The Lost Weekend on Tenerife: From Impro Jazz to Stomping on the Neighbour

Posted: July 9, 2009 in Life, music, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
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Where does time go to in this odd place? It disappears like smoke from a puro on the breeze; a slight aroma in the air the only clue that it ever existed…

Note to self: – When watching a concert in Tenerife, don’t stand next to the group of trendy españoles chain smoking reefers; you know you can’t handle it.

ST Fusion - Jazz and Japan

ST Fusion - Jazz and Japan

Last year we’d caught some of the Jazz Festival down by the harbour in Puerto de la Cruz. It was nice, easy trad jazz which had the mainly mature audience tapping their feet in appreciation…this year’s was completely different.

First up on Saturday night was ST Fusion – a mix of traditional Japanese and improvisation jazz. I realise modern Jazz isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Armada Sur’s ‘General’ Chris Todd likens it to a piano crashing off the stage and I can see what he means.

The first time I saw improvisational jazz at the Brecon Jazz Festival, I was still waiting for the band to start playing when the rest of the crowd were shouting for an encore – I thought they’d been tuning up.

However, although I don’t really understand it, I like it. As the hauntingly classical Japanese rhythms segued into anarchic and seemingly random riffs from the double bass player I was seduced by the energy and originality of the music.

ST Fusion were followed by the James Taylor Quartet. The name alone induced thoughts of Dixieland and men in purple shirts and panama hats, but once you know that James Taylor was once signed to punk label Stiff Records, you realise that safe, foot tapping Jazz wasn’t likely.

James Taylor Quartet - there were six of them!

James Taylor Quartet - there were six of them!

James Taylor positively demanded that the audience dance to the Quartet’s (actually it was a sextet on this occasion) Jazz Funk Fusion sounds and the crowd responded perfectly.  It was a Hi-Energy performance from both band and audience and the first time I’ve seen a crowd dance to improvisational jazz – everyone humming along to the ‘Starsky and Hutch’ theme tune was particularly bizarre.

It was also great to see Puerto buzzing with Spanish visitors; it gives the town a vibrancy during summer that isn’t necessarily found in other places on the island and is completely at odds with the sedate reputation that it has with some Brits.

On Sunday we had to head into Santa Cruz to pick up Gomeran Jo who was returning from the UK. Last time we saw Jo it was my Birthday; this time it was Andy’s.

Andy had wanted to spend the morning walking in the Orotava Valley and the afternoon on the beach, but as Jo only had one pair of shoes with her that were suitable for the streets of Manhattan but not the forests of Tenerife, the walking plans went west. Instead we spent a leisurely and sweltering day at the beach catching up and bitching about how women with flat derrieres really shouldn’t wear thongs and how it should be illegal to sell thongs to men altogether. If you’re a people watcher and a signed up member of the style police, Playa Jardín usually has loads of material to keep you occupied, especially if you deliberately choose a spot furthest from the olive skinned chicas with the perfect bodies (Andy and Jo assumed responsibility for choosing where to spread the sarongs).

In the evening we made a spinach and feta tart, cracked open a cava or two, stuck on some Massive Attack and Leftfield and sat outside chatting under a clear sky and watching the occasional shooting star streak across the universe until Jesús appeared clutching his right thigh and asked for a volunteer to stand on him.

So that was how Andy spent 30 minutes of her birthday; standing on our neighbour’s thigh as he lay prone on our terrace. It wasn’t a conventional way to celebrate your birthday, but hey, this is the north of Tenerife…conventional isn’t an option.

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  1. […] The Lost Weekend on Tenerife: From Impro Jazz to Stomping on the Neighbour Living beneath the volcano – PeopleRank: 2 – July 9, 2009 …Chris Todd likens it to a piano crashing off the stage and I can see what he means. The first time I saw improvisational jazz at the Brecon Jazz Festival, I was still waiting for the band to start playing when the rest of the crowd were shouting for an… Cited people : James Taylor  James-Taylor Quartet  Jazz Funk  + vote […]

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