Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Live music in Santander and beyond, October 2017

Three years ago, on Halloween, I published my first report of this kind. I’m happy to tell you that it’s not the last — I leave Santander at the end of November.

  • 4 October: Klezmer Clarinete Band @ Rvbicón, Calle del Sol 4, Santander
      For the last time, you don’t have to be Jewish or anywhere from Eastern Europe to play klezmer already. This lovely local project (all players live in Cantabria) features Héctor Abella (bass clarinet), Katia Aboli (clarinet), Antonio Gutiérrez (clarinet), Manuela Pozo (clarinet) and Víctor Aja (percussion).

  • 7 October: Benavent/di Geraldo/Pardo @ Teatro Campos Elíseos, Calle de Bertendona 3 bis, Bilbao
      Carles Benavent (bass), Tino di Geraldo (drums) and Jorge Pardo (sax and flute). It was a pleasure to see one-third of the Paco de Lucía sextet (CB and JP) some 21 years since I last saw them. Coming to Teatro Campos Elíseos straight after the Barinatxe beach was probably a mistake.
  • 11 October: Pau & Hamer @ Jimmy Glass Jazz Bar, Calle Baja 28, Valencia
      An unusual combination of French horn and electric guitar (Pau Moltó and Manuel Hamerlink, repectively) proved to be unexpectedly suitable for charming jazz ballads.
  • 13 October: Berklee Showcase VII @ Amstel Art, Veles e vents, Valencia
      Six up-and-coming bands made up of students of Berklee Valencia: Emma Sundvik and All Cats (jazz), Precious Perez (pop/R&B), Dan Caton & The Ladies in Waiting (American folk), giantQUEEN (neo-soul), Oro Velvet (Mediterranean folk) and Stereo Pocket (funk fusion).
  • 18 October: Rotem Sivan Trio @ Rvbicón
      On his European tour, the New York-based guitarist Rotem Sivan was accompanied by Rubén Carles (double bass) and Alessandro D’Anna (drums).

  • 21 October: Dani Nel·lo @ Kafe Antzokia, Calle San Vicente 2, Bilbao
      Dani Nel·lo (tenor sax) presents his new project, Los saxofonistas salvajes, featuring Pere Miró (baritone sax), Dani Baraldés (guitar), Hector Martín (guitar), Matías Míguez (bass), Anton Jarl (drums) and Albert Sabater (percussion). If you ever wondered if anyone still plays rock’n’roll as if 1960s never happened, here’s the answer. And a damn good one at that. The support band, Ghost Number & His Tipsy Gypsies, were not bad either.

  • 22 October: Homenaje Tom Petty @ Rvbicón
      I have to admit that I don’t know much of Tom Petty’s music beyond Traveling Wilburys, so for me this tribute by local musicians who came to play one, two or three songs each was not only emotional but also educational. Unfortunately, I don’t know (and didn’t make any note of) the participants apart from Yenia Popova of Chebú, whose performance was simply breathtaking.
  • 25 October: Ales Trío @ Rvbicón
      Saúl Crespo (violin), Antonio Romero (double bass) and Joansa Maravilla (oud, guitar and percussion): fusion of Spanish, Middle Eastern and Balkan music with jazz. Original compositions and themes such as Anouar Brahem’s Astrakan Café and Kroke’s Sun.

  • 29 October: The Hillbilly Moon Explosion @ Escenario Santander, Avenida de la Constitución 39 (Parque de las Llamas)
      Oliver Baroni (slap bass, vocals), Emanuela Hutter (vocals, guitar), Duncan James (guitar, vocals) and Sylvain Petite (drums) played their idiosyncratic mix of rockabilly, rock’n’roll, surf and swing. Fantastic show, shame about the venue (dark and far from anywhere) and (lack of) publicity: I learned about this concert just a couple hours before, and that was only because I went for a lunch in Taberna Santoña (Calle Peña Herbosa, 18) and saw there this poster.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Schau mich nicht so an

a film by Uisenma Borchu

I didn’t do any research prior to watching this film in CASYC (calle Tantín 25, Santander) and assumed (wrongly) from the title, “Don’t look at me that way”, that it is shown in its original English language. I was right about the “original language” though. It was screened in German and Mongolian, with Spanish (and German, in Mongolian sequences) subtitles.

This film defies easy categorisation. There is a fair amount of comic scenes, nudity and sex, however it is neither comedy nor erotica but something completely else. The fact that the protagonists, Hedi and Iva, are played by the first-time actors (Borchu and Catrina Stemmer, respectively) makes it feel very spontaneous, at times even documentary-like. At other times, the borders between reality and dream are blurred. When the shocking final scene comes, you are left wondering to which world(s) it belongs. Don’t look at me that way: it’s up to you what way to look at it.

The poem read by Iva’s father (Josef Bierbichler) is nothing else than Brecht’s Erinnerung an die Marie A. (Reminiscence of Marie A.); you may have heard the David Bowie version from Baal.

Bertolt Brecht
Erinnerung an die Marie A.
Bertolt Brecht, translated by John Willett
Remembering Marie A.
An jenem Tag im blauen Mond September
Still unter einem jungen Pflaumenbaum
Da hielt ich sie, die stille bleiche Liebe
In meinem Arm wie einen holden Traum.
Und über uns im schönen Sommerhimmel
War eine Wolke, die ich lange sah
Sie war sehr weiß und ungeheuer oben
Und als ich aufsah, war sie nimmer da.

Seit jenem Tag sind viele, viele Monde
Geschwommen still hinunter und vorbei
Die Pflaumenbäume sind wohl abgehauen
Und fragst du mich, was mit der Liebe sei?
So sag ich dir: Ich kann mich nicht erinnern.
Und doch, gewiß, ich weiß schon, was du meinst
Doch ihr Gesicht, das weiß ich wirklich nimmer
Ich weiß nur mehr: Ich küsste es dereinst.

Und auch den Kuss, ich hätt’ ihn längst vergessen
Wenn nicht die Wolke da gewesen wär
Die weiß ich noch und werd ich immer wissen
Sie war sehr weiß und kam von oben her.
Die Pflaumenbäume blühn vielleicht noch immer
Und jene Frau hat jetzt vielleicht das siebte Kind
Doch jene Wolke blühte nur Minuten
Und als ich aufsah, schwand sie schon im Wind.
It was a day in that blue month September
Silent beneath a plum tree’s slender shade
I held her there, my love so pale and silent
As if she were a dream that must not fade.
Above us in the shining summer heaven
There was a cloud my eyes dwelt long upon
It was quite white and very high above us
Then I looked up, and found that it had gone.

And since that day so many moons, in silence
Have swum across the sky and gone below.
The plum trees surely have been chopped for firewood
And if you ask, how does that love seem now?
I must admit: I really can’t remember
And yet I know what you are trying to say.
But what her face was like I know no longer
I only know: I kissed it on that day.

As for the kiss, I’d long ago forgot it
But for the cloud that floated in the sky.
I know that still, and shall for ever know it
It was quite white and moved in very high.
It may be that the plum trees still are blooming,
That woman’s seventh child may now be there
And yet that cloud had only bloomed for minutes,
When I looked up, it vanished on the air.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


by Paco Roca

Wrinkles? I don’t mind wrinkles (Arrugas, Rides etc.), in all this ageing business it’s memory loss that scares me the most. It’s not a laughing matter and definitely not a comic material.

Or so you’d think until you read this comic book. You won’t laugh out loud, but it’ll make you smile more often than you’d expect. Just try to get quickly past the first few pages which I found rather depressing.

A few days ago, a friend told me about the Valencian collective Les Veus de la Memòria, the first and only choir of Alzheimer’s patients in Spain. As I was watching the trailer of the documentary, I couldn’t help thinking who of its protagonists could be Emilio and who Miguel.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Live music in Santander, September 2017

The fourth edition of Raqueros del Jazz, organised and hosted by my beloved Rvbicón, is the first (and so far the only) jazz festival I’ve managed to attend in its entirety. It is unclear why the word raquero (according to one theory, derived from the English word wrecker) was used to name the festival, apart from giving it a Cantabrian flair. (There is a great interview with Marcos which still doesn’t shed any light on this.) I’d rather see it named Revolucionarios del jazz, because that’s exactly who these musicians are. If you are not convinced, look at the artwork. All the concerts took place in Rvbicón except the closing Big Bang de Santander which happened just outside of Rvbicón.

  • 5 September: Juan Sebastián Blue Note Trío featuring Bob Sands
      A friendly warning to all prospective parents: if you name your child “Johann Sebastian”, don’t be surprised if he turns a composer and virtuoso keyboard player. On the opening night of the festival, the young pianist Juan Sebastián Vázquez was joined by Francisco Manuel López (double bass), Daniel García Bruno (drums) and Bob Sands (saxophones). As much as I enjoyed Bob Sands’ emotive sax solos, the best two compositions this evening were sax-less.

  • 6 September: Juan de Diego Trío
      The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of this trio are Juan de Diego (composer and trumpeter; also, the brother of Víctor de Diego whom I saw in the very same venue in July), Dani Pérez (guitar) and Joe Smith (drums). If you have a chance to see them live, you won’t need me telling you that their music is nothing short of revolutionary.

  • 7 September: Noa Lur Quintet
      Noa Lur is an amazing jazz singer and certainly my biggest discovery on this festival. She mostly sings in English, but also in Spanish and even sang two songs in Basque, which, until now, I considered the second (after German) least suitable language for singing on planet Earth: Errua, from her latest album Trouble Maker, and Badakit, from her debut album of the same name. She was accompanied by David Sancho (piano), Ander García (bass), Alberto Brenes (drums) and Mauricio Gómez (sax).

  • 10 September: Jairo León
      Jairo León says that he is not really a pianist, just a Gypsy who uses piano to express himself. Ignore that, just listen to what he plays. He is the flamenco pianist. On this occasion, León was accompanied by Rubén Pérez (percussion), Yoni León and Yon Gabarri (handclaps), Juan Saiz (flute) and Dani Simons (bass).

  • 13 September: The Machetazo
      The Machetazo consists of Jorge Castañeda (piano), Daniel Juárez (sax), Nacho Fernández (guitar), Darío Guibert (double bass) and Mikel Urretagoiena (drums). Their album, 1290 Prospect Place, is named after the ridiculous brick house the members of the band were sharing in New York. (Look it up on Google Maps!)

  • 14 September: M.A.P.
      “M.A.P.” is simply the acronym of the surnames of the musicians Marco Mezquida (piano), Ernesto Aurignac (sax) and Ramón Prats (drums). They played for an hour or so without a single pause, fusing their highly original compositions in one single track. I wanted to buy a CD but they only had a two or three with them which were sold as soon as the concert ended. I told the sax player, perhaps a bit abruptly, that they came unprepared. To my surprise, he agreed with me and kindly ran to the hotel where he stayed to bring some more!
  • 24 September: Big Band de Santander
      Perhaps the least revolutionary of all, the BBS nonetheless provided a fitting end to the festival. The concert was originally scheduled on 17 September but moved to the following Sunday in the hope of improved weather. And the weather turned out to be really good. The Big Band de Santander featured Carol Martín (vocal), Antonio Pérez (alto sax), Luis Arroyabe (alto sax), Francisco Villanueva (tenor sax), Adolfo Noriega (tenor sax), Manuel Cavero (baritone sax), Benjamín Blanes (trumpet), Miguel Angel Duart (trumpet), Alberto Vaquero (trumpet), Jose Manuel Bolado (trumpet), Edu Diz (trombone), Jose Ávila (trombone), Rafael Santana (piano), Antonio Gutiérrez (double bass) and Rodrigo Irizábal (drums). The highlights included Big Spender, The Pink Panther Theme and Oye Como Va.

A couple more of musical events that I’ve been to this month included one utterly underwhelming and the other über-wonderful.

  • 20 September: Luz Odey & Co. @ Rvbicón
      The vocalist Luz Odey was accompanied by Gerardo Ramos (guitar), Jorge Ramos (sax) and Joansa Maravilla (drums).
  • 22 September: The Buttshakers @ El Almacén de Little Bobby, Calle del Sol 20
      Almost three years after I first saw them, The Buttshakers were back, even more buttshakingly awesome.