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Greetings from Granada

While I have time, and before it slips from my memory, I´d like to finish talking about the jazz show I saw in Madrid the night before last. After the show I talked briefly with the drummer, a Swiss dude, who told me that the band gets together only on occasion.

The leader, Josexto Goia-Aribe, from Pamplona, is the guy with the vision. On the sax, tenor or soprano, he is a competent soloist, but no Mr. T. His genius lies in his arrangements, and the way he takes the traditional (paso dobles, jota-waltzes, fandagos) and makes it new, I might say giving it a Monk twist ... arrangements for tuba, trombone, trumpet and sax. Speaking of Monk, they played interesting versions of ¨Well You Needn´t¨ and ¨Misterioso¨ alongside such traditional numbers as ¨El toro que se enamora de la luna¨ or a paso doble from the bull ring. I also liked his explanations between tunes and his little jokes. He said that the band´s name, ¨Jamalandruki,¨ was taken from a magician in the Pamplona in the sixties who always fascinated him. One tune was called ¨Nanai de la gutimendi¨ which is something that kids in Pamplona would say to deny a request instead of simply saying ¨no¨:

-¿Me das chocolate? (Can I have some chocolate?)
-Nanai de la gutimendi.

So, I´m back in Granada, the city where I lived during the 1993-1994 school year. I rode a luxury bus down from Madrid: during the four and a half hour ride they sirved drinks, sandwiches, candies, snacks, moist toilettes (¨moist toilets,¨ as my daughter and I say). I saw windmills in La Mancha, and I awoke from dozing to see the dramatic mountains of the Sierra Morena, where don Quixote and Sancho took refuge after freeing the galley slaves. By a quarter to nine I was at my friend Jose Luis´s house in the Albaicin, not far from where I lived seventeen years ago.

A word about the Albaicin: it is the best preserved Arab quarter in all of Spain, a maize of narrow streets, whitewashed houses, ¨carmenes¨(enclosed gardens), small parks, ¨miradores¨ (places from which to look at the Alhambra across the way), bars, restaurants, ¨teterias¨(North African tea shops). I could have happily stayed there back in 1994 had that been an option.

Jose Luis´s and Cati´s house is amazing: not wide, but with three floors, including a terrace on the roof with a magnificent view of the Alhambra. We sat up there, eating and drinking into the night, soaking up the beauty of the place and getting caught up. Jose Luis and I haven´t seen each other for seventeen years, even though we´ve exchanged emails and post cards every once in a while.

Today I had coffee with a couple of my students who are studying here in Granada, then I spent a good while just wandering around, refamiliarizing myself with the city. I went to the market to look at the seafood, the meats and the vegetables; I meandered through the streets of the Albaicin, snapping pictures; I listened to some buskers play gypsy jazz in the style of Django Reinhardt. I went to the Bar Aliatar where I ate small sandwiches: a Mallorquin (sobrasada and melted cheese ... sobrasada is a sort of lard-like substance flavored with paprika), then, greedy, one with artichoke hearts, anchovies and mayonaise. I sat in the San Greogorio church for a few minutes, before being kicked out by a couple of cloistered nuns, who looked like phantoms, dressed in white habits with their faces veiled... and to think there are prostitutes just a few doors down.

And this evening, there will be tapas. We´ll probably start at the bar I´ve been dying to go to - Bodegas Castañeda, where they make their own vermouth and serve Spanish ham, among other treats.

Tomorrow morning, I´ll be on the bus to Cordoba, and by nightfall, I´ll be in Sevilla, if things work out as planned.
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You lucky bum! I wish I was in the Albaicin too sipping on some Moroccan tea! Guess I'll pick some mint from the garden and make some mint tea myself and dream....! Have fun!

April 2019



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