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Fiestas & traditions
Great stars of jazz
The Jazz Festival in Donostia-San Sebastian
Now the Jazz Festival consists not only of concerts, but also of music in the streets, contests for Basque and international amateur groups, conferences, film screenings and various music workshops.
Its beginning dates from September 1966. A group of people keen on this music genre proposed to the "Centro de Atracción y Turismo" (Donostia-San Sebastian Tourist Office) to hold a festival similar to that which had been holding in Nice for a few years.
That first event set a standard for the future: along with chief professional figures, an international amateur contest was organised. The budget was of 200,000 pesetas. And the stage was located in Trinidad Square, in the old opart of Donostia-San Sebastian.
The audience responded to the programmes filling the square every year as professional musicians played. It is difficult to forget the charm of those concerts in the summer nights: the music of Milt Buckner, Buddy Tate, Menfis Slim mixed with the buzz of the people strolling in the old part. The bells of the clock of Santa Maria followed the rhythm at the right time. Going to Trinidad Square was a feast where the setting itself became a pleasure: the audience, the square surrounded by the old stones of Santa Maria and San Telmo and the sky above
Because of the success, the stage had to be changed. The concerts were moved first to the sports centre in 1974 and then to the cycle track. There was more room for the audience and the festival did not depend on the weather anymore. The audience became bigger and bigger and as a result of this, better figures could be brought.
Charles Mingus, Tete Montoliu, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gilliespie, Herbie Hancock, Lionel Hampton, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Rollins, B.B. King, Woody Herman, Freddy Hubbard, Weather Report, Gato Barbieri, Art Blakey, Mercer Ellington, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Clark Terry, Milles Davies and many other famous artists played in the festival in several occasions during those years. Thanks to them San Sebastian Festival became the most attended in the world. For the response of the audience was amazing, with thirteen thousand people listening to Gato Barbieri or Chick Corea while in London or Montreaux they did not go beyond 4,000.
The cultural aspect has also been developed during this growth period. Now the Jazz Festival consists not only of concerts, but also of music in the streets, contests for Basque and international amateur groups, conferences, film screenings and various music workshops.
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