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report by Norman Warwick

The car park outside the ground was full and the surrounding streets were jam-packed, only ten minutes before kick off, partly because so many drivers were attempting to squeeze their Range Rovers in to spaces along the kerb that would not have accommodated an electric scooter. We followed sidetracks and detours out in the field and managed to park, but had to run, well, walk briskly, to get into the ground before the ref blew his whistle to start the game. This was my first return to the Yaiza ground (left) since my pre-covid days of holding a season ticket at the club. Simultaneously for three years I also held a season ticket for UD Lanzarote !

On the evening of 20th January 2024 the two teams were playing a local derby league match made even more appetising than usual because the two teams at kick off stood level on number of games played, level on points and level even on goal difference. That they sat third and fourth in their league lent tension to a match that was vital to both teams  in their chase of a promotion place. There were thousands of fans in the stadium as we stepped inside, horns were blaring and percussive instruments were being pounded.

The teams lined up for the kick off in their familiar kits; Yaiza in Robin Hood green and UD in the red and blue that is a reminder of Barcelona, even if there are no other similarities between the two.

With sun already low in the sky, the floodlights were beginning to cast eerie shadows on the face of the nearby mountain and we arrived behind the goal at the Yaiza end with the team attacking in our direction. What we witnessed was a very physical first half, with some crunching tackles and no lack of energy. However it all seemed to happen in the middle third of the pitch, with a very imprssive, tall centre back for UD heading and kicking away every poor cross so that at half time there was no score.

Darkness had fallen, and a warm sunny day had surrendered to a cold, windy night. My wife and I were freezing but stood like statues, or snowmen perhaps, to eat sandwiches of cheese in brown bed and a packet of crisps and a can of Fanta orange between us. So dejected were we that it must have shown on our faces and when the linesman came over to inspect the nets before the second half started, he leaned over the perimeter fencing to confirm to my wife that she looked cold !

There was nothing much to cheer us up in the second half, though I was impressed by the coolness and authority of Yaiza´s keeper in organising his defenders, There were also a couple of smallish and seemingly young Yaiza wingers who never quite delivered crosses at the end of their speedy dribbling, and so the match petered out in draw.

Five minutes before the final whistle, as some of the crowd had already started to leave, there was a noticeable police presence. Draws don´t tend to ignite fighting: everybody is too fed up to bother. No, the role of the police on this occasion was more one of shouting ´Move along. Nothing has happened here. There´s nothing to see here.´

How right they were.

We made our way to the exit to ensure we could be among the first few people out at the final whistle and reached our car in time to slip out on to the interior roads of Yaiza town and take a two mile circuitous route to avoid the traffic and reach the Casa de la Culture, actually only a hundred yards away from the football ground !

The concert, that was to begin at 8.30 pm and that was the main objective of our journey to Yaiza, was still an hour away, we knew this FREE concert  would be worth queuing in the frio for forty five minutes to ensure we would be among the hundred people admitted before theatre full signs were put up. However, as we took the fifty yard walk to the entrance we saw the doors were open already and that the ´theatre´ was already half full. So, we simply strolled in, took two seats still left on the front row  and waited in the warmth, reading our Kindles.

The venue was full to standing room only when the three musicians walked casually on to the stage where the speakers, mics and a big double bass awaited them. However, they could not slip on un-noticed and there was a massive burst of welcoming applause for the three musicians.

That big double-bass was the dance partner of Javier Colina and for the rest of the evening he pulled gently at her heart-strings and she was putty in his hands. We introduced Javier Colina in our Sidetracks And Detours pages yesterday, but at this stage he was the only one of  this trio we had never heard play before.

We had read on line only recently that, like his colleagues here, Alexis Lemis and Javier Infante, the bass player was a fine solo instrumentalist with huge reputation  as a leading player on his chosen instrument were here in the Casa de la Culture  to present Guiguan, their first album,

Javier Colina (Pamplona, 1960) is one of the most prestigious international jazz (and flamenco) double bass players. The list of musicians with whom he has collaborated is endless and impressive. For example, George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Jerry González, Toumani Diabaté, Compay Segundo, Carlos Núñez, Carmen Linares, Enrique Morente, Tomatito or Juan Perro… or Bebo Valdés and Diego El Cigala, with whom he played in the legendary Lágrimas negras. Now he has released, together with the Valencian pianist Albert Sanz, Rodizio musical, an album of versions of Brazilian music recorded live on two consecutive nights at the Recoletos Jazz Madrid, the club located in the basement of the AC Hotel Recoletos, and in which he also ended up participating personalities such as Silvia Pérez Cruz, Josemi Carmona, Antonio Serrano and Israel Suárez “Piraña”

Alexis Lemis, perhaps more than anyone else, perpetuates the legacy of the timple, a small, ukulele-like instrument that can hold its own in any raggedy jam-session as well as in more structured concert performances and recording sessions with strings and brass and percussion. The ability of Lemis to switch easily in and out of a flailing technique, much like the great American banjo players, or to finger pick as delicately as, let´s say, bluegrass players like Bela Fleck  helps make his instrument fit for purpose in any genre.. I wrote in a previous piece in my daily blog of Sidetracks And Detours that ´the future of this instrument and the continued variety of the sounds it can produce are safe in the hands of this expert musician as he mingles and mentors and mystifies players and audiences alike with his intricate and soulful playing.´

Javier Infante, one of the most loved musicians on the island, is influenced by roots music, jazz and some components of European classical music. In 2016, his album Solo Session was nominated for best Jazz album at the Independent Music Awards in Spain.

You will notice that the love of their instrument and the willingness to play at the drop of a hat in almost any genre means that these artists ´grow´ the public awareness of their instruments and their musical past, present and future at every performance.

They achieved all that and more, this evening, as they played tracks off the aforementioned Guiguan album.

What was noticeable throughout the concert was their very obvious admiration each had for the playing of the others. Colina often leaned intently on his double bass when not playing to see as closely as possible the incredible dexterity of his colleague. When he took over for solo passages, however, or joined in the ensemble he showed a few tricks of his own and demonstrated a lovely empathy with the other two, Lemis and Infante. 

The music was perfectly layered so that even when being played at the same time the sounds of each instrument was clearly defined. Often, whenever any one of the instruments led the way the others would wander off on journeys of discovery without ever getting lost. It was all seamless and beautiful and sounded to be both ancient and modern as one !

The man on the double bass had some of the flair of a rock musician, with nuances of performance that could have been seen in the work of Joe Mauldin, the double bass player and songwriter in Buddy Holly´s crickets.

Infante played all evening with a beatific smile on his face and frequently beamed out his joy in the musicality of his colleagues.

My all time favourite string band was Bogan, Martin, Armstrong as referenced on The Ballad of Carl Martin by Steve Goodman, Colina, Lemis and Infante had a similar ring and the album will be on my playlists by the time this goes to print.

If you´ll pardon the pun I should say that double bass master-craftsman, Javier Colina, showed us  he had another string to his bow beside the one with which he tickled the fat belly of his instrument. At a couple of points in the evening he also played piano accordion, somehow adding to the echoes of Tex-Mex music I fancied I was hearing. 

The standing ovation was richly deserved. Whoever funded this gig perfectly placed three marvellous musicians to play, as a trio, music from their debut album, at a perfect venue, in front of a knowledgeable and appreciative audience.

Watch this space over the next couple of weeks for a review of the album from which tonight´s selection was taken.


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