Matt Bianco & The New Cool Collective, Al Di Meola and Levanter Breeze

Set in the iconic and fairy-tale looking venue of St. Michael’s Cave, the 5th Annual International Jazz Festival is taking place.

The crowd began to stream in and along the aisles to their seats, soon after the host took to the stage, thanked all the sponsors and gave a short introduction for tonight’s opening band, locals Levanter Breeze.

The 4 piece band took their places and the guitarist Peter Martinez told the crowd that their set was dedicated to the late Tyrone Moya, local bass-player and musician friend.

They began with a couple of swaying jazzy songs, followed by a slower ”Sands of Time”

The rest of the set was engulfed with jazz fusion licks on guitar, fluid detailed drums, precision bass playing and a wizard on piano, who plays effortlessly.

The whole repertoire was tight and beautifully composed and they received a standing ovation.

Please see slideshow below:

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Next up was Al Di Meola.

He was accompanied by a rhythm guitarist and an accordion player.

They delved straight in to playing, and immediately enraptured the whole audience with their clean, elegant and soothing playing.

Al took a moment to tell the crowd how he had written a lullaby for his daughter Ava called Dream Sequence, and as the name implies it was a dreamy and sweet melody.

They then played Turquoise from his 2006 album Consequence of Chaos.

Al then began to speak about music originating in the UK in the 60’s, most notably The Beatles and how he was so lucky to record his renditions of their songs at Abbey Road, which he said made him feel like a kid in Disneyland. They then went on to play his rendition of Because.

They followed this up with a song for Al’s grandfather’s place of origin, Cerreto Sannita in Italy; where Al says half of the town were called Di Meola. It was a sharp and piercing piece with his fingers working the fret-board at the speed of light.

The accordion player deserves a mention as he was a master at his art, and even accompanied the songs with animalesque vocal sounds and whistling along to the tunes.

Finishing off his set, he dedicated a song to the legendary Paco de Lucia, and played Mediterranean Sundance which had the whole floor clapping along in unison and ended in an eruption of a standing ovation.

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After a short wait, The New Cool Collective bounced on stage and awoke everyone from the beautiful tranquil trance that Al Di Meola had left us all in.

They began with an instrumental, including instruments such as bongos, the triangle, saxphone, trumpet, flute and piano, and then introduced Matt Bianco’s singer Mark Reilly.

The songs had a cuban-latin feeling to them, and one of the songs had an African opening which had the crowd bewitched.

They had 2 musicians on percussion who would exchange instruments between songs and they both played the bongos and the timbales excellently.

Crowd-pleasers such as Whose Side Are You On? and Count Me In had the crowd singing and dancing in the aisles.

They also played More Than I Can Bear and Do The Right Thing, all topped off with the crowd’s favourite Don’t Blame It On That Girl, which had my mother, and many other people’s mothers, dancing in their seats.

The crowd gave their last standing ovation of the night and everyone danced on out of the cave.

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