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Danilo Rea at Umbria Jazz 2014

“The melody is the king”

Doctor 3 at the Teatro Morlacchi during Umbria Jazz 2014; Danilo Rea, Enzo Pietropaoli and Fabrizio Sferra (from left)
Enzo Pietropaoli performs in Doctor 3 at the Teatro Morlacchi, Umbria Jazz 2014
Fabrizio Sferra performs in Doctor 3 at the Teatro Morlacchi, Umbria Jazz 2014
Doctor 3 at the Teatro Morlacchi during Umbria Jazz 2014; Danilo Rea, Enzo Pietropaoli and Fabrizio Sferra (from left)
Danilo Rea performs in Doctor 3 at the Teatro Morlacchi, Umbria Jazz 2014

The 2014 edition of the Umbria Jazz Festival was, as always, a wild extravagance of music and an endurance sport. Every day for 10 days it began at noon (with dignified recitals in palazzos and undignified street parades down Corso Vannucci) and ended around 2 a.m. (when the last encore was played in Teatro Morlacchi). In this onslaught of music, two standout concerts involved Danilo Rea. In the United States he is a less familiar name than Stefano Bollani or Enrico Pieranunzi, but he is their peer as a pianist and he is a star in Italy.

One of the most popular groups in the history of Italian jazz was Doctor 3. It was Rea, bassist Enzo Pietropaoli and drummer Fabrizio Sferra. They made eight albums between 1998 and 2007, won many Italian awards and polls, then all went on to other projects. (Sferra, for example, joined Enrico Rava’s quintet.) Doctor 3 was known for its bold incursions into pop/rock repertoire. They did it before the Bad Plus, and with a very different sensibility. Doctor 3 was the furthest thing from punk. Rea is a shameless romantic, albeit one with merciless ass-kicking chops.

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