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Texas Jazz in Europe 6: Drawing a Crowd in Italy

by Jerome Weeks 21 Jul 2008 8:08 AM

Late-night Perugian Jazz fans come to hear the One O’Clock The One O’Clock Lab Band  has reached Rome and then headed for Perugia, the capital of Umbria, the central Italian region and home of the Umbria Jazz Festival. The Art&Seek Blog has been following the University of North Texas jazz group on its European invasion, […]


Late-night Perugian Jazz fans come to hear the One O’Clock

The One O’Clock Lab Band  has reached Rome and then headed for Perugia, the capital of Umbria, the central Italian region and home of the Umbria Jazz Festival. The Art&Seek Blog has been following the University of North Texas jazz group on its European invasion, via freelance photographer and UNT student Michael Climents’ photo postings on Flickr and some of the blog posts from band member/trombonist Sara Jacovino.

Check out the posts on the jump.


Posted by Sara Jacovino

We arrived at the Plaza Hotel early in the early afternoon. Our tour guide, Bobby, briefed the band on how to walk up the hill and reach the festival. The city of Perugia is built on and around a big hill — there is an elaborate network of escalators, of all things, to help you reach the top. I found his explanation very confusing — as did much of the band — and opted to stay in my room and get some work done.

This is the first time the entire trip that I sat down and wrote something (quite an aberration, considering I practically live in the computer lab at school). I chose to miss a great concert by Bill Frisell — like North Sea, we have artist passes that allow us free access to all of the shows in the Umbria Jazz Festival. I chose wisely: When he tried to make his way back down the hill, one band member got very, very lost in the city for a good 2 hours (and missed the bus to the gig). Luckily, he righted himself, and ran into us at the Gary Burton show.

Around 9, we were able to take in a bit of a concert of Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Antonio Sanchez, and Steve Swallow. I recognized the stage: This was the exact place that Keith Jarrett made so famous a few years ago! I wish I could have seen the entire set — the programming was a little strange — the first two tunes were both in A minor and both had the same feel. This being said, they are great musicians and I am grateful that I was able to attend the show.

Now for our concert: I think I played for more people than I ever have in my entire life. We played the 11:30 PM slot (last act) on a stage in an outdoor square. There are several streets that converge at this location: The street and square were packed. If we had to escape quickly, we might as well go down with the ship. I’m not certain what 10,000 people packed into a space looks like, so I can’t give an exact number — maybe over 7,000?

What energy! The One O’Clock displayed the musicianship it has become famous for. Highlights included a great rendition of Neil Slater’s composition “That” (the most difficult chart in the book). Neil was so pleased that he even told the band that they sounded pretty great (which if you know Neil is quite an accomplishment, much preferable to hearing “You are starting to believe your own liner notes”). As the bells rang ONE (in the morning), we concluded our set with blazing versions of “Do you have an incendiary device (Got a Match?)” and “Machito.” The crowd applauded vigorously (and was almost all under 30 years old!).

In Italy people stay up very late. The scene was prepped for a huge all-night extravaganza; the square was mobbed with people. The band had its own celebration to undertake: The 17th is Isaac Lamar’s birthday, and the 18th is Ryan Hagler’s birthday. They received rousing renditions of “Happy Birthday” on the way back to the hotel. The band made certain that they partook in an authentically Italian celebration.

Ryan Hagler on bass at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia


Posted by Sara Jacovino

It has come to my attention that I forgot to talk about the heat in Rome and in Italy in general. Now that we’re in southern Europe, it’s very hot. The hotel rooms, although they are very nice, have very questionable air conditioning systems. In other words, there are thermostats that have buttons we can press and knobs we can turn, but they might be more of a placebo than anything. It is very sunny and very hot — my room thermostat says 30 C, which I believe is about 86 F. I now resemble the fine form I had when I returned from my sunblockless trip to South Padre a year ago. It was put best by my favorite trumpeter in the band: “Can I call you ‘rock lobster’?”

Several people have asked whether or not I have tried gelato. Of course I have. I’ve had it twice (a couple small scoops each time) and enjoyed it immensely. My two favorite flavors are coffee and lemon. I love the texture of the coffee (it contains whole coffee beans), and the flavor of the lemon is great (plus, it is great for cutting the feeling of heat exhaustion).

Back to the present:

Tim Goynes, guitar, and the rest of the One O’Clock

Early in the afternoon, we arrived in the small Tuscan city of Arezzo. The name was oddly familiar — then Justin Stanton (4th trumpet) pointed out the obvious. Guido de Arezzo was from — tad-ah: Arezzo. Over half the band remembered who Guido de Arezzo was (thus exposing our true social dysfunctionality and music-nerdiness). The other half remembered when they were reminded he is responsible for the Guidonian hand, an early tool that was used to explain music theory. Dr. Nordstrom would be proud. Apparently, the residents of Arezzo are also aware that Guido is from here: There is a large statue and square bearing his name (Piazza Guido Monaco). I found the monument slightly anticlimactic — in the words of Jason Hausbak (4th trombone), “Maybe I was just expecting a giant hand.”

In the early evening, we drove to a different city to play our evening concert. The venue is a stage in a square just off of a larger square in the center of the city. The area is what I picture when I think “Italian city”: cobblestone streets, blocks of solid buildings made of brightly colored stucco (so it appeared), children running through the street playing soccer, and people who resemble my grandfather riding bikes throughout the square (my grandfather was Italian). This city is completely different from Rome; the people you see in the streets are not tourists, they actually reside here. Many do not speak English, and they stop to see what is distracting them from completing their daily tasks.

We soundchecked in the early evening and then sat down to a traditional 3-course Italian meal with wine. In Italy, it is customary to eat around 8:30 in the evening. We were ready to eat when the food came. The meal was excellent (and on the house) — and not without its excitement (a woman at a table next to us had a seizure– luckily she was ok). Around 9:30, we played to a full square of eager listeners. The band played an atypical set: It swung really hard. We decided that it would be in our best interest to play a lot of the music of Thad Jones and other people along that vein. It went over very well and the band was well received! Many people were interested in our recordings and were asking when we would be returning — maybe Weist should plan a trip for next year?!