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23. May. 2017

Spotlight on Italy

New this year, the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival turns its programming eye to Italy. We asked Giulio Recchioni, Cultural Director at Vancouver's Italian Cultural Centre, to share his thoughts about Italy's place in the jazz world, and why the time is now for Italian artists.

Jazz’s revolutionary and influential past has undoubtedly created a musical language of its own that is has shared with the world. Italy’s contribution to this exceptional genre and movement has taken flight and grown tremendously in the last twenty years.

The Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver celebrates and cherishes everything that is Italian, and jazz has, without a doubt, influenced Italian and Italian-American culture. 


Today Jazz festivals can be found all over Italy with the crown jewel being the annual Umbria Jazz Festival. Often frequented by legends such as Enrico Rava, Gianluca Petrella, and Fabrizio Sferra, Italy’s infatuation with Jazz also brought global superstars like Miles Davis, Gil Evans, and Ornette Coleman to perform and influence our cultural landscape even more.

In an attempt to bring this influence to Vancouver we have partnered with Coastal Jazz to spotlight Italy’s artistic and musical achievements at this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. We want to showcase that Jazz does not only exist in Italy, it thrives. It is a language that belongs to everyone and Italy has proven more than capable of understanding how to interpret it in order to create something that reflects our cultural impact and who we are as artists. 

Giulio Recchioni
Cultural Director

Featured Spotlight on Italy Concerts include:


Antonio Ciacca Quintet featuring Benny Benack III – Volare: The Italian American Songbook:

June 23 & 24, Frankie’s Jazz Club

He’s not a household name, but pianist Antonio Ciacca has a spectacularly impressive musical resume. Born in Germany in 1969, raised in Italy and educated in the United States, he began his career in jazz as a sideman for Art Farmer, James Moody, Lee Konitz, Jonny Griffin, Mark Murphy, Dave Liebman, and Steve Grossman. Steve Lacy invited Ciacca to join his quartet in 1997, and that same year, he met Wynton Marsalis. In 2007, he became Director of Programming at Jazz at Lincoln Center, working alongside Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis until 2011. In May 2016 the Orchestra Giovanile del Teatro Garibaldi in Lucera (Italy) premiered his symphony n. 1 in G minor, and he embarked on his first tour as conductor/composer and arranger with the Orchestra ICO Della Magna Grecia featuring Nate Brown and One Voice on a Christmas/Gospel tour in Italy.

Here’s a cool taste of their interpretation of Cheek to Cheek, from their project “Volare: The Italian American Songbook.” This video captures how swingin’ this band is. (Plus, helps to illustrate why Frankie’s Jazz Club has a noise policy. Jeepers, people, shut up!)

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see an infrequent visitor to Vancouver at the top of his game. 

Antonio Ciacca Quintet plays Frankie’s Jazz Club Friday, June 23 & Saturday June 24 at 8pm
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Hyper + Trio led by Nicola Fazzini

July 1, Performance Works

Hyper+ is the “music lab” of Nicola Fazzini (alto & soprano saxes, flute), Alessandro Fedrigo (electric & acoustic basses, effects) and Luca Colussi (drums) formed to research timbres and sound, new techniques of improvisation, and new rhythmic and melodic elements Playing both acoustic and electric instruments with effects and much more, the trio has developed a creative vocabulary that they apply to both original pieces and standards.

“Futurimi”, the tune caught here at Spazio Aereo, was written by bassist Fedrigo and captures their interplay.

They’ll be joined by legendary Vancouver clarinettist and improviser Francois Houle for this free concert.

Hyper + Trio feat. Francois Houle plays July 1 at Performance Works at 3:45pm.





Tony Foster Trio with guest Pasquale Grasso

June 30 & July 1, Frankie’s Jazz Club

Vancouver pianist Tony Foster is one of the unsung heroes of the city’s jazz scene. You may have seen him last year with the Dan Brubeck Quartet at performance works, or heard him on CBC’s Hot Air with Margaret Gallagher discussing his latest CD, 2016’s Project Paradiso, featuring the music of Italian composer Ennio Morricone and Italian-Amerian composer Henry Mancini.

This year, he’s joined by Italian guitarist Pasquale Grasso. A native of Ariano Irpino, Grasso studied at the Bologna Conservatory and moved to New York in 2012. In 2015, he won the Wes Montgomery competition. In Vintage Guitar magazine, Pat Metheny said: "The best guitar player I’ve heard in maybe my entire life is floating around now, Pasquale Grasso. This guy is doing something so amazingly musical and so difficult. Mostly what I hear now are guitar players who sound a little bit like me mixed with a little bit of Sco and a little bit of Frisell, using a couple of amps onstage with a little bit of delay. Then they say they don’t listen to me or Sco or Frisell; all they listen to is Grant Green. I kind of go, “Really?” (laughs) What’s interesting about Pasquale is that he doesn’t sound anything like that at all. In a way, it is a little bit of a throwback, because his model – which is an incredible model to have – is Bud Powell. He has somehow captured the essence of that language from piano onto guitar in a way that almost nobody has ever addressed. He’s the most significant new guy I’ve heard in many, many years. That’s exciting for me."

Check him out here: 

Tony Foster Trio feat. Pasquale Grasso plays Frankie’s Jazz Club Friday June 30 and Saturday July 1 at 8pm.
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Scott Hamilton Trio featuring Rossano Sportiello

July 2, Pyatt Hall 

Scott Hamilton is one of the premier 'mainstream' saxophonists working today. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1954, he came along at the time when the kind of jazz he loved—he small-group swing of such great stylists as Illinois Jacquet and Eddie Lockjaw Davis—was out of fashion, and largely out of the public ear. A consummate interpreter of standards, Hamilton’s big, warm tenor saxophone tone and unerring sense of swing have a way of making every tune he plays uniquely his own. 

For these special concerts at Pyatt Hall, pianist Rossano Sportiello, a native of Vigvano, Italy, joins Hamilton. Called “the best stride piano player I have ever heard,” by no less than Barry Harris, Sportiello’s former teacher, Sportiello’s playing emphasises refinement, technique, and restraint. 

Here’s a lovely medley that cleverly blends standards The Very Thought of You & Cherokee.

Scott Hamilton Trio feat. Rossano Sportiello plays Sunday, July 2 at Pyatt Hall, 7:30pm and 9:30pm.
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The Spotlight on Italy highlights the diversity, quality and beauty of today’s Italian musicians.  Special thanks to Italian Cultural Centre, Vancouver, Novara Festival (Italy), Italian Cultural Institute (Toronto), Consulate General of Italy (Vancouver) for making this series possible.

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