Venezia Suona: Venice Plays (music…if you know where to look.)

If I could ever find good live jazz in Atlanta without having to by a ticket (and I did), it wasn’t always possible to actually hear it, in that it was rarely performed in a venue made for listening. If you ask me, Venezia is just such a venue, with its intimate ambience that amplifies and enhances acoustic sound naturally, as it reflects gently off water and stone, echoing an impromtu invitation to a passerby around a blind corner or over a bridge.

Venezia Suona takes place every summer, on a Sunday. Beginning in late afternoon and continuing throughout the evening. musical groups from gypsy jazz to classical to ethnic and beyond are peppered throughout the city in outdoor venues, playing for listeners as they meander through campi and along fondamente, sampling the variety of superb aural wares.

Once a year??? It should be every week, for crying out loud.

Living Venice, we suffer here from a bit of Vivaldi overdose (not to mention O Sole Mio, which is Napoletano for Pete’s sake). I mean, just how often can you hear the Four Seasons, even live, even by excellent musicians…at 35 euro a pop? (OK, it was quite moving at midnight, by candlelight, on the last night of Carnevale in Vivaldi’s Chiesa della Pietà. But let me just cherish the memory and we’ll leave it at that, OK?

I want jazz. Good jazz. Musica che riesce. Not the caberet of the Martini Bar — a place I’ve never mustered the courage to try — but cool jazz that’s swirls perfectly through a soft, humid serata Venessian. The calli are just crying out for it, along with more than a few of the inhabitants.

But you know what? It’s here. (Leave it to La Cantina, Shannon…)

The group is the that of Max Bustreo, the MiniMax Jazz Ensemble. Not yet 30 years old, Max is originally from Belluno and is classical trained. He discovered jazz listening to his Dad’s vinyl records, and taught himself in the beginning, but continued to study with a series of Italian jazz masters (Birro, D’Andrea, Battaglia), and moved to Venice where in 1996 he formed the Ensemble.

All I can tell you is, these guys COOK.

Max plays keyboards; Ralf Altrieth, the tenor and soprano sax player, is nothing short of a madman. The first night I heard them, Giovanni joined them on drums, and Marco, the guitarist, didn’t play that night, but does normally.

If it’s a nice night, and you’re not necessarily in the mood for Vivaldi or the guys in the Renaissance outfits, get your hotel to dot your map for Paradiso Perduto on Fondamenta Misercordia on Tuesday evenings, 8:30 – 11p, or al fresco at La Cantina on the Strada Nova on (some) Thursdays, same hours. Max and the guys also jam with other musicians at Torino@Notte in Campo San Luca (a younger, looser crowd) on Wednesday evenings, starting at happy hour. La Cantina will sell you Ralf’s CD. Ciò.

Some other musical favorites, resources, et al.:

Ermanno Signorelli Quartet

Francesca Hart – Max Mastella (in Italian)

Rosario Giuliani (Feel free to request him as an ITunes addition…)

Venice Jazz Project

Live Music in Venice (in Italian)

One thought on “Venezia Suona: Venice Plays (music…if you know where to look.)

  1. Shannon

    Jazz at La Cantina!!!! COOL.

    Once I saw a jazz band play in a boat outside Paradiso Perduto. The audience sat on the edge of the canal drinking wine. Then it started to rain. The band simply got out of the boat, went into the bar and kept on playing.

    But there has not been enough live music in the past in Venice (especially rock.) Hopefully that is changing, because if you keep the music, you keep the youth happy, and if you keep the youth happy, you’ll keep them in Venice.


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