By Giles Tremlett
The Guardian Wednesday 9 December 2009
Jazzman Larry Ochs has seen many things during 40 years playing his saxophone around the world but, until this week, nobody had ever called the police on him.
That changed on Monday night however, when's Spain's pistol-carrying Civil Guard police force descended on the Sigüenza Jazz festival to investigate allegations that Ochs's music was not, well, jazz.
Police decided to investigate after an angry jazz buff complained that the Larry Ochs Sax and Drumming Core group was on the wrong side of a line dividing jazz from contemporary music.
The jazz purist claimed his doctor had warned it was "psychologically inadvisable" for him to listen to anything that could be mistaken for mere contemporary music.
According to a report in El País newspaper yesterday, the khaki-clad police officers listened to the saxophone-playing and drumming coming from the festival stage before agreeing that the purist might, indeed, have a case.
His complaint against the organisers, who refused to return his money, was duly registered and will be passed on to a judge.
"The gentleman said this was not jazz and that he wanted his money back," said the festival director, Ricardo Checa.
"He didn't get his money. After all, he knew exactly what group he was going to see, as their names were on the festival programme.
He added: "The question of what constitutes jazz and what does not is obviously a subjective one, but not everything is New Orleans funeral music.
"Larry Ochs plays contemporary, creative jazz. He is a fine musician and very well-renowned."
"I thought I had seen it all," Ochs, who reportedly suffered a momentary identity crisis, told El País. "I was obviously mistaken."
"After this I will at least have a story to tell my grandchildren," the California-based saxophonist added.