Swinging Eighth Notes at Prato’s MetJazz

David Murray and Aki Takase
David Murray and Aki Takase

This year’s MetJazz Festival in Prato commemorates the legacy of John Coltrane, an icon who influenced an entire generation of jazz.  The American saxophonist and composer, ever at the forefront of free jazz who played with greats Charlie Parker, trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonius Monk, died 50 years ago in 1967.

Francesco Bearzatti on tenor sax and clarinet, Emmanuel Bex on Hammond organ and Jeff Ballard on percussion open the concert series (all at 9 pm) offering an eccentric take on Coltrane with “Dear John: An Open Letter to John Coltrane” (January 30, Teatro Metastasio).

Next, avant-garde saxophonist David Murray plays his original jazz with pianist Aki Takase.  One of the most versatile figures in contemporary jazz, Takase combines the influence of the musical traditions of her native Japan while improvising with modern free form jazz (February 6, Teatro Metastasio).

Koduko, a duo with Dan Kinzelman playing sax, clarinet and flute and dancer Daniele Ninarello entertain in a former industrial warehouse now converted into a performing venue.  The Hobby Horse Trio featuring Dan Kinzelman on reeds, who immigrated to Italy in 2005, Joe Rehmer on bass and Stefano Tamborrino on percussion, offer their fusion of contemporary jazz and electronica with an engaging playful style (February 13, Teatro Fabbricone).

For the final concert of the series, the Francesco Cafiso Sextet play their brand of jazz on the alto sax, flute, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, piano, bass and drums.  Sicilian Cafiso, well known in the US for his work with Wynton Marsalis, was also a guest artist during the 2012 Olympics in London.  The sextet will share the stage with Prato’s Camerata Strumentale (February 23, Teatro Politeama).

The festival also has two free presentations (reservations necessary at 0574/1837860; museum admission not included).  Vocalist Monica Demuru and Luca Tilli on cello blend theatre and music in an improvisational show inspired by pictures of Aleppo, Syria and the tragedy of that city (February 5, 5:30 and 6:30 pm, Palazzo Pretorio museum).

Dimitri Grechi Espinoza from Livorno will give a short performance on tenor sax conceived as a musical meditation entitled “Angel’s Blows,” achieving an experience between prayer and reflection (February 12, Prato Textile Museum, 9 pm).

Ticket information and booking at www.metastasio.it. (rita kungel)