By Emily Batty

GIBRALTAR’S International Jazz Festival – the first of its kind ever on the Rock – was a massive success.

And the good news is that saxophonist Dan Moretti and vibraphonist  Arturo  Serra have already told the Olive Press they would like to return next year.

As a jazz novice, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this the three-day music bonanza held at the centrally located Casemates Square on June 28, 29 and 30.

But I soon found myself instantly mesmerised and drawn in by the sound and artistic vision of the artists.

The skill and sweet harmonising of the instruments, which soared through smooth and energetic rhythm sections, was nothing short of exceptional.

A behind-the-scenes chat with Dan Moretti revealed he had never before played with any of the artists on stage – which came as a great surprise, given the harmonious combination of each individual’s sounds and style.

It was as though they had played together hundreds of times before.

Moretti has played saxophone since he was ‘a wee child’ – or 12 years old to be exact – he jovially explains.

The American music professor said he found the people of Gibraltar ‘friendly’, and would like to return to play here next year.

Gibraltar-born Elie Massias also wowed the audience when he took to the stage at his birthplace.

He played multiple instruments on stage and switched between them with such sophistication that he – as all the greats manage to – made it look easy.

He interjected the instrumental jazz with vocals (some scat singing), played guitar, soprano saxophone and the piano.

For me, it was his voice and zealous energy that was the highlight of the night. Now based in New York, he doesn’t forget an old face.

At one point he called out ‘hello’ to Mr Ceresi, his old school teacher from decades ago, who stood watching the festival at the front of the crowd.

On the ‘vibes’ was Arturo Serra born in Valencia, the current professor at Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra.

While his favourite place in the world to play is the US, his ideal scenario would be to do yearly tours, dividing his time between the
European ‘triangle’ of France, Italy and Spain.

Artists under the Blue Note Record label have inspired him most, and the likes of the vibraphonist Gary Burton, he tells the Olive Press.

After the concert, the public was invited to attend more jazz sessions in the basement of the Eliott’s Hotel.

The Gibraltar Jazz Society meets here every Thursday, with a performance by the ‘George Posso Trio’ and it features fellow musicians and guest artists.

Over the past decade many musicians from all over the world have taken part.

The society aims to promote jazz, and encourages the attendance of those interested in learning to play.

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