EJE European Jazz Expo – May 26-29 in Cagliari

I’m going to Cagliari at the end of the month. No,not Calgary as in Alberta or stampede, but Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia.

There’s been a jazz festival there for 30 years. “Jazz in Sardegna”, held in the summer, had its heyday in the eighties and early nineties. Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Gil Evans all played it. But by the early 2000’s the organizers felt they needed to attract a younger audience. The festival was re-born, and successfully achieved this transformation as “European Jazz Expo” from 2004 onwards.

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It was held at the city’s “Fiera” or trade fair centre slighly out of town. Held in November, it was regularly pulling in 20,000 people a year. Cagliari has a population of just 160,000 so it was significant.

It was London-based singer Filomena Campus – who is appearing at this year’s festival – who alerted me to the fact that they have changed the format this year, and will be holding the festival in a town park, following examples such as Amsterdam or Antwerp. I read the phrases “intensi profumi e colori della primavera,” and was hooked. And when I saw many of the main names of Italian jazz, and off I go.

Festival Director Michele Palmas, whom I spoketo today, is right in the middle of planning what is essentially a new venture. He tells me to look out for Sardinian singer Elena Ledda, performing with pianist Rita Marcotulli. They have jointly been awarded the Premio EJE, the festival’s main award, this year.

Haunting. One Sardinian name missing is that of Paolo Fresu, also on the video above. He was born in the North of the island in the province of Olbia, but studied in Cagliari. But other notable Italian names are out there in force: saxophhonist Stefano di Battista – from whom the festival has commissioned a new work , pianist Stefano Bollani.

There is a young artist showcase: I’ve been told to watch out for sixteen year old drummer Gianluca Pellerito and Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan.

Filomena Campus’ CD “Jester of Jazz” will be launched at the Pizza Express on May 23rd. Bookings Pizzaexpresslive.co.uk

Cagliari EJE European Jazz Expo website

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