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Live Review: 45th Umbria Jazz Festival

Stefano Battaglia, Vijay Iyer, Danilo Rea, and a new band called Lumina light up Perugia

Gregory Porter at the 45th Umbria Jazz Festival
Gregory Porter at the 45th Umbria Jazz Festival (photo: Tim Dickeson)

You could go to many European cities when a jazz festival was in town and never know it. Big cities like Belgrade, Serbia and even medium-sized towns like Bolzano, Italy absorb their festivals with barely a ripple on the surface of daily urban life. But you would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to go to Perugia, Italy in mid-July and not know the Umbria Jazz Festival was happening. At both ends of Corso Vannucci, the main drag of the centro storico, free music plays on outdoor stages all day and long into the night. There are big busy kiosks selling festival merchandise, street musicians wailing on every corner, and artists chalking jazz murals on the sidewalks. Funk Off, a manic marching band, parades riotously down Corso Vannucci twice a day. During the day the cobblestones teem with fans in jazz T-shirts, and at night hordes of young revelers, dancing to the free music with a birra in one or both hands, block your path. Even when the official music stops on the outdoor stages around 2 a.m., conga drums pound in Piazza IV Novembre and the party goes on.

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