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La Vitti

5 Minutes from the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia is a small unassuming bar called La Vitti. Wallpaper made of album covers, 60s chic furniture and a stage that could be mistaken for a step. It’s loud, buzzy and nonchalant; yeah, you’ve probably never seen a place like this before but hurry up and order your drink you’ve not got all day. On ordering, as a typical British man I know one language and that is the queens, despite my forays into multiple European languages I’d be hard pressed to keep a conversation going past hello and how are you – a thin smile and polite nod suffices after that. However, in my panic due to the lack of queue and every inch of the bar having someone sat in front of it I spat out some broken Spanish I’d picked up from listening to others and ordered not just one cerveza (check me out) but 2 … different beers … and a bowl of peanuts (which, hilariously, I’m allergic to). Anyway, the show is starting and it’s a Monday night which means the next couple of hours will be filled with jazz, improv and speeches in Spanish that everyone laughs at whilst I nervously laugh along knowing absolutely nothing that is being said.

Carlos Medina is sat alone with a silent crowd in front of him as he begins slowly, gently building atmosphere and there’s a palpable excitement in the room. The thought I may have stumbled upon something that I don’t quite understand is there but it’s music at the end of the day; nothing transcends language or culture like it (cringe). The song ends; the room erupts into applause, hollering, laughter and chat. Only for 30 seconds though and whilst the crowd has been busy letting out their drunk thoughts to one another, Ales Cesarini and Mariano Steimberg join Carlos to form the trio for the night. Now with bass and drums there’s no time for slow building of atmosphere for the next hour straight we are treated to solos from Ales, Mariano and Carlos handing the baton to each other with a sly side eye. The first hour finishes and at this point I thought the whole thing was done ready to leave content I turn around to see a tray of Spanish omelette and croquetas waiting at the bar. Fascinated by the random appearance of bar snacks I ordered a slice and immediately ask the bar owner who made this (he’s a skinny moustache-ed Spanish man who wouldn’t look out of place at an afters in Dalston talking some poor woman’s ear off about the prominence of the age of 17 in music) we laugh and leave it at definitely not him, but seriously I’m going back to find out one day because it may have been one of the best things I’d put in my mouth (cheeky).

Before I know it, it’s been 30 minutes my hard on from the omelette has dissipated and people are getting back on the stage. Confused but excited, I stand to the side for a better view of the stage and low and behold that was only the intermission! There’s a woman stood next to the stage and a man called Chris (or something like that I’d had a few beers at this point) keeps being called for but is unmoved from his seat. Instead, a young guitarist gets up sits down plugs in and just starts playing The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. I know what you’re thinking … is this a year 9 talent show? And I thought the same I’d been told your man goes to Berkeley (or something like that, again dumb Brit). Just as I was starting to feel I’d been run a muck the bass, the drums take the cover in a direction like if The White Stripes had met in Ronnie Scotts. Oh, and that woman turns out she’s a pretty good singer, like I’m talking French jazz club vibes. Normality is resumed as the band reunite joined by another woman, great jazz music continues with an amazing Spanish vocal addition.

As people filter out, I turn around and decide I’ll order another beer since every time I order I seem to get given back more money than I left with. I start talking with the owner about just how special this bar seems to be. Simultaneously loud and vibrant but quiet and serious where people come to have fun and chill but are also focussed on hearing and experiencing great Jazz music. To some the silence of a jazz gig can seem intense and even snobbish at points but here that seemed to go, everyone whether it was their first time visiting or not got the memo, come and have fun but don’t let this opportunity to experience something special pass you by.

I finished my beer as the owner turned his playlist back on and out came lovers rock (a form of Reggae which came to prominence in London in the 1970s). Out of curiosity as to how this Spanish man had discovered a form of Reggae I found to be rare amongst even young Caribbeans I asked him about it and how much he knew. It is truly amazing how far music can travel (I’m throwing up in my mouth as I write this, I’m so sorry). I couldn’t resist but to leave him with some recommendations of who to listen to next in his exploration of the genre. I left walking out into the streets of Valencia with a full heart and a very drunk brain.

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