We decided to go to the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain, one of the jazz festivals we have been watching from afar for a long time. The program was announced in April and started selling tickets. The program was announced in April and started selling tickets. Almost all the tickets of the festival, which was held between 21-25 July, were sold out within a few weeks. The program was prosperous, but it was not possible to keep up with time. We had to work and choose. Önder preferred the guitarist-oriented program. Meanwhile, Selin Çelik, one of our magazine staff who lives in Madrid and has established herself as a producer there, talked about Jazzene, which she is also a part of. She got us invited to concerts. The organization, which is similar to Vitrin within the scope of our Istanbul Jazz Festival, aims to introduce local groups to the invited producers, organizers and journalists. There were a total of eight concerts this year, each containing two concerts. JazzEñe 2023 will offer a total of eight shows, each featuring two concerts, from 22-25 July. The performances will start at 12:30 in San Sebastian’s Victoria Eugenia Theatre at the 9th edition of this international Spanish jazz exhibition programmed, for the third year running, as part of the San Sebastian Jazz Festival / Jazzaldia, in collaboration with the Donostia/San Sebastian City Council and Donostia Kultura. The eight selected groups are among the finest examples of the up-and-coming national jazz scene: I listeneded all of these concerts.
The audience flocked en masse to all of the concerts at the San Sebastian Jazz Festival, breaking all-time records for attendance, with 191,000 people having packed out the 90 concerts running on 16 stages over 5 days. Tickets flew off the shelves for 15 of the 21 paying concerts. The ‘sold out’ sign was posted for 3 of the 4 nights at the Trini, for 3 of the 5 concerts at the Kursaal, for all those in the San Telmo Museum, for the two in the Sala Club, for one of those in the JazzEñe initiative and for the one taking place in the María Cristina Hotel. A total of 18,882 tickets were purchased from 40 countries around the world. For their part, the free concerts congregated 172,000 people.
We started to festival with the Kenny Barron Trio with Strings concert on July 21. It was very exciting to listen to the same trio that I listened on CRR before, this time with Basque Youth Orchestra Strigs (25 piece). Kenny Barron was accompanied on the piano by Kiyoshi Kitagawa on the bass and Jonathan Blake on the drums. Delaying the writing of this article was to wait for concert videos to be uploaded to Youtube. Jazzaldia started uploading 10 days ago.
The next day, on July 22, we listened to pianist Lucia Ray Trio and MOVE at the Victoria Eugenia Theater in Jazzene. Lucía Rey (piano), Ander García (double bass), Alberto Brenes (drums) played an impressive concert.
Since 2017, pianist and composer Lucía Rey has been fronting this band specialising in the fusion of different styles (flamenco, Latin Jazz, Mediterranean music, classic, pop…) from the angle of contemporary jazz. The band has participated in numerous major Spanish and international circuits and festivals, including Madrid International Jazz Festival, Getxo International Jazz Festival, Jazz Plaza (Cuba), Jazz in the Park (Romania), EUNIC Festival (Bucharest); Jazz en la Costa, Lugo Jazz Festival, Cadiz Jazz Festival, JAZZ I AM, Their latest offering, Nómadas, is a compendium of compositions with varied textures. An evocative journey to exotic places. Tha band is Lucía Rey (piano), Ander García (double bass), Alberto Brenes (drums).
MOVE Alberto Arteta (ts), Javier Callén (b), Miguel Benito (d), Iñigo Ruiz de Gordejuela (p).
MOVE is a quartet with five years of intermittent background with a recently published first homonymous album to its name. It is synonymous with movement, traction, travelling; each concert brings a flow of ideas that come together in space-time. In perfect symbiosis, this quartet fronted by double bass player Javier Callén, levitates towards the avant garde of contemporary pop music, with their feet rooted in Jazz, classical and folkloric tradition.
One of the most eagerly awaited of our concerts on the second day at Jazzaldia was the Julian Lage Trio’s concert in Trinitate. Julian Lage (guitar), Jorge Roeder (bass), Joey Baron (drums).
When Julian Lage came back to the stage for “encore”, he came with Bill Frisell, the guitarist he was a fan of, who would perform after him. They left the stage to Bill Frisell Four, playing a piece with their same colored guitars. Bill Frisell (electric guitar), Greg Tardy (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Gerald Clayton (piano, organ), Johnathan Blake (drums) took over the stage.
We went to listen to Abdullah Ibrahim Trio at Trinitate Plaza on July 23. It was like an African story to listen to this giant with tears in our eyes despite his advanced age and a little bit of temper. A plaque was also presented to him. The song at the end of the concert was about his life. Abdullah Ibrahim (piano), Cleave Guyton (flute, saxophone and clarinet), Noah Jackson (double bass, cello)
On July 23, we listened to Carles Margarit Quintet (Laura Ximó (vo), Xavier Algans (p), Carles Margarit (ts), Raimon Ferrer (b), David Xirgú (d) and NBGM Cuarteto) at Jazzene.
The NBGM band consisted of Lois Rivera (as), Nani Garcia (p), Baldo Martínez (b), Joe Miguel Cabana (d).
July 24 is the last day of our concerts. First we listened to Alto For Two, a band led by two Spanish and Danish female saxophonists at the Victoria Eugenia Theatre. Alto For Two is a project headed by two of Europe’s youngest and best prepared sax players, Kika Sprangers and Irene Reig. The duo have an extensive repertoire of their own creations. The artists’ combination of musical baggage results in an eclectic and distinctive proposal offering an elegant spectrum of sounds in quintet format. They will soon release their first album, bringing a new original repertoire highlighting the band’s art direction and evolution. Group members, Irene Reig i Romero (as), Kika Sprangers (as), Giuseppe Campisi (b), Xavier Torres (p), Marc Ayza (d).
Our last concert in Jazzene was with a Flamenco band. Nino Josele concert made us say that we didn’t miss this series. Guitarist Juan José “Niño Josele” Heredia is the son of the cantaor Josele and descendent of a long dynasty of tocaores and cantaores from Almeria. He began making his mark in the mid-90s, winning the Young Performers Competition at the Seville Flamenco Biennial in 1996. He has played in myriad countries, festivals and gatherings, with musicians from all fields, from flamenco players such as Paco de Lucía, Montse Cortés, Duquende, Remedios Amaya, Pepe de Lucía, Enrique Morente and El Cigala, to big-name international performers including Andrés Calamaro, Joan Manuel Serrat, Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys and Elton John. He has enjoyed particularly notable projection since his Latin Grammy nomination in 2010 for his album Española (2009), and again in 2012 for El mar de mi ventana. He has around a dozen albums to his name, the last of which is Galaxias (2022). The peculiarity of this album is that Chick Corea also took part in the recording before his death. The musicians we listen to on stage are; Niño Josele (flamenco guitar), José Heredia (piano, synthesizer), Dany Noel (electric bass), Miguel Lamas (drums), Manu Masaedo (percussion)
The last concert of the night was the Pat Metheny concert at the Kursaal Auditorium with a capacity of at least 2000 people. It started at 18:30. Drummer Joe Dyson came on stage first. Then, when the pianist, organ and keyboard players Chris Fishman and Pat Metheny came to the stage, the crowd was bursting with applause.
Pat Metheny made the opening with Linda Manzer’s multi-neck guitar. Throughout the concert, he used Ibanez, the new Pat Metheny model with Charlie Christian pick up. He also used 2 different synths and a few nylon string guitars. I am writing these details to the guitarists since there is no video recording.
For this concert at the Kursaal Auditorium, Metheny will present his project Side-Eye, a group that took its first steps with his live album Side-Eye (2021) and which provides a platform for hosting and supporting a rotating cast of new generations of musicians, a rotating group of musicians who have the option to come and go and who play new pieces while reinterpreting Pat Metheny’s older compositions.
The iconic guitarist wants today’s young musicians to enjoy the same support that he received from hallowed musicians, in his own words: “From my earliest days in Kansas City, I was the beneficiary of so many musicians who engaged me, which gave me the opportunity to develop through their experiences and the particular demands of their music”.
With his boundless creative energy on a never-ending journey of musical discovery, one of Metheny’s defining characteristics is the constant level of commitment and quality that he puts into everything he does. Whether emphatically electric, powerfully intense or deeply contemplative, performing compositions or in totally improvised format, or even with the odd innovative artifact of his own design, his music always bears the Metheny stamp of unmistakable sensitivity brought to us by this leading light of the Jazz world for almost five decades. Side-Eye is the latest chapter in his long and successful career, always in continuous development.