During last year’s edition we were able to congratulate and acknowledge each other as true “survivors” along with Gloria Gaynor… unfortunately, this year, due to personal reasons, last night we only managed to make it to the closure of the Jazzaldia and bid farewell to this edition with Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya + Terence Blanchard y Gregory Porter  on stage in Plaza de la Trinidad. … at least we managed to be present, and what a perfect ending.

When leaving the square, with beers and such an informal and late dinner, there was agreement about how perfect the stage was, the special acoustics, the beautiful lighting on the walls of the Basilica and mount Urgull, and a few questions were raised… how long have we been coming to these events for?

The date was etched on my memory without being very aware of it, so… “Since 1986!”, I claimed, with what the rest of the group thought was undue confidence. “Yeah, right… That’s 31 years!”

Well, yes – exactly 31 years… My friends have many virtues, I’d defend any of them against the slightest attack, but they continue with that childish resistance to accept that time marches on. 31 years ago, after an 8-year break, jazz returned to this emblematic stage. It was then, in July 1986, when I visited this square for the first time.

Many people probably remember that edition, because it meant, among other great performances, the return of Miles Davis to the city, though I must confess that the reason for such an indelible memory is more prosaic and mundane… the image chosen for the poster of that long-gone edition.

That poster showed us one of the characters who had become a family member for so many children of both my generation and of previous ones… The pose was surprising, with that trumpet in his hands and the backrest of the seat, but there was “Negrito Panchito”.

According to legend, this character travelled from Sao Paulo (Brazil) to San Sebastian in 1910. First-hand witnesses directly involved in his journey also say that Panchito had a brother, but that he was broken into a thousand pieces in an unfortunate accident… Whatever the case, Panchito sat down in number 9 of Garibay street, in Casa Paulista, the grocery store run by brothers Luis and Alfonso Eguía. There, among the most diverse variety of food products, our man placed his chair in one of the two shop windows flanking the store… And he straddled it, carelessly resting his hands on its backrest. At his feet were the different types of coffee in small baskets, from exotic and dreamy origins, that the family business offered its select customers.

Throughout this past century the business continued, specialised in toasting coffee with Casa Paulista in 1914, was handed down from parents to children, diversified, temporarily changed location, returned to Plaza de Guipuzcoa in 2005 under a new “take away” concept and today can be proud to belong to the distinguished club of centenary shops in San Sebastian. During all this time, Panchito was always there… Well, he probably had to be repaired and repainted a few times, but he’s still there with his eternal smile, sitting on a chair with his unconcerned pose, and inviting all the children who pass by to stop in front of the shop window… during those 100 long years, “Panchito” was only surprisingly absent from the shop window for one week during the summer, and could be seen on each corner of the city stroking his trumpet.

It was a summer 31 years ago.



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