Bob Sands during the ‘Jazz Palacio Real’ concerts, held in Madrid on July 26, 2020.Oscar Gonzalez / Cordon Press

On May 25 at the Reina Victoria Theater in Madrid a tribute concert was held to the saxophonist, director of his own Big Band, clarinetist, flutist, composer and jazz teacher Bob Sands. That meeting was full of emotion and feeling, because Sands was carrying a cancer that today had a devastating result for the jazz community in Spain. The New York interpreter has died at the age of 55. In that appointment they acted with his big band, probably the best army in the country with its “non-negotiable” Francisco López What on double bass and Dani García Bruno on drums, musicians such as Jorge Pardo, Javier Colina, Quique Gómez, Marina Ferrer, Pablo Gutiérrez or Israel Sandoval. It was a sign of the respect and affection that many had for him.

Bob Sands (New York, 1966) arrived in Madrid in 1992. In principle, his destiny was to go to Paris to make his fortune for a couple of years, but luck made his short-lived visit to the city definitive. Sands, like other great references of American jazz settled in Spain – such as the now-defunct Jerry González or Malik Yaqub – gave their music a distinctly Madrid sound, a capacity available to very few musicians and that can only be achieved with tons of personality within. and off stage. Sands hit streets and bars and in recent years resided in the popular Carabanchel neighborhood. His name was on the other interpreters’ agenda. In addition to being a jazz musician, at the controls of his saxophone, Sands also performed for other renowned figures in Spain: Miguel Ríos, Ana Belén, Joan Manuel Serrat and Joaquín Sabina had him highlighted in their agendas as a reliable and extremely professional musician.

Trombonist Steve Armor had written down some of the best stories that ever happened to him in the company of Bob Sands for some time. The idea is that those notes were a funny memory of your friend, that they remain in the memory of those who treated him and especially his family. One of those stories featured one of the great jazz references of all time: Dizzy Gillespie. Armor recounted how on a night that he pointed out as tumultuous and partying with his friend in Florida, they came across a lonely piano. While Bob Sands was trying to get the most out of the instrument, Dizzy Gillespie himself appeared on the scene. “I was speechless, but Bob asked Dizzy to explain the harmonic structure of Dolphin dance by Herbie Hancock “. From there the meeting led to a passionate conversation about music and later on several collaborations together.

Bob Sands was a tall soloist, little known to the general public, but a regular at many live music clubs and festivals. One of them Rare avis foreigners that populate the Spanish geography and feel comfortable in the atmosphere of a racan country with cultural recognition. Sands experienced first-hand the evolution of jazz in Spain, and the meteoric development of many musicians whom he saw grow and whom he helped to progress. In recent years from his position as a teacher at the Higher Center for Music of the Basque Country (Musikene).

Dick Angstadt, owner of the mythical Bogui jazz club that operated in Madrid’s Calle Barquillo between 2005 and 2019 and where Sands was a regular, in addition to being one of the epicenters of his Big Band, remembers how the hundreds of new proposals that arrived Even his living room, many musicians prominently reflected their former Bob Sands alumni. A true sign of guarantee: “Of every five young musicians who wrote or called asking for an opportunity, four had been his students. Bob was a teacher to a lot of people who now have a name in jazz ”.

At the San Isidro mortuary in Madrid, where his body was taken and farewells were held, among students from different eras, musicians, room owners and programmers, comments were crossed between praise for his quality, memories of epic and fun moments anecdotes, although as a close friend remembers from complete admiration: “When the time came for music, he was extremely bastard.”

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