, 2011
Sara Villa By

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Days 1-2 | Days 3-5

Umbria Jazz Winter #19
Perugia, Italy
December 28, 2011-January 1, 2012
In an Italy where the cuts inflicted to the cultural sector by the last Berlusconi government led a figure like Riccardo Muti to publically express his indignation, Umbria Jazz Winter # 19 was a confirmation of the incredibly rich and original patrimony that Italian arts and music have to offer on the international scene, including constant international projects realized by Italian jazz musicians and foreign icons like a piano duo featuring Danilo Rea and Michel Camilo, which enflamed Teatro Mancinelli on December 30, 2011.

Berklee/Umbria Jazz Clinic 2011 Award Group

The very first concert of the 2011 festival was a lively set by the group of students who won the Berklee/Umbria Jazz Award. This prize traditionally ends a series of summer jazz seminars held by specialists from Boston's Berklee College of Music at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, with the winners coming together as a group, this year organized and introduced by Italian bassist Giovanni Tommaso. The talented jazz musicians of this band, aged 13 to 22, revealed an exciting profile of young jazz in Italy and beyond. Along with drummer Andrea Ruffa, pianist Marco De Gennaro, alto saxophonist Francesco Pacillo, trumpeter Cosimo Boni and singer Giuliana Doré, the formation also included Israeli guitarist Eran Sabo.

The repertoire showed an extremely sensitive rearrangement of immortal jazz standards such as "Cherokee," "Anthropology," "At Last" and "I Got Rhythm." From the very beginning of "Cherokee," Boni revealed a peculiarly limpid tone and surprisingly mature command of breathless, long-held notes. On "Misty," De Gennaro's extremely smooth piano intro demonstrated a lovely taste for romantic minimalism, à la Erik Satie, while Sabo responded with a piercingly calibrated fortissimo.

On Ron Carter's "Eighty-One," on the other hand, Tommaso displayed a mixture of classical jazz bass intertwined with a very funky sonic texture. Finally, the carefully curated rhythmic changes in "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" allowed chance to fully grasp Ruffa's subtle sense of dynamics and the beautiful timbre of Dansé's voice, which moved from pianissimos to fortissimos with great ease.

Overall, the band gave the impression of a fully mature group rather than an ensemble of young jazz musicians at the beginning of their career. The happy enthusiasm of their youth was nothing but an added value to this high quality first professional performance.


Memorie di Adriano—Songs of Adriano Celentano's Clan

A play on words only apparently based on novelist Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian (1951), the evening show which inaugurated Teatro Mancinelli was, in fact, a tribute to one of Italy's most acclaimed singers, songwriters and politically active idols since the 1950s, Adriano Celentano. If his voice is most famously linked to his version of Paolo Conte's "Azzurro" abroad—an unofficial anthem for all Italians—his broader repertoire is well-known inside his native country.

Neapolitan singer Beppe Servillo delivered versions of Celentano's songs imbued with a flair for poetic extremes and Pindaric flights, typical of the Neapolitan folk song tradition. This style reached its height in "Storia d'amore," a song about love-hate relationships and passionate, never-ending jealousy.

The musicians—saxophonist Javier Girotto, trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso, double bassist Furio DiCastri, pianist Rita Marcotulli and drummer Mattia Barbieri—navigated the high waves of Servillos's powerful climaxes with joy and total harmony, at times introducing them with impossibly fast and loud intros, almost mirroring the interior laceration of the lyrics on "Una storia come questa." In other cases, they backed the softness of Servillo's pianissimos with whispering, caressing phrasings, as in Girotto's solo on "A mezzanotte sai."

The concert showed a well-balanced and original mix with the pop tradition introduced by Celentano's successes and the contemporary jazz sonorities of the top-notch jazz musicians onstage.


Fabrizio Bosso & Javier Girotto Latin Mood Sextet, Vamos

Vamos—the forthcoming second album featuring trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso, saxophonist Javier Girotto, pianist Natalio Mangialavite, double bassist Luca Bulgarelli , drummer Lorenzo Tucci and percussionist Bruno Marcozzi—sums up, in a word, the constant sense of vibrant motion which is the very soul of its original compositions. Live, this fibrillating matrix was even more evident and contagious. The musicians were extremely loud yet emotionally close to the audience from the very first restless register of sax and trumpet on "Ochenta."

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