Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival 2016

The 5th annual Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival took place like every year at the Protur Biomar Hotel in Mallorca, Spain over the first weekend in May, featuring a top-notch lineup of smooth jazz players, backed by two local bands of professional players from Germany and England. Smooth jazz fans from all over Europe and the US gathered on this Mediterranean island to have fun, meet like-minded music aficionados and mingle with the artists who stay at the same hotel, often with their spouses. This 5 star hotel provides the perfect setting for this event, with the hotel director being a big supporter of the event.

For the early birds, the festival started already on Tuesday with the gala diner with all the artists and musicians present, plus a concert by the local jazz-funk band Saxophobia Funk Project, followed by excursions and other activities the next days for people wanting to experience the island. This year, a local Bodega was visited, enhanced by a concert of Team Harmony, a sax and harmonica duo from Holland.

Wednesday night, the festival opened officially with the Smooth Jazz Allstars, a great jam session with all artist of the festival together which was held open-air at the unfinished church Església Nova in Son Servera, featuring Gerald Albright, Nathan East, Paul Taylor, Steve Cole, Gerald Veasley, Eric Darius, Gail Jhonson, Nils, Joey Sommerville and more.

Thursday night bassist Gerald Veasley did a well received performance, while saxophonist Eric Darius brought the house down with his high energy playing. After this concert, there was the nightly after show chillout party with DJ Richard Edwards, having people partying till the wee hours.

I joined the festivities a little later on Friday with the show of keyboardist Gail Jhonson doing her own music, mainly featuring material from her last two albums Her Story and New Beginnings, with special guest Steve Cole on sax, followed by saxophonist extraordinaire Gerald Albright, who was vowing the crowd with his flawless playing and tight show. A funny thing happened when the Soul Train line he initiated ended up right on the stage, having Gerald jump onto the occasion, inviting everybody to get up on the stage and dance.

Saturday provided four shows, two in the afternoon and two in the evening. Saxophonist Steve Cole kicked it off in style with his soulful playing, being a crowd favorite, his song "Curtis" gave me goosebumps. Next were Peet Project from Hungary, a great band of young players led by violinist Péter Ferencz delivering an upbeat show with lots of catchy songs, entertaining us to the fullest. After the dinner break, world class bassist Nathan East, supported by keyboardist Gail Jhonson who served as musical director, performed material from his current solo release plus a few well selected covers, especially memorable was his rendition of Stevie's "Overjoyed", featuring the sweet sax of Paul Taylor. This was a very sophisticated and varied set. After that, trumpet player Joey Sommerville wrapped up the night with a funky show of instrumentals and vocals as well, he was supported by the great local saxophonist Ramon Miguel, who provided several outstanding solos.

Sunday, the festival came to a close with the shows of saxophonist Paul Taylor, mesmerizing the crowd with his beautiful playing on the alto and soprano saxophones, drawing from his vast catalog, before guitarist Nils provided the last concert, doing material from his current release Alley Cat, plus some of his biggest hits, Paul Taylor guested on two tracks. As an encore, he played a beautiful rendition of "Europa", which ended the festival in style.

Once again, this edition of the Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival was a memorable experience with many exciting musical moments, enjoyable time with friends and artists, and some relaxation in the facilities of the hotel. Mark your calendar for next year's Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival which will take place over the first weekend in May 2017.