Franco Finucci speaks about the Celano Jazz Convention

Written by | Jazz Education, News

Recent scenes of the Italian community, singing across balconies during the lockdown period, have been an inspiration to many across the world and demonstrated the joy, love and connectedness that music can bring. Signs were made and held out to all to see that said ‘andra tutto bene’ which in English means ‘everything will be ok’. Never has there been a more important time for music to be the tool for us to come together as a community and Italy is and always has been, a leading force behind this.

The Celano Jazz Convention returns for its third year with a stunning list of guest tutors and innovative workshops developed to excite and inspire a wide range of students. This is much needed at this time and Jazz is the perfect tool to reflect, develop and share thoughts and ideas. Held over four days and this year, adapting delivery to online platforms, the convention is open to all levels from beginner to professional and is set to be an incredible event with global participation. The previous two conventions held were incredibly successful and the current situation was not going to stop artistic director Franco Finucci develop a fantastic programme of events. I spoke to Franco about why he started this project and how excited he was about this year’s convention:

‘It’s about the passion of Jazz. I’m a musician and I have many friends who are musicians and I just took the opportunity to develop and manage these masterclasses. It’s for people who are just passionate about doing Jazz from all levels – people who have never played before to professionals. The philosophy or mood of the teaching, if you like, is about no barriers – communication

Celano Jazz Artistic Director Franco Finucci

There are two parts to this exciting convention, the masterclass series, which runs from July 23rd to 26th and the ‘Jazz for Kids and Teens’ programme, which is a Jazz improvisation ensemble laboratory which runs from July 30th to August 2nd.

Jerry Bergonzi

The masterclass programme is open to professional and amateur musicians and brings together an impressive lineup of guest tutors to share and inspire. All the tutors are not only industry specialists, but educators, most of which are currently teaching at Italian Conservatoires and this allows a huge range to topics and areas to be delivered. The wealth of experience this group of tutors bring to this event is hugely exciting and it is not often you can access such a talented group of artists. Each tutor has created a short video introducing themselves and discussing their masterclasses on Facebook, which is not only a really lovely touch but informative and their enthusiasm and passion for the project is very clear.

Jerry Bergonzi, the American saxophonist, who is known from his extensive work with Dave Brubeck, including recording nine albums with him, is a special guest for this year’s convention and will be holding a three-hour class on the final day. Jerry is also a highly valued educator and author of several books on improvisation including ‘Inside Improvisation’ and this class will undoubtedly be a huge highlight.

Award-winning saxophonist Max Ionata, who is considered one of the major Italian saxophonists in the contemporary Jazz scene and was attributed with ‘opening new boundaries in Jazz’ by Jazz life magazine, is also signed up for the convention. Having played on over 70 albums, his experience of working in the industry will be invaluable.


As well as top-class musicians, it is great to see the inclusion of producer and sound engineer Marcello Malatesta. Having worked with an enviable range of artists across the world, including Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer and Ennio Morricone, his wealth of experience will give a thrilling insight to students looking to develop their skills behind the scenes too.

I highly recommend having a look at the full schedule of sessions and their introductory videos on Facebook which includes Marco Di Battista (Improvisation techniques and Jazz history), Giovanni Falzone (trumpet), Umberto Fiorentino (guitar), Elisabetta Antonini (vocals), Luca Mannutza (piano), Gabriele Pesaresi (bass and electric bass) and Marcello Di Leonardo (drums). There really is something for everyone.

The other part of the convention is the ‘Jazz for Kids and Teens’ programme, developed by Andrea Gargiulo. He has created innovative activities for children, enabling young people from the age of six up to eighteen to participate and experience Jazz through the creation of two orchestras. Based on the principles of the fantastic ‘El Sistema’ program, it aims to show children how easy it is to play an instrument without any prior musical or theoretical knowledge. The two Jazz modules (Younger and Junior) allow young people to approach Jazz with ease. Webinars cover a huge range of areas including the history of Jazz and Jazz theory, with an underlying principle of the power of the freedom within improvisation to communicate and work together.


The Celano Jazz Convention is a fantastic event developed and run by an inspirational group of musicians, who not only have the technical skills needed to educate, but the passion to break down barriers using Jazz as the tool. It allows for all ages and abilities to experience, reflect and develop our Jazz minds and at the perfect time. Sign me up.

Senior writer: Fiona Ross

Photo credits: Pietro Battistoni

Videos: Nightingale Studios

To apply to take part in the 2020 Celano Jazz Convention, visit the website and download the application forms.



Last modified: June 17, 2020