Back to school, “reality,” il rientro: however you frame the annual fresh start that takes place in September, it generally means a return to routine. If you’re not quite ready to part with the spontaneity of summer, one event in particular will cling tightly to the season’s spirit: the second edition of Firenze Jazz Fringe Festival is a five-day marathon of improvisation, relaxation and life along the river. Hangers-on, rejoice!
A peak event on the Estate Fiorentina program, FJFF will feature 70 hours of music performed by 150 artists in more than 50 shows scattered throughout the Oltrarno in a dozen different indoor and outdoor venues. Much of the activity will be concentrated around or on the Arno, particularly at the beloved “beach” below piazza Poggi and on rafts around the Ponte Vecchio.
Fasten your seatbelts for the headline event on September 5 as one of the most important jazz musicians on the international stage, Enrico Rava and his trumpet, with Bruno Ruder on the piano, take centre stage up at San Miniato al Monte, part of the basilica’s millennium celebrations. Marching bands (Girlesque, Capoeira Axè/Mestre Boca Nua, Zastava Orkestar) will move through piazza Santo Spirito in a series of traveling shows (September 6-8). Nearby Piazza del Carmine’s longtime music hub Sala Vanni will also host a series of concerts, kicking off at 9pm each night during the festival. Early in the lineup is a refined Italian power duo, John De Leo, singer and composer, and Rita Marcotulli, jazz pianist and the first female winner of the David del Donatello for Best Musician (September 6). Improvisation wizardry is what to expect a few days later when kindred spirits Mirco Mariottini and Stefano Battaglia, known for their seemingly effortless symbiosis, take the stage (September 8).
In addition to the shuttered shows of Sala Vanni, piazza del Carmine will host a smattering of outdoor swing dance sessions with local Lindy Hoppers (September 6) and a performance from the ultimate pros, Nico Gori and his Swingtet, known for their big-band vibe and ‘30s and ‘40s rhythms (September 9). Also running in the newly revamped square: special jazz- and art-themed editions of “The Wine Talks,” an ongoing series of wine culture chats and tastings, sponsored by Ruffino and held in collaboration with The Florentine and the City of Florence.
Tuscan wine gets traded in for tequila on September 8 when sponsors Jose Cuervo put on a must-see show on the sandy end of piazza Poggi. Vertical Stage Session 2.0 is a tribute to Mexico combining social commentary, art and urban requalification, performed from a trio of tall stages, the “Night Towers,” each reaching eight meters high.
See the full program on www.fjff.it, or skip the scheduling altogether: plant yourself in an Oltrarno square during the festival days and you’ll certainly catch some of the action. In jazz, spontaneity is the name of the game, after all!