The current format of the festival offers an extended program. While most concerts and workshops are of course focused on jazz, you can find many detours into blues, soul, world music and even rock – although the selection is always of very high quality, and oriented to a sophisticated public. This makes the overall atmosphere quite different from most other Italian festivals, and the “funfair factor” is considerably toned down in favor of an experience more focused on the actual music and culture.
This spirit derives also from the character of the two leading organizing figures. Carlo Pagnotta, the original founder, is a longtime jazz enthusiast with a penchant for following the international festival scene, whose style he imported along with the artists. Renzo Arbore, the art director and president of the Umbria Jazz association, is mostly known in Italy as a television celebrity hosting comedy shows, but he is first and foremost a jazz musician (clarinet) with a passion for discovering new talents. The result of the encounter of their personalities is an exciting mix of famous international stars and lesser-known yet impressive Italian musicians, allowing the participants to experience the full spectrum of the modern jazz scene – and of course a novel way to live thousands-year old cities, their architecture, culture and food.