From the point of view of contemporary jazz, everything John Zorn touches turns to gold. He’s an untiring composer, a sharp selector of musicians and a fastidious band conductor. He has converted his latest book of compositions, The Bagatelles, into a concert with the name of Bagatelles Marathon. Seven different groups, nineteen musicians, an uninterrupted two-and-a-half hours of musical torrent. Everything goes in the creative universe of Zorn and the musicians in his team; everything, that is, of exquisite quality.
Yesterday’s other protagonist was a pianist. I can hear you say: Diana Krall, of course. Well yes. Diana Krall is always the protagonist, her star shines with its own light. It’s a luxury to have her here in San Sebastian. Hers was the first concert to sell out, and given the reaction of the audience and critics to her yesterday’s performance, she’ll continue to sell out every time she plays here.
Diana Krall needs no further words of praise. But in fact we had been referring to the Japanese pianist, Ai Kuwabara. The public packed into the Victoria Eugenia Theatre couldn’t believe that they were witnessing such a wonderful discovery, and in a free concert to boot. While Ai Kuwabara is indeed a prodigy of piano technique and brilliant execution, she has something else that prevents her from falling into simple academic rendition: ideas of her own which enable her to produce a unique reinterpretation of some of the jazz classics.
In the Plaza de la Trinidad, moments of great pleasure were brought to us not only by Diana Krall, but also by Houston Person, one of the tenor sax’s big names, who plays ballads as only the veterans know how. And the other illustrious and veteran saxophonist at this Festival, Charles McPherson, gave a fantastic concert in the Victoria Eugenia.
The San Telmo Museum hosts small-format concerts which are enjoying rising popularity with the public. Yesterday it was the turn of Baldo Martínez and his group, and the Galician double bassist once again demonstrated that he is one of the most representative musicians of contemporary jazz made in Spain.