Travel, Cooking, Doing, Eating and Drinking (that about covers it)

All That Jazz (Umbria Jazz Festival)


Umbria Jazz 2012
Perugia Jazz Pete

Toronto in the summer is a fabulous place. The weather is nice, patios are in full swing and the city is host to numerous festivals and live music venues. The end of June finds us right in the middle of the Toronto Jazz Festival. The event attracts over 500,000 people to the city over 10 days. More than 2,000 musicians give over 400 free and ticketed performances at the 50+ event locations throughout the city. Since it’s inception in 1987, this has been one of the most popular summer festivals in the city.

At my other home location, starting mid-July, there is another 10-day jazz festival. This festival started about 15 years earlier than the Toronto event and is definitely something to circle on your calendar.

The history of the Perugia jazz festival goes back to 1973 when the idea was born to create an event to bring musicians to an area that has a long-standing passion for jazz. It originally was like a free Italian Woodstock, with famous jazz musicians instead of famous rock stars. The event has played host to jazz musicians and fans from around the globe.

The first events took place starting August 23, 1973 and, over the next 4 days, concerts were played in Terni, Perugia and Gubbio. Original headliners were Weather Report with Joseph Zawinul and Wayne Shorter (who has become a staple for the festival) and The Swingers with French trombonist François “Frick” Guin.

In the following years, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Sony Rollins and Buddy Rich, to name but a few, played in various concerts throughout Umbria. In 1982, after a 3-year pause, the event started up again and made Perugia its permanent home.

If you love music, this is a great spot to see your favourite performers in smaller venues over 10 days in early to mid-July. Tickets are fairly easy to get for the “big” events (which seat a few thousand people) that take place in the Santa Giuliana stage (which doubles as the Perugia soccer field when the festival isn’t on). For ticket information, please click here.

Umbria Jazz 2012
Santa Giuliana Arena

Past headliners include Tony Bennett, Buddy Guy, Lady GaGa, Sting, Marcus Miller, Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Steps Ahead, Diana Krall, Pat Metheny, Sony Rollins and many talented members of the Marsalis family.  The music usually starts around 11:30 am and often goes past midnight to the early hours of the morning.

Sting at Umbria Jazz 2012
Sting, up close and personal in Perugia

Sometimes after their sets, you can meet the singers/performers for autographs or photos.

nikki & kb
Canada’s Nikki Yanofsky and Katharine

There is music throughout the town with free concerts in the beer garden and Piazza IV Novembre.

New Orleans’ Cool Bones Jazz Band playing while they walk around the streets of Perugia

The beer gardens are a great place to hang out, have a drink and a bite to eat and listen to free music. The atmosphere is very relaxed and extremely friendly. Language barriers are easily crossed over a love of music and a couple of drinks.

The town is set with music stages and performers
Peter and his father, Brian, enjoying a beer and some music
Umbria Jazz 2012
Elin and Katharine at the beer garden – another advantage to Italy, good wine at the beer garden

Umbria Jazz also offers summer jazz clinics with the Berklee College of Music. Approximately 200 lucky students from Berklee and around the world come for the 12 days to take part in classes and hands-on experiences which foster musical growth and development of aspiring musicians. All classes and ensembles are taught in the world-famous Berklee tradition with its emphasis on the use of jazz and contemporary music as the focal point for musical understanding. 2016 marks the 31st year of the collaboration (over 6,200 students have taken part since its inception). The program is open to applicants, so if you are interested, click here for more information and how to apply.

Umbria Jazz – it’s a great party and you are invited!


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