Mammut Jazz Festival – 5th July – 2nd September 2022: From 5th-8th July, Cortona sets the scene debuting the third edition of Mammut Jazz Festival, 2 months of events, concerts and workshops of unadulterated, improvised, jazz-based cultural immersion to be enjoyed throughout the Val di Chiana.
Originating in April 2017 with the Notte Bianca – a recent Italian tradition where town centres stay open all night – Cortona Jazz was immediately so popular, that it was replicated at the end of the summer with performances by Glenn Ferris’ Italian Jazz Quintet. During the long winter months, it organically evolved into the Cortona Jazz Club, with improvised sessions – much to the delight of all Jazz lovers - held in bars and restaurants throughout town.
In 2018, the initiative was further developed by the Mammut Cultural Association and culminated in the first Mammut Jazz Festival that same year. This had an impressive agenda of workshops and concerts, attracting renowned musicians from all over the world and an ever-growing following of enthusiasts and students of jazz.
Mammut Jazz Festival is about never being mainstream, neither in its locations nor in its sounds. Performed in castelli, villas, streets, piazzas, ex-industrial warehouses, the surrounding hillsides and woods, MJF, under the guidance of its artistic director, Ohad Talmor,encourages improvisation, the pushing of musical boundaries, and the researching of electronic jazz. The aim is to unite Cortona’s growing tourism and bustling commercial life with its older, more intimate self: to invite one to slow down, reflect, meditate - above all to listen; and by so doing rediscover the town’s essence and historic values, rooted in art and culture. It does this by offering contemporary interdisciplinary languages and tailor-made projects such as photography, literature, dance, sculpture and digital graphics – all with the common thread of Jazz music.
Over the years, the festival has spread its wings with its itinerant performances held in the towns and hillsides of the Val di Chiana: Cortona, Civitella, Lucignano, Arezzo, Castiglion Fiorentino, Castiglion del Lago, and coming on board this year is Foiano della Chiana. In different formats and combinations the annual event includes live performances in a variety of locations, residential workshops - with students and teachers coming together to create new sounds – and jamming sessions where anyone is welcome to go and enjoy a beer or glass of wine, listening to off-the-cuff Jazz, until late into the night.
2022’s programme starts off in Cortona, with workshops running from 5th – 8th July. Twenty-two students (all under the age of 40) from international music schools will participate, under the didactic direction of Ohad Talmor (saxophone), Shane Endsley (trumpet), Jim Black (drums) and Or Bareket (double-bass). Following the day’s performances, jamming sessions will be held in the evenings at Off-Grid (Monte Ginezzo) – where everyone is welcome - to discover important musicians from overseas and a new start of European jazz.
On July 28th, the Ghost Horse sextet will perform at the Rocca di Civitella della Chiana, with Dan Kinzelman (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Filippo Vignato (trombone), Gabrio Baldacci (baritone guitar), Joe Rehmer (electric bass), Stefano Tamborrino (drums) and Glauco Benedetti (euphonium, tuba).
August 4th, in front of the churchyard of San Francesco in Lucignano, one can enjoy the Storytellers, a Roman sextet, composed of Simone Alessandrini (alto sax), Antonello Sorrentino (trumpet), Riccardo Gola (electric bass), Riccardo Gambatesa (drums), Federico Pascucci (tenor sax) and Giacomo Ancillotto (guitar).
Mop Mop, created by Andrea Benini will perform live in Piazza Fra' Benedetto in Foiano della Chiana on August 11th with a trio, consisting of drums/keyboards/vocals. The evening will be opened by the Francesco Giustini quartet with an unprecedented line-up. During the same evening, the latest book by writer Sara Lucaroni will also be presented.
Simone Graziano, a virtuoso Florentine pianist, will stage his latest work ‘Embracing the future’ in the cloister of the Convent of San Francesco in Castiglion Fiorentino on August 27th.
The trio Below FI will open the evening in Castiglione del Lago on September 2nd, in the magnificent setting of the Rocca del Leone, the evening will continue with LNDFK and will end with a special guest yet to be revealed.
Still more names will be disclosed in the coming weeks.
Antonio Massarutto, the original founder of Cortona Jazz and now executive director of the Mammut Cultural association, is also the creator of many of the association’s wonderful iconic mammoths. Although he doesn’t play an instrument himself, he is a huge fan of Jazz and tends to spend his time sculpting during the jamming sessions.
He explains that the association’s quirky choice of name emanates from the proud giants that once freely roamed the Val di Chiana in the quaternary period (circa 2.6 million years ago!). They marched in herds and because of their size, are presumed to have looked at the world from a privileged, elevated, more holistic viewpoint. They were chosen as a symbol for the festival, not because they are extinct but because they are a link to the past and by implication, also our present; if mammoths can (symbolically) return from the Ice Age, so too can Jazz return to Cortona and the Val di Chiana at large.