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New York Umbria Jazz

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

Jazz and Cabaret Performance Reviews

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

New York Umbria Jazz
(Click Here for Umbria Jazz in Italy, July 2004)
Carlo Pagnotta, Founder, Artistic Director, Producer
info@umbriajazz.com

At
The Italian Cultural Institute
686 Park Avenue at 68th Street, NY, NY 10021
212.879.4242
(Website)
January 12, 2004 and January 19, 2004

Blue Note
131 West 3rd Street
NY, NY 10012
212.475.8592
(Website)
January 13, 2004

NY Hilton
1335 Avenue of the Americas
NY, NY 10019
212.586.7000
(Website)
January 22, 2004

Catering by San Domenico Ristorante
240 CPS at 59th Street, NY, 212.265.5959
(Website)

Umbria Jazz Panelists: Carlo Pagnotta, Stefano Mazzi, Claudio Angelini, Renzo Arbore, and Italian Cultural Institute Officials
and Staff, organized by Enzo Capua.

Featuring: Danilo Rea on Solo Piano (See Lirico CD Review), Stefano Bollani on Piano, Enrico Rava on Trumpet, Gianluca Petrella on Trombone, Rosario Bonaccorso on Bass, and Roberto Gatto on Drums.

Introducing: Francesco Cafiso on Saxophone, with Ray Drummond on Bass, James Williams on Piano, and Ben Riley on Drums.

Publicity by Kim Smith: ksmithpr@earthlink.net and Enzo Capua.

January 12, 13, 19, 22, 2004

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 22, 2004

Umbria Jazz, founded in 1973 by Carlo Pagnotta, was not presented in small clubs and auditoriums, but rather out in the streets, where thousands of people could come together at no expense to learn about and enjoy jazz. Early jazz musicians that performed in the medieval town squares of Umbria were Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and Bill Evans. From 1978 to 1982, the Festival in Umbria was halted, due to the enormous crowds, and re-instated in the town of Perugia, within the historical center. The concerts are mostly free and eclectic in genre and rhythms. There is a Winter Festival during the Holidays in Orvieto, which also shares the foods and wines of the Umbrian region. (Umbria Jazz Notes).

New York Umbria Jazz also celebrated the foods and wines of the region in the various venues organized for this event, spread throughout two weeks in icy January. New Yorkers and visiting artists and guests from Italy were warmed by the hospitality of the Italian Cultural Institute, San Domenico Ristorante’s appetizers and Gala Dinner at Blue Note, Umbrian red and white wines, and of course the hot jazz of the featured musicians, performing in solo, duet, trio, quartet, and quintet. Check the above Umbria Jazz Website to plan a visit to Perugia in July 2004 to catch the spirit of Italian Jazz.


January 12, 2004
Italian Cultural Institute


At a special news conference, held at the Italian Cultural Institute in NY, with its spacious ceilings and ornate moldings and art work, Renzo Arbore, an Italian TV Host, and Claudio Angelini, Director of the NY Italian Cultural Institute, introduced a distinguished panel that included Carlo Pagnotta, Founder, Artistic Director, and Producer of Umbria Jazz, Stefano Mazzi, from Studio Legale Scassellati-Sforzolini, and other special guests. Enzo Capua, Director and Producer of Ta Yu Productions, Corp., facilitated this conference. Thanks to two years of college Italian, I was able to decipher some of the spoken messages, most of which were presented in Italian, and then translated. Arbore and Angelini gave a brief history of Italian jazz, starting with Italian jazz origins in New Orleans, and culminating in Umbria, now called the Louisiana of Italy. It was mentioned that Italy is now the second greatest jazz country, which follows its American model. The Winter Jazz Festival in Orvieto and the Summer Jazz Festival in Perugia combine to bring honor to the Italian jazz community.

Stefano Mazzi spoke about the private association that organizes Umbria Jazz, their work in choosing artists, music, merchandise, books, records, and the ongoing collaboration with the sponsors. This partnership of public and private sectors creates a winning formula. The main square of Perugia holds 250,000 jazz fans, and 50,000 tickets are sold. The success is in bringing culture to the masses. Carlo Pagnotta, Umbria Jazz Founder, thanked Blue Note, a NY jazz club, for this upcoming, historic, one week Umbria Jazz Festival in NY. Pagnotta gave the packed audience an outline of the two weeks of Umbria Jazz events at the Italian Consulate, Blue Note, and the NY Hilton. There would even be collaboration with the International Association of Jazz Educators.

Stefano Bollani on piano and Enrico Rava on trumpet and flugelhorn introduced the upcoming NY Umbria Jazz events. Music ranged from melancholy to Boogie Woogie, and Bollani and Rava matched rhythms and tones. Rava, on flugelhorn, took the lead, after an evocative piano solo. Bollani performed on a Fazioli piano, and his virtuosity was remarkable. Rava, back on trumpet, switched position to face the piano for a dynamic duet. An upbeat piece, Happiness is a Big Prize in Cash, was inspired by a music award in Denmark. Its skipping rhythms and percussive tapping were enjoyable.

A lovely reception followed, catered by San Domenico Ristorante.


Italian Cultural Institute
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Claudio Angelini, Director, Italian Cultural Institute
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Enzo Capua, Ta Yu Productions (See Review, Manhattan Tao of Art)
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Renzo Arbore, Italian TV Host
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Umbria Jazz Officials
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Stefano Mazzi, Studio Legale Scassellati-Sforzolini
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Carlo Pagnotta, Founder, Artistic Director, Producer, Umbria Jazz
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Stafano Bollani, Pianist, and Enrico Rava, Trumpet Musician
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Stafano Bollani, Enrico Rava, and Roberto Gatto, Drummer
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Stafano Bollani
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Stefano Bollani and Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Stefano Bollani and Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




San Domenico Ristorante, Catering
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Enzo Capua and Richard Bellofatto
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Richard Bellofatto and Enrico Granafei (See Enrico on Harmonica at Django Reinhardt 2003 Festival)
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Roberto Gatto
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Stafano Bollani
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Stefano Bollani and Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Roberta and Enzo
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower





January 13, 2004
Blue Note

Inside Perspectives – Conversations with Roberta
Interview with Stefano Bollani, Pianist, Prior to the Gala Dinner and Concert. (Upstairs at the Blue Note).


Stefano Bollani, a young, muscular pianist with long curly hair and a winning smile, honored me with an exclusive interview in the upstairs dressing room at Blue Note. Bollani has played piano since 1978, when he was six. He originally wanted to be a singer, but was told to begin with an instrument, which he did at the Conservatory of Florence. Bollani discovered jazz at the age of twelve or thirteen. All his friends loved pop music, but he started jazz piano at the age of fifteen with Luca Flores in Florence. He played with people older than him, two or three times a week in a Jazz Club.

His favorite classical composers for solo piano are Debussy, Poulenc, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev, all clever for the mind, light and complex at once. He finds these composers harmonically closer to jazz than Mahler. Bollani’s favorite jazz composers are Ellington and Mingus, plus Miles Davis, who was always trying to do new things. Bollani, too, tries to give himself surprises from his music. I asked him if he plays Piazzolla, one of my personal favorites, and he answered that he does play Argentinean music, but by Ginastera and Horacio Salgan. Bollani loves tango music.

Bollani spoke of his solo album (to be reviewed in this magazine in the future). He considers the album a self-portrait, with two songs in Italian-Brazilian/Portuguese style. Bollani plays in Italy with Enrico Rava’s Quintet, with some of the same musicians with whom he will perform tonight. Bollani is on the way to Italy and Paris, after this NY Umbria Jazz Festival. Asked if he likes being in New York, Bollani answered, "I don’t love big cities. I live in my house in the country near Pisa and could not live here in New York. After a few days, I’m not cool. I can take Roma and Copenhagen. But, Paris and New York are too packed."

Bollani then prepared for the concert reviewed below.

Blue Note Umbria Dinner and Jazz Concert

San Domenico Ristorante catered this delicious dinner, which included white bean soup, Umbrian wines, and sweet desserts. There was not one empty seat at Blue Note. This entire Festival has been a sell-out -- extremely popular. In the audience of celebrities were Wynton Marsalis and Isabella Rosselini. The conversations were lively and festive.

Onstage was Stefano Bollani on solo piano. He performed three original works. The first piece, The Fleece Tamer, was driven, edgy, and dissonant, featuring repetitive chords and brilliant, high notes. It was reminiscent of Fellini’s themes and seemed fragmented in a Picasso-esque manner. I sensed influences of his favorites, Satie and Poulenc, as well as Debussy’s impressionism. Elena e Su Violino was evocative of Bill Evans and Poulenc, very soft and moody. The third piece, an exquisite melody, was slightly off-key and quite intense. Bollani referenced Tea for Two in a wild cacophony, as his entire body lifted from the piano bench with the chords.

The next piece, a Boogie Woogie, brought to the stage Enrico Rava on trumpet, Gianluca Petrella on trombone, Rosario Bonaccorso on bass, and Roberto Gatto on drums. In the following work, Rava evoked the memory of Miles Davis on trumpet, with sensational and haunting sounds. When they turned to the feeling of Duke Ellington, Gatto went wild on percussion, and Petrella joined the festive ambiance on an ecstatic trombone, with pulsating, passionate, and progressive tonalities. Then Rava and Petrella played the same tones in fantastic interplay and engaging effects.

Rava dedicated the next song to his wife, Lydia, but called it A Song for Jessica and "got into trouble". Rava has tremendous stage presence, as did the entire Quintet. In this singable and danceable piece, the trumpet took the natural lead. Then, Bonaccorso’s bass and Gatto’s drums alternated in punctuated rhythms. Suddenly, the Quintet ended this playful work in unison. The next piece, played without trombone, began again with Rava in the lead, followed by exotic, Brazilian percussive effects. When Bollani joined in, the quartet melted into a fused sound of ethereal and outer-worldly sounds. The final piece, by Ornette Coleman, featured Gatto’s powerful percussive solo and Rava on flugelhorn. Petrella, Bonaccorso, and Bollani contributed to a smooth and sensational finish.


Enzo Capua, Director and Producer, Plays
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Wynton Marsalis, Lincoln Center Jazz, and Suzanne Adams
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Kim Smith, Jazz Publicist (ksmithpr@earthlink.net)
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Todd and Eileen Barkin, Jazz Producers
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Isabella Rosselini in the Spotlight
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Suzanne Adams Plays
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Roberta Parties
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Giampaulo Pioli, Italian Newspapers Group
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



San Domenico Ristorante, Catering
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Enzo Plays
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Carlo Pagnotta, Founder, Umbria Jazz
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Stefano Bollani on Piano
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Enrico Rava on Trumpet and Gianluca Petrella on Trombone
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Roberto Gatta on Drums
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Rosario Bonaccorso on Bass
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Gianluca Petrella and Rosario Bonaccorso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Gianluca Petrella and Rosario Bonaccorso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Roberto Gatta
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Rosario Bonaccorso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Roberto Gatta
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Gianluca Petrella
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Enrico Rava
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower





January 19, 2004
Italian Cultural Institute

(See CD Review, Danilo Rea, Lirico)

Once again, the Italian Cultural Institute was packed to the rafters. Not only was there not one empty seat, but also the halls and aisles were filled with eager Italian jazz enthusiasts. Danilo Rea played solo piano on the Fazioli from his new CD, Lirico. Rea hums his original, melodic jazz arrangements, set to the themes of traditional opera and lighter opera. Rea plays with impassioned chords that melt into droplets of feathery sounds. His works are rapturous and fluid, with a hint of edginess and angst.

Madama Butterfly’s "Un Bel Di", served us an extrapolated aria that dripped with passion. He even throws in a few bars from Bernstein, I Want to Live in America and Maria, which are songs of hope, against the operatic backdrop of tragic loss. Rea possesses tremendous improvisational qualities, and the rich tones of the Fazioli added depth to the familiar melodies that Rea fused with jazz. In Carmen, Rea added a waterfall of keyboard effects with contrasted tempos. The next work was at once melancholy and classical, soft and sensitive, contrasting with a haunting melody. Rea concluded with a work that begins with driving, dissonant chords and falls into I’ve Got Rhythm, as well as other popular tunes. He hums along as his fingers sweep across the keyboard. The encore was romantic, as Rea plunged into breathtaking, beautiful passages. Another reception of red and white Umbrian wines and San Domenico hors d’oeuvres followed.


Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Francesco Cafiso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



San Domenico Ristorante, Catering
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Roberto Gatto, Drummer
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Kim Smith, Publicist, Claudia Acuna, and Stefano DiBattista (ksmithpr@earthlink.net)
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Paolo Fazioli, Fazioli Pianos, and Sujatri Reisinger, Klavierhaus See Performance at Klavierhaus on a Fazioli Piano
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Enzo Capua, Director and Producer, Plays
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Danilo Rea, Pianist
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Francesco Cafiso, Young Saxophonist
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



San Domenico Ristorante, Catering
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Roberta and Gianluca Petrella, Trombonist
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Italian Cultural Institute Reception
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



San Domenico Ristorante, Catering
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Enzo Capua and Friend
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Danilo Rea, Paolo Fazioli, Gianluca Petrella
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Roberto Gatto and Friend
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Francesco Cafiso and Parents
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Carlo Pagnotta and Friends
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




January 22, 2004
NY Hilton


Tonight was a special opportunity to witness the exceptional talents of a fourteen-year-old saxophone sensation from Italy, Francesco Cafiso. The concert took place in yet another jam-packed venue, the Etrusca Restaurant at the NY Hilton. There was not an extra space for sitting or standing in sight, as the International Association of Jazz Educators was in attendance. Francesco’s parents were proudly seated in front of the band. This renowned band was composed of Ray Drummond on bass, James Williams on piano, and Ben Riley on drums. In the audience were Percy Heath and also Miles Griffith, who joined in later on scat vocals. The first piece, Wayne Shorter’s Footprints, featured Williams’ progressive piano lead, with full, rich notes. Drummond, on bass, and then Riley, on drums, imitated this theme, but more slowly, with almost a vocal quality. Miles Davis’ All Blues, led by Francesco on sax, provided a sax solo that mesmerized this professional jazz audience. People glared into the Hilton windows and swayed to the rhythms on the street. As Francesco warmed up, he slid down chords with wild abandon. Caravan riveted the seasoned audience with its upbeat, seamless rhythms.

What's New started with a long, slow lead on Francesco's sax, an endless breath that sent trembling chords into the air like fretful fireworks. His fellow musicians onstage reflected respect and admiration. Francesco riffed with impressive improvisations, and Williams, too, was incredibly creative and charismatic. In fact, this much older group of musicians seemed to absorb Francesco’s eager energy, as they finished in a roller coaster of sound. Francesco has extreme talent, and this fourteen-year-old is closing the experience gap rapidly. In fact, Francesco showed humility and respect for Williams, Riley, and Drummond, such as when he bent his knees to give Williams the audience sightlines. The musicians returned the favor by giving Francesco strong cues for his solo turns. Riley was powerful on drums, while Drummond had some of the warmest and deepest bass tonalities I have heard.

What began as a young saxophonist and a trio of jazz musicians turned into a brilliantly sounding quartet. Francesco never tired or wavered, until he rested between pieces. But, at his cue, he bounced back with energized poise and presence. Francesco’s parents, as well as the jazz aficionados in the audience, were riveted with rhythm and a connection to talent. Francesco internalized his trepidation and took on the crowd with verve and vivacity. In Lovers No More, the quartet was even more cohesive and electrically charged. Miles Griffith sat in with scat vocals in Now’s the Time. Griffith morphed into a human saxophone, creating a playful, ecstatic, and unpredictable duet with Francesco. For the finale, Cherokee required lightning percussion, and Riley rose to the occasion.


Francesco Cafiso, Young Saxophonist, and Parents
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Francesco Cafiso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Francesco Cafiso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ray Drummond on Bass
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ben Riley on Drums
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Francesco Cafiso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ben Riley
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Francesco Cafiso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Miles Griffith on Scat Vocals and Francesco Cafiso
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ray Drummond and Ben Riley
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Miles Griffith
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Percy Heath, Guest
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




The Saxophone
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Francesco Cafiso Unwinds at the Keyboard
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




James Williams, Pianist
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ben Riley and Friend
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Kudos to Carlo Pagnotta and Umbria Jazz officials and musicians, as well as to San Domenico Ristorante and Umbrian wines, for this rare two week Jazz Festival that filled Blue Note, the Italian Cultural Institute, and the NY Hilton for each and every event. I strongly suggest exploring the Umbria Jazz Summer Festival, to be held this July 2004 in Perugia, Italy. This is a jazz experience well worth the trip. I would book travel and hotel arrangements very soon to assure availability. For further information, contact the Italian Cultural Institute, with chapters across America.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net