Outside the jazz festival there are as well a few interesting gigs in town and Cristina Branco in the Auditorio Nacional was one of them. Cristina is blessed with a voice and a control that is very unique and her place as one of the most impressive Fado singers is undisputed. The repertoire for this incredible show came mainly from her latest album ‘Menina’ and the rest from her extensive catalogue. The simplicity in the instrumentation, just piano, bass and Portuguese guitar, gives her voice focus and musical support, without drowning her in sound. A great artist, with style and taste, in the tradition of the Fado, but as well bringing the music into our times. Marvellous!!
On the 28th of November then was the show of the Dave Holland Trio, which should have played the Teatro Fernan Gomez and not the Clamores … but sometimes with all the shows going on during the festival, the better room is unfortunately not available… Nevertheless, the Trio, featuring beside Dave guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Obed Calvaire, delivered a show that must count as one of the best of the year: powerful jazz, blues and rock elements mixed to a unique brew that only musicians of this calibre can create! Despite some memorable soloing by Eubanks, this is first of all a group effort and without the different individuals it wouldn’t work the way it does. They include the whole history of jazz somehow, from blues to Miles (especially Tribute to Jack Johnson) plus a bit of the Band of Gypsies … with incredible group interplay and improvisations. Can’t wait until these guys are going to release their album next year!!! Sensational!!!
Just a day later another highlight of the festival, the solo piano concert of Tigran Hamasyan. I know Tigran and his music since many years and met his first when he was playing in the group of Dhafer Youssef. He has developed a unique voice on the piano and it shows best when working solo – from ‘a fable’, his first solo piano album from 2010 to the new solo recording ‘An Ancient Observer’, he has made various steps into becoming one of the most celebrated composers and performers today and the show in Madrid, in front of a very young audience, just showed that his music doesn’t know borders and attracts an audience that is not necessarily jazz, classical or world music oriented – they come to simply hear great music – and that’s what they got in abundance!
Another artist who wasn’t part of the festival, but surely worth checking out was China Moses, who performed on Friday, December 1st with her band in the smaller room of the Auditorio Nacional. China’s captivating soul, jazz and R&B mix didn’t really fit into the venue, which is more for acoustic music and therefore the sound wasn’t too good – unfortunately the drums drowned a lot of what else was going on … this only improved a bit after 3 songs … the really good band (featuring Luigi Grasso on sax and keyboards; Joe Armon-Jones on piano and keyboards; Neil Charles on bass and Marijus Aleksa on drums) did their best and China worked hard to get her audience going, which in the end happened and they did sing along and got up and danced … The music of the concert came from China’s latest album ‘Nightintales’, which, as the live show, I can only highly recommend.