It has been a few tough weeks for the music world – the passing of three influential and important people have left a big void … possibly one not to be filled ever.
B.B. King truly was the King of Blues, defining a genre over 5 decades of music making. I heard him first on an album my father had at home when I was about 10 or 11 – Live at the Regal, which is worth checking out, a gem among the many great recordings B. B. left for us. I am glad I did see him perform as well – a special musician with a unique sound on his instrument, a great performer and someone who never stopped being creative and spontaneous on stage.
Bruce Lundvall might not be known to the general public as such, but he has been an immensely respected and influential music business executive – from Electra Musician to the revamp of the prestigious Blue Note label, he did it all – with a passion and love for the music and their creators, which has been second to none. For me he was kind of a role model in many ways – the passion, the determination, his way in treating artists fairly and honest and the good taste in picking the right artists at the right time and sticking with them … lots to learn there. I met the man a few times and we chatted about music … what else? I recommend to everyone to read his biography, to get some insight into this man’s life and work.
Bob Belden, the immensely talented musician, composer, producer, writer, was a true renaissance man, who, being just 58 years old, passed away much too soon. We had met a few times over the years and the kind spirit he was, we stayed in touch, him sending the occasional track, info what he was working on or an article about one of his projects, deservedly proud about the reviews he got. Just a few months back he had a trip to Iran, on which the NY Times reported – asked in an email how the experience going there was, he just wrote to me: ‘Amazing! Beyond my wildest dreams’. I am glad he could live this dream.
And what did you do on International Jazz Day? Checking out the live stream from the main event in Paris online, featuring a host of jazz stars including OKeh’s Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dhafer Youssef, or going local and check out what the club in your town had to offer? That’s what we did – Clamores Jazz in Madrid didn’t offer anything specific under the umbrella of International Jazz Day, but used the day to celebrate 25 years of the Spanish jazz magazine Cuadernos De Jazz and to remember its founder Raul Mao, who unfortunately passed away 2 years ago. The magazine has its prominent place in the history of jazz in Spain and is today, as an online edition only, run by Raul’s widow Maria Antonia and still a great source of information for the interested listener and reader.
After short speeches about Raul and the magazine the music proceedings started with pianist Agusti Fernandez, who performed with the drummer Lucia Martinez. The pianist, who has worked with Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and other musicians of the European avant-garde jazz scene and the young drummer and percussionist Lucia Martinez (Jason Lindner, Alexander von Schlippenbach, etc.) started with powerful improvisations in which Fernandez took the lead and Martinez followed sensibly by listening and watching the pianist and when he let her took the lead, a great improviser showed her skills.
This opened the appetite for the main course of the evening: the Joachim Kühn Trio featuring alt-saxophonist Ernesto Aurignac und drummer Ramon Lopez, who has played and recorded with Joachim before. Kühn is a European jazz legend, one of Germanys leading musicians in that genre, who has won many awards for his music, but still continues to challenge and is still one of the most exciting and powerful pianists in a freer sense to listen to. And he was one of only very few pianists Ornette Coleman chose to work with and record a beautiful album with and during the night Joachim called two Ornette tunes for the trio to perform – they did so in a very tight and powerful way, Joachim improvisational skills leading the way to open up the compositions, leaving a little melodic touch lingering and still driving with relentless force to new areas within the song. In the end Joachim as well took up his horn and he and Ernesto blew out the night. An impressive and worthy celebration.