Monday 13 November 2017

Remembrance Day, Jazz and Sex

It was quite apposite, I thought as I walked away from the venue, that this concert was staged on Remembrance Day. Earlier on, just a stone’s throw from the theatre, I had watched the oldest procession in the country as part of the Annual Lord Mayor’s Parade.

If Remembrance Day is about acknowledging the sacrifices made by the fallen and injured to secure peace, what better way to honour them than through music? In my opinion, the most universal of all the art forms and the one that gives us the succour we need in our darkest hours.

That was exactly what Chucho Valdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba served to a musically-hungry audience at the Barbican as part of the London Jazz Festival. Two world-strutting behemoths with a Grammy collection that would be the envy of any well-established pianist, this was probably one of the must-see shows of the ten-day event. On the one hand, seventy-six-year-old Chucho, a pioneer and trailblazer of modern Cuban jazz, who with his band Irakere not only broke the mould of what Latin jazz was supposed to sound like, but also created new rules along the way. On the other hand, smaller in stature, but definitely not in craft, virtuoso Rubalcaba, who redefined jazz for a late 80s, 90s both Cuban and international audience.

The two masters together

In addition to all this, the experience, at least to me, of watching these two colossi was akin to what I could only describe as an aural orgasm. Yes, this post is certainly X-rated, my dears, so do not let your little ones read it (smiley, with a wink). By the way, all puns are intended. Yep, it is that kind of post.

Where to start? Maybe with the teasing, long, foreplay-like meditation at the beginning. It was as sensuous as it was deft. Delicate notes, exploring, probing, feeling. It was Rubalcaba who broke away first, his Steinway gathering pace as a patient and calm Valdés kept back and watched.

What followed thereafter can only be described with the language of love, or sex, if you prefer. There were sprints and sudden stops, polyphonic dialogues the two masters lunged at and percussive, quick-fire, repetitive tapping. A Cuban montuno became a climax-inducing piece. A “zapateo” was given a full big band revamp… minus the big band. The sound was big, all-encompassing. I looked both to my left and to my right. I saw plenty of open mouths and eyes, bobbing heads and shaking shoulders. Those twenty fingers on stage, eliciting occasional gasps and sighs in the audience, every time they travelled up and down the ivories and hit the desired spot. Would we have been down on the aisles grooving it had the concert not been at 2:30pm? You bet.

And just when you thought the concert was over, the encore came. Even the ”Duke” would have approved of Chucho and Gonzalo’s take on Caravan. It was full of razzmatazz and panache. The final stage of copulation and the post-coital ciggie all at once (I threw the latter in for good measure, I don’t smoke. But I’m feeling generous.). A tumbao-heavy version with a thirty- or forty-second Manteca riff halfway through. This was not a battle, in the same way sex should never be one. This was collaboration, banter, care, tenderness, playfulness, a bit of rough and calmness (at the end). My only gripe? Where was my second part? Where was the interval and follow-up? Because as many of us know, when it comes to sex, sorry, music, second parts tend to be as good as, if not better than the first ones.

© 2017


  1. Smiling. And so very sorry that you didn't get an encore.

  2. Well you've certainly seduced me with this post! I'm sure it was a wonderful concert.

    I still think one of the sexiest songs I've ever heard is Gato Barbieri's version of Europa.

  3. lol sure need that second act when it comes to sex.

  4. is the language of peace.

  5. I would guess you enjoyed yourself.

  6. I'm grinning from ear to ear for the first time today and wishing I could have been there...Best to you!

  7. This sounds like a wonderful event.

  8. Sounds like you really enjoyed the concert:)

  9. Sounds like quite a show. I know precious little about Latin jazz so I do thank you for introducing me to these two artists. And thanks for the sizzling prose!

  10. I think you gave a whole new meaning to Remembrance Day, CiL .... Veterans Day over here in the USA.

    I guess I am pretty much of a traditionalist, but from this day forward I will add your concert to things associated with the holiday.

  11. Two Instrument interest me in learning to play is Piano and the harp...Coffee is on

  12. Hi ACIL - wonderful description of your day ... so much life to be read about ... thank you - delightful ... cheers Hilary

  13. That's my kind of concert! :-)

  14. Oh Wow, Wow! Loved your take on the concert (wink) and I am now wishing I could have had the privilege of attending.

  15. Now that was some post!
    I´m still smiling sheepishly.

  16. What a special event! Glad to hear it was good for you! :)

  17. Wow, what a day! Sounds like you had an awesome day!

  18. Whew! After reading this post, I have the inexplicable urge to light up a cigarette...

    Terrific post. For me, my favorite music is always experienced in a sensuous way. I feel a little sorry for people who only hear it with their ears. That's like sex without the emotion.

  19. If they come here... I would like to go to their concert! Just for the music! : ))

  20. OMG, Chucho! You are forgiven for all of your Scorpio sex refrence, totally called for here. And the Duke most certainly would have approved. Azucar!

  21. Oh I SO wish I had been there!! LOL...definitely sounds like my kind of music!!! WOW!!!!

    And Here's Wishing You a Fabulous Birthday...:))

  22. Music is uplifting source for giving tribute and honouring heros

  23. Music is universal and a great way to pay tribute to the people who suffered through the wars whether they fought in it or were civilians and affected by it. I cam over from Sandra's blog:)

  24. Hi, just came over from Sandra's blog!
    The London Jazz Festival sounds a wonderful event and I loved the picture of the two masters together.

    All the best Jan

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