I mentioned in an earlier post the origins of the Portico Quartet’s name, and really where else could they have been to acquire that moniker, for apart from the city’s architectural signature it has hosted an annual jazz festival since 1958, making it even older than me!
The city loves jazz. On the Sunday that I began exploring I found the central area closed to traffic, an opportunity that appeals to the Italian psyche; time for a market, or sports event, or in this case some jazz.
A small stage had been set up near to Piazza Maggiore and with consummately poor timing I arrived in between sets, but the mix of music that the sound engineer was playing to crowds of pre-Christmas shoppers was superb.
Jazz clubs like Cantina Bentivoglio host bands most nights of the year
and there are other signs too. When Bologna born actor and musician Lucio Dalla died in 2012 it is estimated that 50,000 people attended his funeral here. He is commemorated in a subtle piece of art that adorns a wall at the junction of Via d’Azeglio and Piazza dei Celestini where his shadow plays on.
In a Hollywood style tribute to those who have played here, since 2011 marble stars are are placed in the pavement of the “Strada del Jazz” (Via Rizzoli). Dalla has a star here of course, but others who have already been honoured include Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker and of course Miles Davis.
On the day I visited a group of young musicians were taking selfies with a double bass around Miles’ star (perhaps a hint to the people of Bologna to include Charles Mingus next year?) but most of the passers-by were focused elsewhere, because however you want to celebrate jazz there is one way that beats the others hands down.