Stars of Jazz: New Orleans Experience, in Ascona, again!
Let us share some reminiscences of JazzAscona 2016 with you, our dear readers!
Cyprus Observer has been the only press representative from the island on this event during several years – and we very much hope that something similar to this festival will be soon organized in North Cyprus, too.
Let us forward here special thanks to organizers of this event : Guido Casparis (the president of Ascona Jazz), Nicolas Gilliet (artistic director), Luca Martinelli (press office director), and many others whose work enabled this great event to happen in the life of marvelous Ascona! Fortunately, it has also been covered by Cyprus Observer press reporters so that we may now enjoy the festival overview.
…One, Two – One, Two, Three, Four…. –
…Sipping café d’orzo on the ship going from Bavene and Cannobio to Ascona, I was recalling 2012 Ascona Jazz Festival edition, entitled “sophisticated ladies”. It was marked with magnificent Niki Harris performance when this beautiful woman with charming voice said as a preamble to Frank Sintara`s song “Cheek to Cheek”: being in Ascona is like “being in heaven”. Well, enjoying the first jazzy evening on the lago Maggiore coastline, adorned with streetlights, festoons, with its cozy terraces of the restaurants that shed unique energy of Ascona, I was thinking in the same way: it felt like being in heaven.
New Orleans experience has started with SwingRocket jazz band from Australia, which performed on the newly opened stage Papa Joe`s. Restaurant with the same name is situated just nearby and has become the place of night “jam sessions” when musicians gather together to have some fun after the day full of gigs. (See authentic Papa Joe’s decor on the photo below)
Dan Barnett, trombonist and singer, was leading the band of other amazing musicians such as Anthony Howe, drummer and vocalist, Bradford Child (reeds), Mark Elton (bass), and Steven Grant, who impressed me with piano improvisations. Their concert on the 26th of June was entitled as “Trombones Night” and featured special guests: James Greening, Australian trombone player, and Craig Klein, who was named as New Orleans’ hottest funk and jazz trombone. All the artists were charging the audience with positive vibes, made people swinging and thus received a warm welcome from listeners!
My next discovery occurred just afterwards – I heard Glen David Andrews with 2Twogether for the first time in my life… And I was deeply impressed. Rarely can you hear the artists with such a charisma: Glen David is endowed with unique range of voice and conveys the traditions of New Orleans jazz, while 2Twogether is a fancy name for the duet of two young prodigies who come to Ascona from the European soul scene.
I liked the gospel style of Glen David Andrews’ singing, among many other artistic ways of performance – all of which were great. The specialty of his style, as it seemed to me, or, say, the manner, was to start slowly and quietly, exposing the emotion of the song afterwards: as if you embark on a journey, steadily quit the coast and then go full steam ahead – accelerating in speed, volume, and revealing new horizons! Artistry of this great musician made everyone sing and dance, laugh and smile, enjoying Ascona Jazz Festival.
Having heard some music, I have decided to taste New Orleans cuisine and got Jambalaya Rice with pepper and chicken – it was awesome and had the taste I would never forget. I would compare it with “pilau” or “pilaf” cooked in some Eastern countries with meat and spices but that wouldn`t be enough to transfer the unique taste of Jambalaya! Being in Ascona, don`t miss the chance to try some Minestrone, too – it is not only what your soul needs, but your body, as well! Carcani restaurant would be a nice place to try some local dishes.
Late in the evening we listened to the SMUM Big Band with special guest John Michael Bradford. Young but extremely talented trumpet player, John Michael, is for the second time in Ascona: this year as in previous one he performs with energy, charisma, and thoughtful improvisations. To my mind, he added to the orchestra of venerable SMUM Big Band musicians a spirit of novelty, youth and special creativity. Improvisation parts enabled to enjoy the mastership of every musician in the Band.
Strolling in the narrow street of antic Ascona center, we decided to drop in Al Torcio Bar, where Agostina and Sergio welcome Ascona`s locals with refreshing cocktails and hearty music. This year impressive pianist and singer, composer and music teacher, Davi Antonio, blazed people up. Although he wasn`t mentioned in official Ascona Jazz Festival program and his repertoire was not linked with New Orleans Jazz, Antonio`s music was a kind of enrichment to the festival`s program with some popular songs.
Thank you, beautiful Ascona, for these marvelous discoveries – we are looking forward to recording more jazzy moments in future (also read more about JazzAscona Stars here).
Although being now on Cyprus, we still carry JazzAscona memories in our hearts & minds….
Text by Taliya Khafizou
Photos by Almira Khafizou