Ascona, Lake Maggiore, Switzerland - Once again this summer - from June 26 to July 6, 2008 - the wonderful Ascona lakefront will be transformed into a European New Orleans with the 24th edition of JazzAscona New Orleans & Classics. Ten days of great jazz, with sprinkles of blues, R&B, soul, Latin rhythms e funk; with over 200 concerts, more than 400 hours of live music, played by 40 bands of 250 musicians from all over the world and especially from New Orleans, city with whom Ascona has a strong, solid, indissoluble bond. Tribute to vibraphonist Lionel Hampton
The very rich 2008 program proposed by artistic director Nicolas Gilliet begins with a copious tribute to the great vibraphonist and entertainer Lionel Hampton, whose 100-year birth anniversary occurs this year. Hampton, the musician who introduced the vibraphone to jazz, exerted an enormous influence on generations of jazz players. The Ascona festival will pay him tribute with a series of concerts covering various aspects of his musical genius, and including internationally famous vibraphonists like Canadian Peter Appleyard; from France, Dany Doriz (whom Lionel Hampton considered his 'spiritual son'); and artists like Bob Wilber (clarinet) and Duffy Jackson, the extraordinary drummer who accompanied Hampton from a young age, putting his incomparable dynamism and rhythmic sense at the service of other jazz giants like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie.
The Best of Contemporary Jazz
Besides a rich group of European bands and soloists (of note, the welcome return of the German Barrelhouse Jazzband), the 2008 program foresees the presence of some of the best classic jazz players of the world, like California trombonist Dan Barrett, New York-based saxophonist Harry Allen, and the no-less copasetic trumpeter Warren Vach: all first-class stars of the U.S. swing and mainstream scenes. Joining these stars, already known to Ascona, will be Scott Hamilton, considered by the critics to be the best living mainstream saxophonist, -- at the festival for the first time!
From New Orleans, Entertainment Guaranteed
The musical menu will see interesting forays into other genres, like the blues-folk style offered by the band of guitarist Norbert Schneider, Ascona 2007's great discovery. Particularly variegated are the acts coming out of New Orleans, with the presence of great jazz performers like Herlin Riley (for many years drummer for Wynton Marsalis), and personages like Eddie Bo, popular pianist/singer who wrote the story of the music of New Orleans by inventing that explosive mixture of R&B-Funk-Soul which today dominates the sound of the Crescent City; a sound that has also become part of Jon Cleary, himself quite a singer and pianist who has played with figures such as Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Eric Clapton. Also out of New Orleans, will be the killer act of the Pfister Sisters, three fine and eccentric singers making their first appearance at Ascona, recapturing the atmosphere of the '20s and '30s as they present the repertoire of the mythic Boswell Sisters.
Gospel Masses and Mardi Gras Indians
Among the special events stand out two gospel masses, celebrated by the charismatic Father Jerme LeDoux in the splendid Church of the Collegio Papio. Another key event will be the bestowing of an Ascona Jazz Award to New Orleans saxophonist /singer /composer Donald Harrison, one of the most influential jazz musicians of the last few years, whom the Ascona public will be able to see in his very colorful costume as Big Chief" of the Mardi Gras Indians, a spectacular carnival tradition of New Orleans, whose roots date back to the time when African slaves gathered in Congo Square (to which an exhibit will be dedicated in the festival).