An average of 20 concerts every day, 8 stages, 10 days of music, 300 musicians, a unique location – the breath-taking view on the Lago Maggiore – and lots of fun… this is JazzAscona, an international jazz festival that has taken place every summer, for the last 28 years, in the heart of Europe (in Ascona, in the region Ticino, in Southern Switzerland). Even though it is well-known across Europe as specialized in classic jazz and the music of New Orleans, JazzAscona has offered a variety of genres to its audience: from gospel to swing, from bebop to mainstream and, again, blues, soul and R&B.
The festival gathers fans and journalists from all over Europe and musicians from every corner of the world: from the States to Australia, from Italy to Sweden. There is an average of 20 daily concerts that start from 11 am until 2 am. Half of the concerts take place on 8 different stages in bars, restaurants and hotels (often outdoor terraces), while the other half taking place in the evenings at lakeside with an incredible landscape full of mountains, a lake and a bit of romance in the air.
Every edition has a different “motto” which the festival shapes itself around. JazzAscona 2012 theme was Sophisticated Lady (like the title of a famous Duke Ellington song) and many performers were women indeed: the Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas (who was awarded with the Ascona Jazz Award), the rising star New York’s pianist Champian Fulton, the “Barefoot Lady” Hammond organist Rhoda Scott, the legendary vocalist Germaine Bazzle, the “swing ladies” trumpet player Bria Skonberg and double bass player Nicki Parrott, charismatic singer Niki Haris, Swiss singer and winner of the 2012 Swiss Jazz Award (with pianist Dave Ruosch) Christina Jaccard and the 2009 International Songwriting Competition for Song’s finalist Davina Sowers with her band Davina and the Vagabonds. In addition to these names, there were American’s Got Talent finalist singer, entertainer and beatboxer Butterscotch and French bluesgirl Nina Attal, both young and very promising artists.
However, JazzAscona 2012’s cast included also several male music icons: the ace of trumpet Jon Faddis (who performed with the Stanford University Jazz Orchestra directed by Fred Berry), sensational funk and James Brown saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, Europe’s jazz star Till Brönner, gifted trumpeter and artist-gentleman incarnation Warren Vaché, New Orleans’ master drummer Herlin Riley, jazz scene’s veteran Mark Brooks and six-years-in-a-row Trombonist of the Year Wycliffe Gordon.
During the years several stars of the international music scene have performed in Ascona: Louis Nelson, Doc Cheatham, Sammy Price, Danny Barker, Marva Wright, Trombone Shorty, Irvin Mayfield, Scott Hamilton and Red Holloway are only a few names of the JazzAscona Hall of Fame.
This summer’s 28th edition was a real success, with over 60,000 fans partying during concerts (jazz, gospel, soul and funk), parades with marchin’ bands around the city, awards, exhibitions, moonlighting jam sessions and the thrilling Brass Band Battle between Re-Generation of New Orleans Brass Band and the French funky group Ceux Qui Marchent Debout.
The festival will be back for the 29th year next summer, for 10 days at the end of June. We’ll be attending the Jazz Ascona Festival with our full crew so see you there!