Ascona Jazz Festival – June 2016 By Mike O’Reilly

Set below the Swiss mountains and at the end of the Lake Maggorie sits Ascona . Each year  the town hosts a Jazz Festival.This summer festival celebrates the link between New Orleans and this quaint Swiss town.
Over a week the sounds of traditional and modern jazz fill the foreshore around the lake and the cafes,bars and caves…Easy is the word to describe the music and lifestyle  with hardly a sound hitting the streets until 11am.
This year the festival had to integrate with the fascination of soccer and of course the Euro 2016.This  is managed well overall (except when Germany,Switzerland ,France and Italy are playing)
The first thing that hits you when you embark the Ferry Milano (skippered by Daniel from Hobart) is that pony tails and loud clothes  on men  aged 60 + is alive and well.
The festival celebrated the jazz greats of Louis Armstrong ,Blossom Dearie,Django,Anita Day ,Professor Longhair, Dr John 
to name a few.
The musicians are excellent  and the manner in which the New Orleans and European artists blend is simply amazing.This year the festival even created a New Orleans food experience with po’boys,gumbo,creole cuisine being available at Pappa Joes.
Our highlights include the realisation that the world is now a small place..last year on a visit to New Orleans we were enthralled by the jazz at Preservation Hall.The exceptional trumpet player  and personality there was Kevin Louis..we noticed him next day at the departure lounge at the international airport playing with a group of local musicians and here he was at Ascona playing with the New Orleans Jazz Vipers.The festival even has small group of musicians and performers from the Treme Brass Band that are a regular feature each year, including a march through the town followed  by jazz fanatics from all over the world..and being cheered from the balconies above,by by locals and visitors.
Artists to impress were Aurora Nealand and Tom McDermott (NO) and Australian Hetty Kate ,Monica Trapalga and the jazz ensemble also from Australia called Swing Rocket.
Then there was the amazing Anais St John..sultry singing  at its best with the audience refused to stop applauding after her version of “don’t you feel my leg”.. her seductive swaying to the beat of her Italian band will have her booked again to appear for sure at next years festival.She amazed the crowd further when she said her profession was a teacher , and she was a mother and wife  before she launched into “the lady is a tramp”
Hetty Kate is a must to see when she returns to Australia later this year.. She even had to contend with the loud nearby church bells during one of her quiet love songs towards the end of her set.Not bad for a Carlton supporter.It was encouraging to have many locals indicate that the best bands/artists over the past few years were from Australia.
The scheduling of the concert also enables the fit and well to explore nearby villages and of course the best pizzas on the planet.
However, the next few years will be interesting in this festivals development as it endeavours to maintain its uniqueness within the relatively small confines of the area.
Mike O’Reilly