Firenze Jazz Festival 2023: the highlights

Firenze Jazz Festival 2023: the highlights

Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen, American drummer Jeff Ballard and more.

Fri 28 Jul 2023 3:43 PM

Returning this September, Firenze Jazz Festival brings Italian and international jazz stars to Florence’s most dazzling locations in 30-plus concerts.

FJF 2019. A concert on the Arno

Lasting for two weeks across two intervals, Florence’s hills will come alive to the sound of jazz from September 5 to 10, while the River Arno will take centre stage from September 12 to 17. Initially born as a fringe festival in 2017 and 2018, Firenze Jazz Festival is now widely regarded as one of most highly acclaimed music festivals in Italy. The main stage will continue to be in piazza del Carmine, while the brilliant floating stage on the river will return by popular demand with its innovative amp and radio systems. The full programme will be published shortly at

The best of Italian jazz

Dario Cecchini
Enrico Rava

The festival begins on September 5 with a concert organized by Empoli Jazz at Forte Belvedere, starring Italian superstar accordion players Gianni Coscia (who’s 92!) and Alessandro D’Alessandro.

Internationally renowned Italian jazz artist Enrico Rava returns with his most recent project, Fearless Five, on September 6 atLimonaia di Villa Strozzi. The band features talented young musicians Matteo Paggi (trombone), Francesco Diodati (guitar), Francesco Ponticelli (double bass) and Evita Polidoro (drums).

Ticket presales are already available for Nico Gori’s Young Lions concert on September 13 at Limonaia di Villa Strozzi,with special guest trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso. Accompanied by Sergio Aloisio Rizzo on the guitar, Francesco Tino on bass and Simone Brilli on drums, two of Italy’s most respected soloists will play side by side in a thrilling ensemble of American jazz and original compositions by Nico Gori, in addition to Brazilian forays, from choro to bossa nova.

Following the runaway discographic success of Two for Duke and Two for Stevie, Dado Moroni and Max Ionata will perform on September 8 at Villa Bardini. The two friends share the energy of the stage in Two for You, a sort of “best of” the two projects to discover the musical worlds of Duke Ellington and Stevie Wonder. Also on September 8 at Villa Bardini, experimental jazz takes shape through Francesco Bearzatti, Mattia Barbieri and Stefano Risso’s reformulation of Duke Ellington’s dazzling soundtrack to Anatomy of a Murder (directed by Otto Preminger in 1959).

Don’t miss another stellar pairing on September 9 at Villa Bardini as duo Dario Cecchini and Francesco Zampini play a brand-new repertoire together based on their acclaim as individual artists.

International jazz artists

Hedvig Mollestad. Ph. Julia Naglestad

What makes Firenze Jazz Festival so enticing on the global jazz scene is the number of international stars who enjoy performing every summer in Florence.

Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen performs her new project, Weejuns, for the first time in Italy on September 7 at Limonaia di Villa Strozzi. Regarded as one of the most brilliant European guitarists in recent years, Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen has honed her reputation from one project to the next, showing her band leader and composer abilities. American music magazine DownBeat included her in their “25 for the Future list and British jazz magazine Jazzwise featured her on the cover as “Nordic Guitar Goddess”. Ståle Storløkken (keyboard) and Ole Mofjell (drums) make up Weejuns.

Jeff Ballard at bluenote. Ph. Roberto Cifarelli

From the US, renowned drummer Jeff Ballard will play at Villa Bardini on September 9 as part of a newly formed band, including a quartet of Tuscan musicians: Alessandro Lanzoni, Francesco Zampini and Michelangelo Scandroglio. Over the course of his career, Ballard has played and recorded with some of the biggest names in jazz, such as Ray Charles, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner and Avishai Cohen.

Danilo Rea + Michel Godard

Danilo Rea and Michel Godard bring the festival to a close on September 17 at Villa Strozzi in a tribute to Giacomo Puccini. Organized by Toscana Produzione Musica, “La finestra di Puccini” shines a light on Italian pianist virtuoso Danilo Rea and exceptional tuba and serpentone musician Michel Godard as they share their love for the Lucca-born classical composer.

Firenze Jazz Festival in Tuscany

Ruffino’s Poggio Casciano garden area

On September 10,the Firenze Jazz Festival moves to Empoli for the Sismatik concert in the Chiostro della Collegiata di S. Andrea. Roberto Magnani’s acting is blended with the ensemble helmed by the queen of contemporary Italian jazz Silvia Bolognesi, with Giuseppe Sardina on drums and Tobia Bondesan on the saxophone.

On September 17, head for the Jazz Brunch at Ruffino’s Poggio Casciano wine estate, just 30 minutes from Florence in the Chianti hills as pianist Matteo Castellan performs with Luigi “Giotto” Napolitano (trumpet) and Veronica Perego (double bass). Book your spot:

FJF 2023. Design by Simona Cavatoni

The concerts are free and rely on a wide network of partners and sponsors: the Italian Ministry of Culture, Comune di Firenze + Estate Fiorentina, Città Metropolitana Firenze, Fondazione CR Firenze, Ruffino, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Prinz srl, Circolo Renaioli Firenze and Velmotor. The festival is organized by Centro Spettacolo Network Soc. Coop. with the artistic direction of Francesco Astore, coordinated by Enrico Romero, in partnership with Music Pool, Musicus Concentus and in collaboration with Empoli Jazz and Toscana Produzione Musica. The Florentine has been a proud media partner since the first edition.

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