There is not much offer of concerts on January 2 in Madrid, day still hangover for national musicians and holidays for the international parish. But fans with withdrawal symptoms have been left for decades with the option of the non-combustible Pedro Iturralde, that at 89 years and a half was punctually planned in the Galileo Galilei room to offer, as if that, hour and a half of his proverbial teaching. And so it will remain as long as fuel remains in the tank. "Sometimes I feel tired and I feel that I will have to finish leaving," murmurs the Navarrese saxophonist and clarinetist (Falces, 1929) when he will celebrate seven decades of indefatigable service. Do not take it too literally. As soon as the lights go out, he behaves like the restless and unconditionally music lover of all time.
Iturralde admits that Christmas is choking a bit. "I get, I do not know, something of morriña", recognizes by the bajini, not very friend of the confessional tone. "I have worked very hard all this long life, but at the cost of neglecting the personal part. And at this time, childhood, family, and people come to mind. I enviudé of my first wife and I have failed to fulfill the biblical commandment: grow and multiply. "
The teacher knows himself in the winter of the days, but he deludes him that coming July 3, in which he will fulfill the dream of reaching ninety years. He will pronounce then, as in all the moments indicated, that Prayer for the Supreme Maker that he himself conceived to thank the heights for the happy life that was granted to him. "I ask the Creator to give me the light, the warmth, the life and the energy, that love and some wisdom give me. To forgive my mistakes and save me from all evil, "he says. And clarify, for what it says: "Because I have not been very practicing, but a good Christian."
Wisdom? Pedro Iturralde was, with Tete Montoliú, the great pioneer and dynamiser of jazz in Spain, and among his unquestionable merits are the early development of flamenco jazz (his 1968 self-titled album for Hispavox, together with Paco de Lucía, is pure history) and to have held the first chair of saxophone that the Royal Conservatory of Madrid knew. "But the more you learn, the less you know," he warns with the lucidity of someone who has traveled a long way. "And it discourages me to realize how many are still the things I do not know."
He confesses without shame, little learned in politics. "I had to live a time, the Franco regime, in which this topic could not be mentioned. For that reason I did not bother to learn anything about it and I preferred to dedicate myself to music. Always music. " Now struggles to keep abreast of current affairs, but sometimes it seems too complex. And that frustrates him. "I do not clarify well and that difficulty ends up influencing my mood. I would like to understand things better. I feel sympathy for this young boy, what's his name … Albert Rivera! Speak clearly and I think it's beautiful what he expresses, but I lose myself in everything else. "
Lucidity does not leave him, however, when he recreates one more night Gershwin, Ellington, Artie Shaw, Rodrigo or Turina with his everlasting sax, given to fingers that retain, by some prodigious spell, almost all the agility of the young years . "The saxophone was taught to us by clarinet teachers, who always looked at us a little over the shoulder. They repeated that theirs was a nobler instrument, with two more centuries of history. But I had learned to play both in the band … " Because it had been there, in the municipal band of Falces, where everything began. "My grandfather Perico built a water mill on the banks of the Arga River and my father continued to exploit it, but it was handled with the requinto, the lute and the guitar. And he had the success of pointing out music to my brothers Javier and Manuel as well as to me. "
Little Pedro, who at the age of five had overcome a bronchopneumonia, began to function at the top of his lungs. "I left home for the first time at 18, with a Catalan orchestra, and then I turned to Oran, Casablanca, Algiers, Tangier, Tunisia … When I returned to Navarre, so they would not declare me a fugitive from the military, I was already a demon improvising alone and for the people shouting: 'Let the miller's son touch, let him touch the miller's son!'
His brother Manuel continues to reside in his native town, where Pedro recently sent him his best alto saxophone, with a silver bath, "so that he can look and show it off". Javier, twin of Manuel, came to compose sacred music, but he died too soon. And Pedro Iturralde Ochoa, that right eye of the miller, still preserves the living flame and intact love for the classics. Make sure that you try to stay abreast of pop and artistic novelties, but miss better lyricists. "Before, popular music was nourished by poets and now young people are sometimes satisfied with mere rhymes. Anyone who listens carefully to the copla or the songs of Duke Ellington will realize that they not only contributed musical value, but literary ". And he says goodbye with a confession. "You know, I think I could have been a good singer too. In France, I was strongly urged to start a career as a vocalist and I thought: I studied too much clarinet and saxophone to waste it. But now I think that with a good manager of those yes that could have thrown to me ".