The handicaps of Gorka Benítez and the divorces of Thierry Biscary

On Saturday, passing football and bullfighting on TV, we did double live music: at 7 we were at the Sarriko Conservatory, where the Bilbao saxophonist Gorka Benítez starred in the second of the eleven autumnal sessions that currently comprise the 30th season of the Bilbaína Jazz Club (at € 12 the ticket there were more than 100 souls in an auditorium calibrated for 180), and at 8.30 we were at the Maritime Museum, in the sixth Euskaldun Loraldia festival, where the Basque-French Thierry Biscary sang (tickets for € 10 sold out in advance for a capacity restricted by the covid to 60 souls no more: in petit committee, as the Frenchman said).

A former student of Sarriko’s own conservatory, actually called Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga, the tenor saxophonist and flutist Gorka Benítez (Bilbao, 1966; since 1999 he is a resident of Barcelona) gave in a trio a concert much superior to the one he offered this summer in the municipal pandemic series Uda Jazz leading the Baleen Lobak quartet. At the end of Sarriko Benítez’s gig, he told us, ahem, actually he told me that the published review of that summer performance seemed mean, destructive of the whole scene, that if he was not understood when he spoke it was due to a nasal injury, that The only thing he liked about that text was the comparison of a song with Morricone (“a great one”) and surely what hurt him the most, because he referred to it twice, was the bona fide comparison with Christopher Cross for a couple of pieces melodic“Are you going to compare us with Richard Clayderman today?”, ironized). After that welcome trickle, we no longer dare to criticize the officiating attire, unglamorous to perform in front of the public (of such persistent scourge among Spanish jazz musicians we can pardon the drummer, sober and ironed black).

Well, on Saturday Gorka Benítez played the best time we’ve ever seen him: for phrasing, daring scales, the use of the flute that was not reliable on this occasion, diversity of the repertoire, and concentration of himself, the leader of the trio , who had all the music inside his head. Notwithstanding which, the concert didn’t quite take off for two fundamental reasons: first, Abel Boquera’s organ did not work (jopé …), and second, that due to a personal problem, the usual Benítez drummer, David Xirgú, was absent, who was replaced in extremis by the local Juan Luis Castaños, who was he learned at all costs to run some scores that he did not quite master.

The encore with Boquera standing on the piano, Benítez on the flute and Castaños. / Carlos Gª Azpiazu

And so, between the drums sometimes too loud and strident, the piano often too low, and with the trio not finishing flowing between the three angles, Benítez saw them and wanted them to fix the mess, to raise the wave in a slightly increasing concert (thank goodness) of 9 original parts in 62 minutes. After a discouraging topic due to the aforementioned technical and sonic handicaps, the leader spoke: “It is always a pleasure for me to come to Bilbao, so I see part of the family and colleagues.” He was referring to musicians present in the audience. And he finished: «Our recognition for being so brave and coming to enjoy culture. The applause goes from us to you. And then he piloted a kind of suite with rude pop drums of the substitute and general urban bustle (‘Behera’).

From the third onwards, more palatable moments began to be savored, in the case of hard bop scales with a circular and urban vibe (‘El muro’), more well-cared melodies from Benítez (‘Ronda Kalea’), short quick bop that in a dark club (there is too much lighting in the conservatory) would have blown the roof off (‘Salto de prea’, the second best song), or a ballad with brushes where the tenorist He noticed in his face that he was feeling the interpretation although the trio did not finish combining (‘Only the truth is sexy’). They closed with a piece in project, experimental and progressive titled ‘Mary Pop Things’, and they gave an encore with the optimal point of the evening, ‘Pa de pub’, an original by Benítez that sounded like an acid jazz version as it imitated the flute in the style of Lou Donaldson, Herbie Hancock and other geniuses of Blue Note .

Gorka was very inspired, but the circumstances (the keyboard did not sound when it did perfectly during the test, the drummer found himself at the last minute …) caused many of us to leave unsatisfied again (Hopefully after 24 hours the residue of good will emerge, which was and above all was contributed by the head of the trio).

Thierry Biscary opening solo at the Loraldia.
Thierry Biscary opening solo at the Loraldia. / David herranz

After a short subway ride, we reached the auditorium of the Maritime Museum, where the vocalist and percussionist Thierry Biscary (Anhaux, Baja Navarra, 1976), a former member of Kalakan, performed (they toured for a year with Madonna, surely not the comparisons don’t hurt him with commercial names), who on Saturday at the sixth Loraldia festival officiated in a quartet completed by Jérémie Garat (voice, guitars, cello), the sparkling Joël Merah (mandolin, Portuguese guitar, acoustic bass) and the Zarauztarra Amaiur Cajaraville (double bass), the four well dressed, the subordinates with vests and up to three clothes those chosen by Biscary during his intervention of 20 pieces in 107 minutes in which he reached the sincere transmission with the respectable abductee.

Thierry said that his new project ‘Muda’ serves as a change of skin, which is a radical mutation after many years in which he has lived in up to 13 houses and where he has experienced personal and artistic divorces. And so, starting with Basque folk and evolving to the most international musicAfter taking a toll on chanson or jazz, for example, Thierry gave a very floating, weightless concert, sometimes with an air of a waltz (not explicitly such a rhythm).

Joël Merah, Thierry Biscary, Amaiur Cajaraville y Jérémie Garat.
Joël Merah, Thierry Biscary, Amaiur Cajaraville y Jérémie Garat. / David herranz

With a perfect sound by technician Mikel Fernández Krutzaga (he has a Grammy for having produced the same album awarded to Kepa Junkera, a hug for him!), Thierry conducted a beautiful, varied and very delicate encounter from which we will glean several titles: he began alone and accompanied by a percussion without sounding medieval (‘Manez eta Ñakosa’), he produced chamber pop (‘Mudatzen’), he improved the Basque singer-songwriter wave a la Mikel Markez (‘Tatuaia’), he dramatized the vocal solemnity of Iparralde (‘Begizkoa’, lyrics by Jon Maia, reported), he enlisted himself to the chanson (‘Begoak’, lyrics by Itxaro Borda, he pointed out in the presentation), again alone he became ancestral and euskaldun ( ‘100 alargunen dantza’, which he also sang when he collaborated with Oreka TX in the past Getxo Folk), he wore a jazz duet with the double bass player (‘Elurra Irunan’), with the band fully reincorporated, he opted for the twilight (‘Gau xoila’), and during the epilogue he showed off and spread his inspiration in ‘Badakizuia Maritxu’ (with a mandolin reminiscent of Moustaki and Thierry whistling happily at the final), ‘Larrean amoroski’ (an ethereal, theatrical and chansonnier swing with him whistling happily again) and ‘Zapetagilea’ (more chanson with Thierry singing with great gusto).

The highly requested double encore closed with the curious farewell of the quartet at ground level in a duduá song (‘Xarma’), twentieth cartoon of a very prettyA very modern and truly global demonstration of Thierry Biscary’s new orientation.


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