Thursday, December 2

The strength and enthusiasm of the young

On Saturday there were many bowling in Bilbao and in the afternoon we chose two that met, even exceeded, our positive expectations: at 7 o’clock the Basque-Polish saxophonist Andrzej Olejniczak participated in the 30th season of the Bilbaína Jazz Club, and at 9 o’clock the mixed and emerging Euskaldunes Nogen They appeared at an appointment set up by the Hirian mini-festival in the Sala BBK (the same one where they were absent due to coronavirus on September 26, on the tenth birthday of the Gran Vía room).

At 7 o’clock, at the Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga Conservatory in Sarriko, in the fourth of the eleven autumn sessions of the 30th year of the Bilbaína Jazz Club, the tenor sax Andrzej Olejniczak (Zduńska Wola, Poland, 1954), a Basque neighbor since 1984, officiated. He was in charge of a sextet completed by his students from the San Sebastian conservatory high-performance Musikene and baptized Andrzej Olejnizack Young Power Sextet (youth energy sextet, we could translate, or also vigor, strength…). For the sake of the pandemic, two of the musicians failed, but in the end, after much paperwork and bureaucracy, the line-up with these musicians was finished: tenor saxophone and Polish boss from Urduliz, Barakaldo’s drummer, Asturian pianist (substitute for the absent Jorge Fernández), Sevillian double bass player, trombonist from Lisbon, plus alto sax from Zaragoza (substitute for the planned Eolo Andino).

Andrzej Olejniczak, headdress with hat.
Andrzej Olejniczak, wearing a hat. / CARLOS Gª AZPIAZU

The six, dressed correctly to be jazzmen of the Spanish scene, with their shirts and the leader with his hat, knew their lesson and gave a 7-piece growing gig in 78 minutes streamed via Instagram (the first time I did it in Polish). They had a pass although the solos seemed to fill in the first two pieces (Ron Carter’s inaugural version ‘Eighty-one’ and the promising original ‘Fog’s night’ by trombonist Adrián), and from then on everything was lavish, inspired, luxurious : the mastery since Andrzej’s solo introduction in the let’s say empowered ‘Black Widow’, John Coltrane’s adaptation of ‘Central Park Wst’ that sounded like a movie and installed in the collective memory, the frenetic bop drums-tenor sax duo ‘Puccini’s walk’ (original by double bass player Eddie Gómez, who named it because his cat thus baptized walked with a very unique tumbao), the privilege and inspiration of ‘La Último Chance’ (a piece like all optimistic and very well harmonized by the sextet), and the encore with Eddie Harris’s ‘Cold duck time’ in happy party mode and acid jazz dance with honkers honking and funny false endings. The best concert of the four that we have enjoyed in this 30th Bilbaína Jazz Club cycle.

Andrzej Olejnizack Young Power Sextet at the Sarriko Conservatory.
Andrzej Olejnizack Young Power Sextet at the Sarriko Conservatory. / CARLOS Gª AZPIAZU

And at 9 o’clock we were in the Sala BBK, in the second and last of the two days of the mini Hirian festival, which aimed to reproduce the spirit of the massive Bilbao BBK Live festival in the center of Bilbao. The five Donostiarras from Nogen, one of the most popular groups among the vernacular youth, performed and gave an also growing gig of 14 songs in 63 minutes that started hesitantly (Azpiazu from his objective noticed his singer, Eider Sáez, very nervous, who did not stop jumping, rotating, smiling and addressing the public predisposed and close to them) and in a hodgepodge caused by his mere sense of urgency and his insistence on the choruses ooohhh-ooohhh copied from Munford & Sons (Nogen seems to be short of influence: they are so young …). During his prologue got their best track with ‘Marean’ and their Celtic spirals (and the spotlights, because there was more visual than acoustic punch), always without abandoning the commercial illusion that sometimes makes one think of the people of Bilbao, Debajo del Paraguas, Huntza without trikitixa or Van Gogh’s La Oreja in folk.

Someone in the BBK Room.
Someone in the BBK Room. / CARLOS Gª AZPIAZU

Also flashes of white light that illuminated the room highlighted another of his three best songs on the set-list, the quasi post-rock ‘Mila aldiez’. And until the end Nogen were more confident and released songs that were more bridged, less uncontrolled, from the Radiohead affected pop ‘Oxigenoa’ to the emulations of La MODA (the acclaimed ‘Keari’, then a remarkable ‘Ez da ondo aterako ‘with passages in Spanish that in the recorded version the leader of the Burgos sings), his hit’ Nora ‘that we have seen them solve with more grace (evident prerecorded vocals were cast that could have been saved), and the novel and somewhat Huntza’ Zure begira ‘that they played for the first time before the real public (although they already did it in streaming, they reported).

And don’t stop reading Well, there was a long and quadruple encore, opened by a circular folk piece with the five in front of the stage in a hippie style and almost a cappella (‘Loreak’, and from the chair next to Azpiazu watched, shaking his head in disapproval), refrains something Julieta Venegas (‘Deskon’) or the closing a la Fleet Foxes (‘Enarak’), goodbye to a show which has a lot to polish (and add, because the ukulele generates devertebrating hollows), but what counts is that the five of them have a great time, they are excited, and their audience holds the pull until they chant, raise their arms, clap your hands and dance with your ass glued to the seats (excuse me). We went out (I was the first, heh, heh …) and the dissatisfied Azpiazu calibrated, the fourth to leave the venue that had exhausted the few entrances of the pandemic capacity: “Like Hesian, but in folk.”

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