The Joy of the Florence Jazz Festival
Organizers of the Firenze Jazz Festival were doubtful just a few weeks ago as to whether there would be a fourth edition of the music event. Yet, despite the complications of COVID-19, the Jazz Festival of the city of Florence returns from September 17 – 20.
With 10 performances in various iconic outdoor venues, from the Villa Bardini to the Poggio Casciano estate in the hills surrounding Grassina to Santa Rosa Bistrot on the banks of the Arno, music lovers are invited to come, listen to jazz performed by local and international musicians and perhaps enjoy a drink al fresco.
The poster for this year’s festival pays tribute to the roots of jazz in the African American community, featuring four women singers who represent the greatest jazz singers in history. The graphics of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone recall the long-standing struggle against racism and sexism.
The festival kicks off Thursday, September 17 in the streets of the Oltrarno with L’Orchestrino, a brass band from Livorno that moves with the same ease from New Orleans jazz to free improvisation, playing also Duke Ellington style blues and Afro-Cuban rhythms. The ensemble begins in front of Palazzo Pitti at 5 pm and will later stop at 7:30 pm at the Santa Rosa Bistrot and finish up the evening’s music at the Circolo La Rondinella del Torrino about 9:30 pm. All the day’s events are free.
Yet another musical offering on the date is the UK Legacy, a tribute to the English jazz and progressive rock scene of the 60s and 70s. “Swinging London,” a mecca where writers, fashion personalities, directors, actors and avant-garde artists gravitated during these decades, produced some of the most creative energy and projects in the 20th century. The event, beginning at 9:15 pm, will be held in Sala Vanni, Piazza del Carmine’s concert hall dating back to the seventh century but updated with state-of-the-art audio systems and technology, can be enjoyed with admission of €13 in advance or €20 at the door.
Those who wish to include a dining experience in their jazz evening can book at the restaurant Le Tre Rane in Ruffino. Dinner, served at 8 pm in the courtyard, will be accompanied by the tunes of the Nico Gori Hard Bop Trio, featuring the clarinet and saxophone of Nico Gori. The trio, performing a repertoire of American jazz standards, promises a journey through various styles of jazz. Dinner and music costs €25 with reservation required at +39 378-305-0219 or +39 055-649-9712 or by email at Hospitality@ruffino.it.
The music continues Friday, September 18 at Villa Strozzi (Via Pisana 77) at 7:30 pm with the Francesco Zampini Trio entertaining on the outdoor stage of the Limonaia. The young Tuscan guitarist, a 2019 semifinalist for the prestigious International Guitar Competition promoted by the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, brings an original and intriguing repertoire. Free admission, subject to seating availability.
The performance ends at 9:30 pm in the Amphitheater of Villa Strozzi with Tinissima Quartet, a project by Francesco Bearzatti, accompanied by Giovanni Falzone on trumpet, Danilo Gallo on electric bass and Zeno De Rossi on drums. The program, inspired by the fantasy character Zorro, recalls the adventures of the masked man who championed the common people against the malevolent powerful (admission €13 advance/€20 at the door).
The next day’s events, in the magnificent setting of Villa Bardini (Costa San Giorgio, 2-4), feature the Alessandro Lanzoni Trio, with Enrico Morello and Gabriele Evangelista starting their set at 7 pm. Following at 8 pm, jazz pianist Danilo Rea, will present his book “Il Jazzista Imperfetto” (The Imperfect Jazz Player), with host Alessandra Cafiero. The evening wraps up at 9:30 pm with a solo piano concert by Rea, presenting a program of interpretations and improvisations from various styles of jazz. (Alessandro Lanzoni Trio admission €10/€8, or if combined with second concert €5. The book presentation gives free admission until capacity reached. Danilo Rea performance admission €20).
The festival’s closing day, Sunday, September 20, showcases the energetic Girlesque Street Band at the Villa Demidoff Park in Pratolino. The first and only all-female Italian street band, Girlesque includes 20 young musicians who entertain entwining both sound and movement with enthusiasm and playfulness (5 pm, free entrance).
All performances will take place in full compliance with safety regulations relating to the COVID-19 health emergency.
All events can be followed live on the festival’s Facebook page and Instagram with interviews by actress Alessandra Piscopo.
For complete information and reservation for events, see the website: www.firenzejazzfestival.it