The Jazzaldia festival vibrates with Joan Baez and Jamie Cullum

All festivals in Spain have lived a year of turbulence or low pressures. Attendance figures have suffered, because world tours were scarce and all have registered a lower average attendance than their stories dictated. None has been spared, although weathering the storm is already pretty good news. In Heineken Jazzaldia they know well what atmospheric pressure is. The first jazz event in the history of Spain celebrates its 54th edition, looking at the sky that has partly dazzled the event, but the sun has risen through the dense clouds of the Bay of San Sebastian. The first day of this edition, starring Joan Baez and Jaimie Cullum's spectacular concerts broke the event attendance records with 106,000 people between paid and free concerts. After a bright afternoon with Joe Jackson and a somewhat colder night on the green stage of Heineken with Zahara and Dorian and the pass through the water of Neneh Cherry, the festival was preparing for the grand finale with the presence of Diana Krall and the locals Belako among an endless program. By the way, Woody Allen, who records film in the capital of Gipuzkoa and is a jazz musician, had asked for tickets to see Diana Krall. Many were looking for him under the raincoats.

“The weather has an influence on all the festivals, that is evident, but they are many years of experience. The concerts continue, we have canceled only three of the more than a hundred scheduled, ”explains Miguel Martín, director of Jazzaldia, who remembered the history of a pioneer event. The Festival was born in the Plaza de la Trinidad as something small and has become the only one that has had constant management until today. In the 70s and 80s, it grew to 15,000 people and in 1988 the model was rethought: it began to be held at the San Sebastián velodrome with a rather poor sound. In the 92, with the ascent to the mayor's office of Odón Elorza, it is decided that we must return to the origin: to the Plaza de la Trinidad, but expanding beyond, through all the streets of San Sebastián. And so on until reaching the 2019 edition with 112 concerts, 17 stages, and a distribution through the city center that guarantees music from 11:30 to 1:30 in the morning.

Further, Jazzaldia has a different concept, the gratuity of the main artists of the event in times in which these contests are industry, benefit, competition. “That has to do with a decision to bring the festival to the public, to bring jazz music to the citizen and try to give credibility to a festival that seeks to be close to the public. Do not believe that it is not difficult for me to decide that Jaimie Cullum or Jon Baez, who have a high cache, go to an environment in which the only return is going to be the sale of bars. Taking into account, in addition, that it is not a closed festival, that there is no fence around because the beach, by law, we cannot limit it ”, explains Martín a question of principles. “In some way we would not have credibility with the public if we put the high impact payment actions. There have to be known names for all generations. Because, we have brought figures that, jazzy, perhaps have no justification, such as B.B. King, Patti Smith or Ray Davies, which are intergenerational. It is a matter of popular music ”, finish.

In any case, although the big names may be more striking, Martín clarifies that “If you take away concerts that are not jazz, you still have 90 performances. What happens that sometimes Joan Baez or Neneh Cherry eat the posters, but in numbers they are not so important. ” There is another factor. Getting the beach has cost a lot because in this city you have to understand the idiosyncrasy. The beaches are not to play dumb. “Here you go to the beaches with a towel, a bronzer and in search of absolute tranquility, you don't understand commercial actions, and in San Sebastián we almost looked over the shoulder at the family of the cakes and camping to spend the day. We go stately, with what fits in our pocket. I don't sympathize with someone who starts talking on the cell phone, ”jokes the director of Jazzaldia.

In 1999 they conquered Zurriola beach, next to the newly opened Kursaal. “We put on very jazz performances and we realized that we had to open our hands. And we did it through a person from Heineken who worked closely with us. ”. That is, the sponsor, to some extent, shaped the festival. “Heineken helped us in many things, but his bet was decisive because it allowed a strong investment. And we did it, ”he says. However, attendance at paid concerts is mostly from outside the city. Up to 60 percent of tickets are bought by visitors. The proportion is the reverse in the case of free events, so there is some balance.

And is that Jazzaldia's fame is justified by its tradition. They have been through their tables since James brown ("It was the most intense and difficult experience to believe because it came with an entourage worthy of a blacksploitation movie"), Miles Davies, three times and Keith Jarret in four. "TO Van morrison He loved the Maria Cristina Hotel, but then he decided that he loved money more - well known - and tripled his cache and has never come again, but has been six times. ”

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