The 2017 Ravello Festival presents, for the first time, a separate jazz section. It is entirely in keeping with the spirit of this year’s festival: this year, Ravello sees a return to the origins of this City of Music, a place where the arts and original productions meet together.
So, one hundred years since the first recording of a piece of this kind of music on a shellac rpm record, today’s jazz music is more than ever before a model of multiculturalism, inclusiveness, and constant dialogue with other artistic and musical languages. Permeated with social and contemporary issues, jazz has been, over the past century as well as in the present century, a wonderful bridge between classical and non-classical music: «To me the word jazz means: “I dare you”». This is what jazz means to the great Wayne Shorter, who this year makes his return as a guest of the Ravello Festival with his quartet made up of Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade; a group which since 2000 has never ceased to amaze us with their “zero gravity”, a combination of meditation and dialogue, improvisation, risk-taking and lyricism.
The backbone of modern and contemporary jazz with his participation with the Jazz Messengers, groups with Miles Davis, and with Weather Report, Wayne Shorter is also a philosophical and spiritual point of reference for the Afro-American musical community. Recently, Shorter was the author, together with Herbie Hancock, of a remarkable letter to young musicians all over the world and this letter became viral on the social media, encouraging young musicians to show their resistance, their artistic courage, and to have respect for every voice. The words were Shorter’s: “All that exists is a product of someone’s imagination; treasure and nurture yours and you’ll always find yourself on the precipice of discovery.”
“Jazz, in its practice of dialoguing between equals, is ‘perfect democracy’”, maintains Enrico Rava, the great trumpet player who this year makes his return to Ravello together with another great father of European jazz, the Pole Thomasz Stanko, another fantastic trumpet player – both of them together to produce poetry, openness to what is new, welcoming space and silence and in incessant dialogue with musicians of the new generation.
Continuing the ideal of an approach begun at the 2016 Ravello Festival, whose driving force was Jazz Voices of Europe, on this year’s Ravello stage we shall have two great singers and musicians who represent Afro-American vocal jazz; the wonderful Dianne Reeves, winner of 5 Grammys, who will as always perform with expressive freshness songs from many difference sources, accompanied by her brilliant quarter made up of great soloists. Another great voice on the Ravello stage will be our very own Roberta Gambarini, whose brilliant career was built up in the United States with great masters of the calibre of James Moody, Dave Brubeck, and Hank Jones, thanks to her great mastery and flexibility of her singing. Roberta Gambarini will be the protagonist of a special Ravello Festival production in dialogue with the musical excellence of the Salerno Jazz Collective.
To wind up the Festival we have a concert which has been expressly prepared for Ravello, another excellent performer from the Campania Region: the Benevento-born Luca Aquino with his “Tra Petra e Al Amal” (From Petra to Al Amal), with the Jordanian National Orchestra’s Ensemble. This is a multi-ethnic and multilingual blend of two works whose inspiration Aquino took from Unesco’s #Unite4 Heritage, in defence of the world cultural heritage.
Maria Pia De Vito