Jazz Passione Takes Over Perugia

July 5, 2013 / Events
Perugia, Umbria
IMG_5191As he hobbled across the stage, head of fluffy white hair bobbing, clutching his sax, he brought the delirious crowds to their feet, the chanting rolling over the outdoor arena in peaking waves: “Sony, Sony, Sony, SONY!” (the Italian fans’ pronunciation of “Sonny”) – and then Sonny Rollins gave his all – and more. 

Declared honorary citizen of Perugia the day before his concert, 83-year old jazz “sax colossus” closed the 2012 edition of Umbria Jazz in glory. And he was the first artist to confirm his appearance at this year’s fortieth anniversary edition of Umbria Jazz, July 5th – 14th); regrettably, he’s had to cancel due to a respiratory infection.

Superb Norwegian sax player Jan Garbarek will fill in, rounding out this year’s rich program: Diana Krall opens on the main stage and a couple nights later, Keith Jarrett will wow the crowds. Nearly sold out is the Chick Corea-Herbie Hancock duo night. The curtain will close on 2013 Umbria Jazz festival with brilliant jazz pianist Stefano Bollani joining one of Italy’s greatest choirs, the Accademia di Santa Cecilia.

funk-off-rocks-through-the-streets-of-perugiaAnd as always, free music all day long wraps around the 13th century fountain, 14th century cathedral, and frescoed Renaissance guildhalls of medieval Perugia. To find a quiet spot, you’ll have to head into the 16th century Papal fortress.

But why not join the Italians following the entertaining Florentine brass band Funk-Off down the main street? Or rock out with them to the zydeco music of Rockin’ Doopsie in the Carducci gardens, go wild with them over the Gospel of the Bobby Jones Super choir from Nashville taking stage in the main square near the majestic 13th century palazzo civico? Share in their passione.

As Sammy Figueroa, one of Rollins’ percussionists responded last year when I asked him what it was like to play at Umbria Jazz, “This is Italy, land of great food, great attitude, and our music is their passion. There is nothing close to this for a musician. This is a universe.” Sonny won’t be here to move the crowds with “Don’t Stop the Carnival” – but this extraordinary ten-day “carnival” of world-class jazz passione will go on.



Perugia civic palace and 13th-c. fountain

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

21 Responses to “Jazz Passione Takes Over Perugia”

  1. Rosemary

    I love the Umbria Jazz Festival…and Perugia!! Living there was one of the highlights of our lives. And living there during the Jazz Festival was the BEST! Wandering all over town enjoying music playing everywhere – simply magical!

  2. Angela Melczer

    ….and what a wonderful universe it is! I hope Sonny recuperates quickly and that the festival is another huge success…enjoy!

  3. How timely! My daughter will be in Assisi during this Jazz festival and I think she will be attending. I’m glad you posted this as I now can get an idea of what she will see. Thank you dear Anne.

  4. Nancy Mazza

    What a wonderful event!!! I hope someday to see it. I loved your article and the photos. It makes it feel so alive. Grazie, Annie. Enjoy.

  5. suzanne and jack

    wow. what a fabulous experience to be in Perugia for the jazz festival. Dear Anne, you have shown us the wonders of Perugia on past visits. I would love to see the festival wih you too. Next trip.
    Thank you for a great article.

  6. Stephanie

    Oh, what a way to experience Perugia! I wish I could be there right now! Thanks, Anne, for sharing another great slice of Umbrian life with us Italiophiles. I love jazz and would love to hear those artists with their passion for music playing in the land of all things passionate! Enjoy some music for me.

  7. Judy Pusateri

    Too bad we will just miss this wonderful event. Sounds like a fantastic time!

  8. Anne Ladky

    Great description of what is clearly a fantastic festival. Bet you are over there enjoying it right now! All best to you and the family….

  9. Joan Halperin

    Umbria Jazz keeps getting better. Thanks so much for keeping us up to date.

  10. Bill & Linda

    Scoobie-doobie-doo-wow-wow … crazy good jazz for all you cooooool catsssss out there! In all seriousness, I’m thinking: What better place to take in some cool jazz than with an Umbrian backdrop? The sights, the smells, the sounds … for sure a unique experience. Sold. We’ll take one this summer (and maybe next summer too??). Thanks Anne. See you soon. Ciao … ;)

  11. Mary Cappiello


    What a privilege it would be to partake in this wonderful event in Perugia!! Maybe next year! Love your pictures, too!

  12. Gull-britt Lundstrom

    Nice pictures Anne! As always you make everything so vivid.

  13. ValerieRaccuglia

    Anne, words cannot express how grateful I am that you suggested we go to Umbria Jazz last night. I’ve been in Assisi for five days and FINALLY got to go. What an AMAZING experience!!! And to be able to go their with you was THE BEST! I never liked Jazz music but you don’t have to be a Jazz lover to enjoy this festival. From the wild time watching Funk Off to meeting Bobby Jones and his choir to watching them from the very front “row” at the center stage. I never would have had this type of experience going on my own. But if a person cannot enjoy the festival with you, they would still have a wonderful time there on their own. As you said,watching and experiencing the Italian passione is something you must witness for yourself and something I will never forget and most definitely will experience again. Grazie Anna!!

  14. Annie—

    What a great article! Wish I could have been there. Makes me even more excited about our Christmas trip to Assisi.

  15. Betty Chipman, OFS

    Hi Anne:

    Your article brought back memories of a time I was in Orviato with you on one of your tours.
    There was a jazz band from New Orleans marching,dancing and playing great jazz, in the streets. You got right in the group, walking (or dancing) along with them. I took a pictuire of you in the group…think I even sent you the copy. It was a fun day, as they all are on your tours.
    Pace, blessings, love,

  16. Carol Lawlor

    Great jazz in a beautiful Umbrian town! Thanks, Anne, for this fabulous article and the great pictures. This is definitely on my to-do list! Ciao!

  17. david fleming

    World class festival in a magnificent and unique setting.
    Yet another reason to visit Anne and sample the joys of Umbria.

  18. Karen Kotoske

    Just told a friend about your fabulous ‘nest’ apartment in Assisi, a great travel tip for a single or couple who want to ‘nestle in’ and not have to think about driving every day because they’ll already ‘be there.’ Oh to be sipping a compare in the plaza in front of “Minerva’s temple’ right now……..

  19. Sandra Spector

    As usual, another great article by annie. I’d love to go to the jazz Festival, but I would first get to the Chocolate Festival. Annie – Promise you’ll attend that & write about it for all of us. BACI – Yum!


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