Day of the masters


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Master Hussain. Master Holland. Master Potter. That’s how Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain and Chris Potter referred to one another. With respect, admiration and mutual understanding. And that’s what they are. They are masters in the execution of their instruments, and in the profound vision of jazz, and in composition. And in astonishing the audience.

Cécile McLorin Salvant still can’t be referred to as a master. Not yet. She’s too young. But she’s still there, she continues to unfurl that vocal register with that captivating timbre, she does do exciting things like that priceless version of Alfonsina y el mar she delighted us with, and she will be worshipped by the generations of the future.

Cécile McLorin Salvant herself recognised her debt to the great singers to have come before her, bringing Mary Stallings up onto the Plaza de la Trinidad stage to sing a blues duo. In the morning, Stallings had given a fantastic concert in the Victoria Eugenia Theatre, with that stage elegance found in classic jazz singers. The Heineken Jazzaldia, which appreciates the quality of this vocalist, less well known than she deserves, this year presented her with the Donostiako Jazzaldia Award in recognition of the importance of her entire musical career.

Pianist Brad Mehldau obtained his Master in Artistic Excellence a long time ago. His capacity to continue evolving and to reach new heights of sensitivity and lyricism amazes even his unconditional followers, many in number seeing how the Kursaal was packed to overflowing.

Another master is Mikel Erentxun, if we can understand as such a person who shows the way and who, years down the line, is remembered by students with affection and admiration. That’s what’s happening to Erentxun, as increasingly more musicians recognise the influence of his uncomplicated pop-rock. Many of his songs from twenty or thirty years back are just as up to the minute as they were then. His concert on the Green Stage was a joy for his unconditional audience and, why not say it, for Erentxun and his solid band, who had an absolute ball to themselves.

There were other masters too, like Rabih Abou-Khalil, virtuoso of the oud, and Dennis Alcapone and Dawn Penn, heralds of the reggae music made popular, all those 50 years ago, by London’s Trojan label.

With so many masters and such a diligent audience, this was a fabulous third day of the 53 Heineken Jazzaldia.

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