Jazzing in the rain



A huge storm unleashed a downpour on San Sebastian at 8 o’clock in the evening. The rain stopped at 9, and the concert in the Plaza de la Trinidad was able to start on time, as it always does, with the chiming of the hour on the Santa María Basilica clock. The square was packed with an audience decked out in the ponchos issued by the organisation.

In the end, everyone was delighted to have been there. Because the concert given by the Donny McCaslin Quintet, in the first half, and by the Maria Schneider & Ensemble Denada in the second, was one of the most impressive in the festival’s recent history. A brilliant McCaslin, splendidly accompanied by his dynamic musicians, is today one of the soundest values of contemporary jazz. The Norwegian band Ensemble Denada is a prodigy of group accomplishment combined with the excellence of its soloists; and when fronted by the directing, composing and arranging of Maria Schneider, things could hardly get any better.

In the Kursaal Auditorium, Joe Jackson opened his concert at full pelt. Fearless, like a daring trapeze artist. Many were those in the audience who asked themselves how he was going to keep up the intensity. A pointless question. A career of forty years and twenty-one albums isn’t made in a day, and if you’ve invented new wave and taken a tour through reggae, jump and R&B before returning to your original fury, it’s no problem at all for the likes of Joe Jackson.

Goshu ondo is a type of Japanese traditional dance. Around its beat, the delicate pianist Eri Yamamoto has constructed a delightful musical piece for jazz trio and choir. The trio is hers, and their mutual empathy is flawless. The voices are provided by a local group, the veteran Coro Easo, highly respected and acclaimed at home and abroad. Taken through its steps by Gorka Miranda, the choir perfectly understood Eri Yamamoto who, as well as being a fine instrumentalist, also revealed a warm personality. This was a pleasant and emotional performance played to a packed audience in the Victoria Eugenia Theatre.

Zahara began her career as a singer-songwriter of gentle guitar playing and captivating voice. Today we’re in Zahara’s rock period at the front of a hugely effective band as the vehicle for her new compositions. If the intimate Zahara enchanted listeners, her rock persona simply charms them. Her numerous fans were there, cheering her on as she performed on the Green Stage.

Following her on the same stage was the group from Barcelona, Dorian, all of a reference in today’s Spanish music scene with a successful international career, moving between new wave and electronics. Their show is musically and aesthetically striking and those who gathered to watch them on the beach were delighted.

A hugely successful day which would have hit new heights without the rain. While a number of the concerts on the Kursaal terraces had to be cancelled, for the main events on the programme it was business as usual and both the Trinidad and Green stages proceeded normally; of course the same applies to the closed venues, such as the Victoria Eugenia, the Kursaal and San Telmo where, incidentally, Paul San Martín and Lluís Coloma were the protagonists of an intense piano duo.

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