Summer = Festivals = Music

Yes, the summer starts well here in Madrid … not only because of temperatures around 38 degrees, but because of 2 festivals and a bunch of good gigs in clubs and theatres ….

This year’s MADgarden Festival opened with Imelda May – a powerful singer of rockabilly, with a voice that rocks and does ballads in a very touching way. She is simply the best in that area and the audience in the almost full garden of the University was with her from the first note to the last! A great band to give her back bone to rock on surely helps and her guys are just that: a great band, having fun and giving her the groove needed to rock the house. From her many hits to Sonny Bono’s Bang Bang, she kept the good times rolling! A fun night out with great music!

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Off to Clamores to see Avishai Cohen, the trumpeter that is. His trio TRIVENI performed a great set of improvised music that showcased the great talents of himself, his bass player and drummer Nasheet Waits, who are a very tight unit and communicated extremely well, reacting to each other and giving Avishai space to explore his own melodic inventions. His compositions are complex, yet always accessible and full of twists and surprises. On top of that the played a wonderful version of Mingus’ Goodbye Pork Pie Hat … what else can one ask for?

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Maybe to see Madeleine Peyroux again … with the same small group setting I had seen her early last year in London, Barak Mori on bass but with a new Brazilian guitar player instead of Jon Herington. Not much of a difference (Guillermo Montero maybe being a bit softer in his playing) – the simplicity of the group helps to focus on Madeleine’s unique voice and her constantly improving singing and obviously her very individual phrasing. Going through all her famous songs extremely relaxed and letting the music flow, created a special intimate atmosphere in the open air arena and her version of Randy Newman’s Guilty was really special. I can’t help it, I just love that girl!

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Then something completely new: Ganavya Doraiswamy! A young Indian singer, born in the US, but raised in South India, who studied at Berkelee and so met my friend Pablo Martin, with whom and Moises Sanchez on piano and Michael Olivera Garcia, she performed at the club Bogui on July 8th – wow! A truly unique singer with her own identity and idea about what to do: mixing her Indian tradition and jazz .. and this works in both ways .. so is the intro into Summertime sung in her native language and then switched to English and it is still all the same song …. And when she does traditional Indian songs which are hundreds of years old in a new jazzy way … all sounds fresh and captivating. This great band surely did help to make this night special – Moises is a great piano player with tons of ideas and lots of feeling and he made her smile in wonder a few times by his inventiveness…. and Pablo Martin Caminero is the anchor of all this, guiding and encouraging while Garcia fills the spaces and keeps the beat going. But it is the voice and control of Ganavya that is remarkable and her stage presence, mature, but shy. Special guest on two songs was the singer Angela Cervantes … wow, what a treat! Ganavya is surely someone to watch out for – the girl got it!

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Just quickly a few CDs by singers I want to recommend: Melody Gardot – Currency Of Men – probably her best album so far – simple and deep and all about her great song writing and her voice. Sublime! Jose James – Yesterday I had the Blues – of all the Billie Holiday tribute recordings I have heard, this is by far the best one. Jose is truly a great jazz singer, but we knew that, didn’t we? Kurt Elling – Passion World – this man can’t do anything wrong. Beautiful travels around the world via love songs. The master!

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