Held every June (21st to 26th June in 2011) the Calvi Jazz Festival is a wonderful time to visit Northern Corsica. I came across the festival by accident during my first visit to Corsica many years ago. I fell in love with Corsica and the Jazz Festival. Here’s why!
After a morning enjoying the crystal clear waters of one of the many stunning beaches of La Balagne and an afternoon exploring the delightful villages nestled in the hillsides…
…I sipped a cool beer by the marina with views across the waters to snow capped mountains while listening to a free jazz concert, before dining at one of the many lovely restaurants that can be found in Calvi. While I ate another band started playing. They moved from restaurant to restaurant, along the marina and through the backstreets. After dinner I saw a fantastic concert at the foot of the citadel and as I still had just a little energy left I ended the day listening to more live jazz in a bar until the early hours.
On another evening, for a change of scene, I tried the free early evening concert in the Oratoire in the citadel. The gigs here cover a variety of other musical genres and this is probably my favourite venue. It is an intimate, peaceful setting for a concert. Although the quality of the artists is sometimes not quite as high as in the other venues, some of acts I have seen here have been truly outstanding. In 2006 I was lucky enough to catch the Cuban duo, Alma n Niurka. The gig started with a half empty room but their stunning vocals and exciting guitar playing quickly enticed passers by in off the street and soon the room filled up. A wonderful concert followed and I eagerly bought their CD at the end. One of my favourite concerts of all time and still one of my favourite albums.
This year the week started with a free concert by Tao By timed to coincide with Fête de la Musique (the annual music festival held across France to celebrate the summer solstice). Other headliners for the week included Panam Panic, the Andy Emler MegaOctet, Marc Lelangue and the Heavy Muffuletas with a Ray Charles tribute night and finishing on Sunday with the Florence Fourcade Quartet.
I particularly enjoyed Salsa Night! The Saturday night by the foot of Calvi’s citadel started with a dance display by the local salsa club followed by a great concert: ‘Orlando Poleo y su Chaworo’ that had everyone out of their seats dancing. Percussionist Orlando led the band with gusto and did a particularly memorable solo that stopped the dancing in it tracks as the audience stood still, transfixed by his drumming.
For me this year’s line-up didn’t disappoint with numerous jazz bands, choirs, a percussion troupe and the fantastic salsa band. Although true jazz fans may prefer it if there was less variety to the musical styles on offer I felt there is still plenty of jazz at the Calvi Jazz Festival.