Time in Jazz is Sardinia’s most renowned music festival. Up-and-coming young artists join world-famous guest stars during the last week of August in Berchidda. If you are in Sardinia, you have to check it out. But, wait a moment. You said you hate jazz?



Here’s a key moment in La La Land (2017) – winner of a record seven Golden Globes, nominated for a joint-record of fourteen Academy Awards:

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling, a young jazz pianist): What do you mean you don’t like jazz?

Mia (Emma Stone, a young actress who doesn’t like jazz): It just means that when I listen to it, I don’t like it.

Which really begs the question: who loves jazz? Is it just pretentious music nerds like Sebastian or can it be enjoyed by everyone, including those that apparently dislike it like Mia?


What is jazz music after all? An answer might be put down into words despite Louis Armstrong’s belief that: “Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know”.

Jazz can be very complex, weird, and abrasive, but then you could say that about any genre. However, jazz displays a large variety in all of its sub-genres ranging from dizzying swing to transcendental hard bop, to easy listening smooth jazz and emotive soul jazz, cool jazz, free jazz, jazz fusion and jazz-funk.

Jazz event Timeinjazz
@timeinjazz and their magic event in the natural reserve of San Teodoro's lagoon


Most jazz however is very rhythmic. It has forward momentum called “swing”, uses “bent” or “blue” notes, and often you can hear “call-and-response” patterns. That is all good and well yet you may still ask yourself what sets jazz apart from other music.


Distinctly, jazz is not the result of choosing a tune, but an ideal that is created first in the mind, inspired by one’s passion, and willed in playing music. Jazz music is a language, sometimes intimate, often boisterous, but always layered with experience and life profoundly lived. Jazz is truly found in the act of creating the form itself. As Sonny Rollings said: “The art of improvisation and reaching people with spontaneous music is what jazz is all about”. Not so improvised is Time in Jazz.

timeinjazz jazz event in Sardinia
@timeinjazz and their magic event with view over Tavolara island


In 1987 Paolo Fresu was already an affirmed Jazz player renowned the world over. Approached by Berchidda’s mayor he was urged to think about a music festival. He thought about it. And after a while, he put down a few ideas for the future on a white sheet of paper by using his old green Olivetti Lettera 22 typewriter. What he intended to was to express his gratitude for his gift and give back to his community. What better way to do all that than to share his love for jazz?

The challenge he faced was how to make the festival original and innovative. “Our intention – he wrote back then – is to offer music proposals you cannot find on the regular circuit, so as to justify the choice of Berchidda as a place where something’s happening”.

time in jazz concert Berchidda Sardinia
@antatadin captures a moment of the Jazz concert in Berchidda


While his music friends immediately got the idea, it took a lot of time and patience for the inhabitants of Berchidda – and the rest of Sardinia – to warm up to it. Just as Paolo was patient when learning how to play the trumpet for the local town band, he was patient for a second time when waiting for his voice to be heard.

When did he know he had succeeded in reaching out? “About ten years after our beginning, after we had already founded the jazz society that manages the festival, I read an article” he explains. “A shepherd from my hometown, interviewed by a visiting journalist, claimed he was making his cows listen to jazz music – they gave more milk and of better taste. [Right then] I knew we made it”.


All visitors too perceived this peculiar feeling. They come back because they are attracted not only by the international jazz star artists that perform every year but also by the festival’s unique atmosphere.

The venues are ever changing – an old church in the countryside, the shore of a placid lake, the intricacies of a Sardinian forest, a vineyard surrounded by stones. “Berchidda – in line with our project and philosophy – is the sudden clang of the cowbells of a flock crossing the street a few feet away from who’s playing; it’s the cicadas whose loud sound daze you yet accompany you while Antonello Salis plays in the heat wave of the summer in a remote Romanesque church in the countryside.”

In Time in Jazz there is as much jazz music as there is Sardinia. And when taken in together they often lead to emotional responses, with many people attending the concerts being touched to tears.



The secret of appreciating jazz is, in fact, to set aside any attempt at deciphering it and instead relating to it, feeling it. Then, like Mia at the end of La La Land, you might find yourself loving it too.


The epicentre of Time in Jazz is the town of Berchidda. If you go there make sure to visit the Wine Museum and the Jazz Society Headquarters downtown.

However, music stages have recently been set up in different towns as well. Thus, you have an additional convenience in enjoying jazz closer to where you are. Or perhaps, you can use that as an excuse to explore nearby locations you never heard about before.

You can check this year’s programme at TimeInJazz.it