Festival Review: Fano Jazz By The Sea 2002


Sometimes the celebration of a milestone in a jazz festival’s history can overshadow the music being presented that year. But Fano Jazz By The Sea, a low-key event that has been taking place at a laid-back Italian seaside resort since 1993, let the artists appearing at its 10th anniversary edition July 4-7 make the waves. An approaching line of thunderstorms that threatened to cause the first rainout in the decade Fano Jazz By The Sea has been bringing mainstream, fusion and world music artists to the Adriatic Riviera caused a bit of anxiety over the weekend as concerts are traditionally held outdoors in the courtyard of the town’s medieval Malatestiana Palace. However the weather held and audiences were treated to a four-day series of concerts by an eclectic line-up of artists that together represented a broad spectrum of the diverse styles currently being heard on the current international improvised music circuit.

The festival opened on Thursday, July 4 with the double-bill of PAF and Oregon. The former group—a trio that gets its name from the first letters of the first names of its members, trumpeter-flugelhornist Paolo Fresu, pianist-accordionist Antonellos Salis and bassist Furio di Castri – draws upon jazz, traditional music from the island of Sardinia from which Salis and Fresu hail, and rock influences to create a highly entertaining and original sound. Oregon is, of course, a pioneer of the World Music genre and over the course of some three decades has refined its sound to the point where it effortlessly blends classical, Third World and urban melodies and rhythms into a flavorful music potpourri that is one of the most distinctive sounds on the contemporary music scene.

Two Latin bands making their only Italian appearances of the 2002 summer festival season – a quintet led by the talented Cuban trumpeter-flugelhornist Il Indio and a sextet led by the Spanish pianist Chano Dominquez—were presented in a free concert held at the beach in Fano’s Rastatt Amphitheatre on Friday, July 5. Il Indio’s set was a loving tribute to hard bop spiced up with the sensual and fiery rhythms of his Caribbean island homeland, sort of what Bobby Watson’s band Horizon might have sounded like had it been formed in Havana. Dominquez, a native of Cadiz whose promotional material describes him as the “…Paco de Lucia of the piano” certainly lived up to this billing. His band – a traditional jazz trio augmented by a Latin percussionist, a Flamenco singer and a Flamenco dancer – played music as intriguing as its instrumentation was eclectic and had one foot in Andalusia and the other in Birdland.

A thunderstorm at dusk forced a delay in the starting time of Saturday night’s concert back at the Malatestiana Palace courtyard but thankfully only a few drops left by clouds passing overhead detracted from the evening’s show featuring the duo of saxophonist-clarinetist John Surman and pianist John Taylor and the all-star Birds of a Feather quintet led by drummer Roy Haynes and featuring alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, pianist Dave Kikoski and bassist Christian McBride in an exclusive Italian engagement. Surman and Taylor provided a lovely program in which “each tune was written by a John” as the reed virtuoso joked at the beginning of their set. The duo’s highly impressionistic music, drawing primarily on European classical and American jazz influences took on an Asian feel during their performance of “Beijing,” a piece written in honor of a recent tour of China. Other highlights of the concert included “Tess Of The D’Urbervilles,” a musical portrait of the heroine of the classic Thomas Hardy novel, and “Line 1, Part,” one of the first compositions these two leading members of Britain’s creative music community, who have been collaborating together since the 1960s, recorded together. Haynes and Co. capped off the evening by delivering a hard-driving mainstream jazz set dedicated to Charlie P

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