The Summer Sounds of Barga Jazz 2020

Scott Hamilton

The BargaJazz Festival, which began as a competition for original work in 1986, is today a crucial stepping stone for artists looking to break into the European jazz scene.  This year’s showcase, held from August 18 – 30, is dedicated to the late Giancarlo Rizzardi, who founded the BargaJazz Festival with Bruno Tommaso. Continuing its tradition of importance in the world of Italian jazz, due to the Coronavirus health emergency, all events will be held outdoors.

The first two evenings feature the four winners of the BargaJazz Contest.  The competition, with the primary objective of giving young composers and arrangers the opportunity to have their works performed by a professional orchestra, fosters the growth of their production.  With strong emphasis placed on originality, a panel of expert judges selects finalists from a wide field of applicants to compete for the contest’s two awards: Best New Group and Best Soloist, given in honor of former BargaJazz pianist Luca Flores.

The festival opens Tuesday, August 18 at 9 pm with the Pasquale Paterra Images Trio and the Tommaso Perazzo Trio.  The next evening the Emmanuel Losio Group and the Valentina Fin Trio perform at 9 pm.  Both events will be hosted in the Villa Gherardi Gardens. The music continues on Thursday, August 20 with group Twelve Gates at 9:30 pm and Friday, August 21 with All Around Trio at 9:30 pm and the Mario Raja Quintet at 8:30 pm, all in the Villa Gherardi Gardens.

On Saturday, August 22, the evening kickstarts in the Palazzo Pancrazi at 6 pm with a free tribute performance featuring the music of Dexter Gordon, known as the giant of the tenor sax.  Continuing at 9 pm the Luca Gusella Trio entertains in the Villa Gherardi Gardens with the Rossano Emili Quartet at 10:30 pm.

Sunday, August 23 showcases the talent of students from the Siena Jazz University with three groups providing musical entertainment.  At 5:30 pm the Westcoast Street Band will conduct the public through the streets and squares of the historic center while playing their music.  At 6:30 pm Dimitri Grechi Expinoza performs “Oreb-The Spiritual Way” for free in the Duomo di San Cristoforo.  The evening of jazz concludes back at the Villa Gherardi at 9 pm with the Enojazz Quintet and Jam Session.

The jazz continues the following week with the Modalità Trio playing clarinet, bass and drums on August 25 and Scott Hamilton and The Alkaline Trio on August 27.  On Friday, August 28 the audience can enjoy Melez, a trio with vocals, drums and keyboards with Saturday’s concert featuring Andy Sheppard on tenor sax and Rita Marcotulli (the latter won a Davide di Donatello—Italy’s equivalent of an Oscar—for a movie soundtrack) on keyboards. The festival concludes Sunday with the Angelo Lazzeri Trio and Extended Singularity showcasing Fulvio Sigurtà on trombone.  All performances will be held in the Villa Gherardi Gardens.

Admission to concerts costs between €5-10 with students of music admitted for €1; for complete information, visit the website.  (rita kungel/additional reporting by alex harrison)