Sonny @ Vitoria-Gasteiz

For one night only, Sonny Rollins stopped in Spain to perform at the Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival on July 21st.

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Right from the start the band sounded great and completely focused and together (Sonny told me afterwards that at the rehearsal he had to be a bit tough with them to get them to the point where he wanted them to be .. musically). Steve Bernstein, git,; Clifton Anderson, tb; Bob Cranshaw,b; Kobie Watkins, dr; and Sammy Figueroa, perc. performed as a group and gave Sonny space and support to solo extendedly. There were moments when Sonny took off completely, leaving the bad behind him and going to places which were based on what the group played, but solitaire, as only he did venture there to discover unique musical expressions and sounds. With almost 82 years of age, he still is doing gigs of over 2 hours (here he had a 20 minutes break between sets – unfortunately, as the second half was not as outstanding as the first, with the exception of one unaccompanied solo by Sonny of at least 10 minutes … pure genius). He was truly working hard on stage .. and off stage as well, as he did come after the show to meet his fans and sign records – which took around 1 1/2 hours … starting at half past midnight!

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Before Sonny’s show I went to see trumpeter and composer Ibrahim Maalouf, who performed in the the Teatro Principal Antzokia as part of the Cycle Jazz Del Siglio XXI (among others in the cycle performing were Tigran Hamasyan, Phronesis and Ambrose Akinmusire). Very impressive and powerful music. Jazz with a bit of rock and north African influences – haunting and full of energy at the same time. I bought his latest CD Diagnostic and will check it out in the coming days.

And after Sonny I catched a bit of the Jonathan Batiste Trio, which played for a week a set around midnight at the hotel and then was the group leading the late night jam sessions. Jonathan is not only a great and versatile pianist and composer, but as well a intelligent and funny entertainer. Someone to watch for the future.

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