|Subject: Jazz; I'm the guy|
Dear Anne, Sandy, and all those interested in Jazz,
Anne, I am the one who sent you the Jazz information last year, and you are right on the money with your guess of a Jazz trip this July. We are attending three or four nights of the Umbria Jazz festival, and in an earlier post I mentioned the two agritourismos where we are staying in different parts of Umbria, for six nights total. If anyone wants information on European Jazz festivals, I have many Web links for them, and would be happy to share them, plus my experiences. I have attended the Umbria festival (summer, not the winter) as well as the festivals in Juan les Pines and Cimiez in France, quite a few times. I'd love to attend the French festival in Vienne, the North Sea Festival, and the free Festival in Lugano, but the one in San Sebastion is probably next on my list. For some reason, I have no desire to attend the Montreaux festival, as it has become very pop-music oriented, and less appealing to a jazz purist.
This leads me to my next point. Leonardo said that European jazz is completely different than American one !!!!!!, and I agree with him wholeheartedly. Jazz musicians are treated differently in Europe and the festivals and concerts reflect this. There is a long history of expatriate American Jazz Musicians living and working in Europe for various reasons, the most frequently mentioned being the lack of work back home. During the 1950's, France and Scandanavia in particular were home to many American Jazz musicians, the great majority of which were African American, and felt far less racism and much greater appreciation of their art form in Europe, than back home. For some strange reason, Europeans have always appreciated Jazz as the wonderful creative art form that it is. Sadly, Musicians both black and white who had drug problems would lose their cabaret-card, which was equivalent to their license to perform in NY, and they would often go to Europe to play, and sometimes to avoid the law! If anyone is interested in this topic, a great movie that is out on video is called Round Midnite, (from the late eighties) and is loosely based on the lives of Bud Powell and Lester Young, two wonderful and amazingly influential musicians, and the inspiration that they gave to a young French artist who would go to hear them play in the Parisian clubs. The composite (fictional) character, is actually played by the late, great, Dexter Gordon, a contemporary of Powell and Young, who lived in Europe for years as an expatriate Jazz musician. The other characters are played by well known musicians such as Herbie Hancock and Billy Higgins. In my opinion, it is a very moving and special movie, and the music is outstanding. Dexter Gordon was nominated for an Academy Award for this film.
I live in Chicago, and I'm originally from New York, and I attend Jazz concerts and clubs in both cities on a regular basis, and often subscribe to a wonderful series up in Milwaukee, which 90 minutes away. I have been to New Orleans three times, and loved the musical scene there, but do not know it as well as the other cities that I mentioned. For the most part, there is an atmosphere of excitement, and an emotional reverence for the performers and the music that is different in Europe than it is here. I believe that the musicians feed off of this, and their performances can rise to incredible heights. Sometimes I have seen the same performers play early in the summer in Europe, and then early in the fall in Chicago, and there is a difference. I hope that this clarifies and adds to some of the earlier discussion, and I'm sorry to be so long-winded, but it is a serious passion.
Jonathan Chimene, Chicago
ps: The free Chicago Jazz festival looks to be very, very good this year.