Jazz comes to Gibraltar from 20 - 25 October (Getty)
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Watch: Jazz comes to Gibraltar

Bebop on the Rock: performers at the upcoming Gibraltar Jazz Festival (20 – 25 October) share their favourite artists, albums and tracks of all time

George Posso, president of the Gibraltar Jazz Society

“What’s the history of the Gibraltar Jazz Society, and who’s your favourite jazz artist?”

The first Jazz Appreciation Society was formed in 1998 by Paul Riley, Dennis Mander and Liz Carr to promote jazz in Gibraltar and I was assigned to organise jazz nights. I started getting musicians together and organising a weekly jazz night. By 2000 I had formed the Gibraltar Jazz Society and started jazz nights at the O'Callaghan Eliott Hotel every Thursday. I also started hosting jazz workshops in secondary schools.

I have now been organising the Gibraltar Jazz festival in conjunction with the Gibraltar Ministry of Culture since 2012. This year’s festival it our third. The jazz workshops provided during the jazz festivals have generated a lot of interest amongst young music students, and have even resulted in one local school student going off to Berklee College of Music in Boston to further his musical education in jazz.

I have kept the weekly jazz sessions going at the O'Callaghan Eliott Hotel now for almost 15 years and with the addition of the yearly festival with expect the interest for jazz to keep growing.

My favourite artists? It's late and I'm lost for words, but I can say that amongst my many favourites Eliane Elias is definitely top of the list along with Marc Johnson, who has been a great influence on many upright bassists and formed part of the Bill Evans Trio, along with Randy Brecker's distinctive horn sounds and groove and immense background with the Brecker Brothers. What could be better than having these three greats for our third Gibraltar International Jazz Festival?


Eliane Elias, pianist, singer and songwriter

“Favourite jazz album?”

I have been asked this question dozens of times and my answer has always been the same. There are way too many for me. One of my favourite albums is “Seven Steps to Heaven” by Miles Davis, and one of my favourite tracks is “Maxine” on Bill Evans' album “New Conversations”.

Randy Brecker, trumpet and flugelhornist 

“Favourite jazz track?”

My favourite jazz track of all time is my own track “Some Skunk Funk”, recorded on The Brecker Brothers Band's first record in 1975. It's also featured on our album “Heavy Metal Bebop”, a best-selling record which recently won a JazzPoll in Japan as the best horn record of all time. There are over 4,000 versions of this song on YouTube, and it's a kick every time we play it live and watch the audience's reaction when we start playing it. Sorry, but I'm my biggest fan!


Craig Philbin, band leader of the Soulmates

“Favourite jazz album?”

My favourite jazz album of all time would have to be the GRP All-Star Big Band live in concert. Every member of the band are exceptional solo artists in their own right and together they make what has to be the greatest big band of all time. Two tracks that really stand out for me are “Cherokee” and “S'wonderful”. George and Ira Gershwin's much loved tune “S'wonderful” is performed on two pianos by Dave Grusin and Russell Ferrante. The interplay between them is simply amazing and well worth a listen. 

Ray Noble's classic composition “Cherokee” is played by the trumpet section featuring some awesome trade-offs between Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker, Byron Stripling and Chuck Findley - who between them deliver a master class in jazz improvisation. Sandoval utilises his trademark screaming upper register, hitting notes that trumpet players across the world can only ever dream of. Being a trumpet player myself, I never tire of listening to this track and I can't wait to meet the legend that is Randy Brecker in person when he visits Gibraltar! 

Peter Martinez, from Levanter Breeze

“Favourite jazz artist?”

John Mclaughlin. Recommended by other musicians, I first started to listen to John Mclaughlin’s work around 1978/9. What captivated me was his sound and his unique, particular style of playing. Fusing jazz with flamenco and other ethnic sounds certainly gave me ideas about how to approach jazz in a different way, which that at the time seemed impossible as it was usually presented in the traditional manner. Today, I still reinforce my work with his influences.
 
“Favourite jazz album?”

“Electric Guitarist”. This is the first album or contact with Mclaughlin’s work. Again, his capability to fuse so many influences is a true reference for any jazz guitarist who wants to perform something different.

Click here to read more about the Gibraltar Jazz Festival.

Photo: Getty
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Gibraltar - impact of Brexit

Last week our editor took a general overview of some of the scenarios for Gibraltar if Britain were to leave the Euro. This week, as the atmosphere in the British Conservative Party becomes ever more toxic, Michael Castiel, partner at Hassans lawyers on the Rock, goes into more detail (this piece written before the Iain Duncan Smith resignation and subsequent arguments happened).

However unlikely it may prove, the prospect of Britain's withdrawal from the EU sends shivers through Gibraltar's financial services, gaming and tourism industries, which are at the core of Gibraltar’s economy. For, if Britain leaves the EU, Gibraltar goes too, and, should Brexit occur, it is Gibraltar’s relationship with the UK that as in the past, largely will shape Gibraltar's future.

Gibraltar joined the European Union in 1973 as part of the UK. While rights to freedom of services across borders of EU member states apply between Gibraltar and the rest of the EU, because Gibraltar is not a separate member state (and is in fact part of the UK Member State) those rights do not apply between Gibraltar and the UK. Instead a bilateral agreement, formalised almost two decades ago, gives Gibraltar's financial service companies the equivalent EU passporting rights into the UK. Accordingly and pursuant to such agreement, where EU rights in banking, insurance and other financial services are concerned, the UK treats Gibraltar as if it is a separate member state.

This reliance on the special relationship with the UK is recognised by both the Government and the Opposition in Gibraltar, and when the territory (which in this instance as part of the UK electorate) goes to the polls on 23 June, the vote to remain in the EU is likely to be overwhelming. This may have symbolic significance but realistically seems unlikely to influence the outcome. In actual terms, although some non-EU jurisdictions use Gibraltar and its EU passporting rights as a stepping stone into Europe, almost 80% of Gibraltar’s business dealings are with the UK.

But whether or not Britain maintains the 'special relationship' with Gibraltar, if Brexit becomes a reality, other factors will come into play, with the ever-present Spanish Government’s historic sovereignty claim over Gibraltar topping the list.

Recently Spain's caretaker Foreign Minister Jose Maria Margallo went on record that if the UK voted to leave the EU he would immediately 'raise with the UK the question of Gibraltar.' If this was to come about it could take one or more of several different forms, ranging from a complete closure of the border between Spain and Gibraltar, demanding that Gibraltar passport-holders obtain costly visas to visit or transit Spain, imposing more stringent border controls, or a frontier toll on motorists driving into or out of Gibraltar. The latter idea was in fact floated by the Spanish Government three years ago, but dropped when the EU Commission indicated that any such toll would contravene EU law.

Here, again, imponderables come into play, for much will depend on which political parties will form the next Spanish government. A Spanish government headed by the right wing PP party is likely to take a less accommodating attitude towards Gibraltar (the Foreign Minister having recently indicated that in case of Brexit the Spanish Government may opportunistically push once again for a joint sovereignty deal with the UK over Gibraltar) whereas a left of centre coalition will likely adopt a more pragmatic and cooperative relationship with Gibraltar in the event of EU exit.

The most significant changes to Gibraltar's post-Brexit operation as an international finance centre are likely to be in the sphere of tax, and while Gibraltar has always met its obligations in relation to the relevant EU rules and Directives, it has also been slightly uncomfortable with aspects of the EU's moves towards harmonisation of corporate taxes across member states.

Although it was formed as a free market alliance, since its inception fiscal matters have been at the root of the EU, but Gibraltar's 'special relationship' with Britain has allowed considerable latitude in relation to what taxes it imposes or those it doesn't. However, as is the case with other member states, Gibraltar has increasingly found in recent years its fiscal sovereignty eroded and its latitude on tax matters severely curtailed.

As in Britain, Gibraltar has benefitted from several EU Directives introduced to harmonise and support the freedom of establishment, particularly the Parent-Subsidiary Directive which prohibits withholding taxes on cross-border intra-group interest dividend and royalty payments made within the EU.

As a stepping stone for foreign direct investment, should Brexit come about EU subsidiaries could no longer rely on these Directives to allow tax-free dividend or interest payments to their holding companies based in Gibraltar. In the case of the UK, bilateral double tax treaties will no doubt mitigate the impact of the non-application of any tax related Directives. Gibraltar, however, is not currently a party to any bilateral double tax treaties. Accordingly, Gibraltar would either have to seek from the UK the extension of all or some of the UK’s bilateral tax treaties to Gibraltar (subject of course to the agreement by the relevant counterparties) or it would need to negotiate its own network of bilateral double tax treaties with a whole series of EU and non EU Member States. To say the least, neither of these options would be straightforward to implement at short notice and would need the wholehearted support of the British Government

Whilst Gibraltar’s economy is likely to be adversely affected should Brexit occur, there may be some potential benefits. An EU exit would result in fewer regulations and possibly may provide Gibraltar with greater exposure to emerging economies.

From a tax perspective, an EU exit would probably enable Gibraltar to introduce tax rules and incentives that are contrary to EU tax laws and would provide the Gibraltar Government more freedom to adopt competitive tax regimes that may be considered contrary to EU state aid rules. How possible or effective any such strategy would be is doubtful given the OECD driven anti-tax avoidance climate affecting all reputable jurisdictions whether within or outside the EU.

In this as well as other possible change much will hinge on any post-Brexit relationship with the UK - an issue which the Gibraltar Government addressed recently in a paper sent to Westminster's Foreign Affairs Committee. It stressed not only that 'EU membership has been an important factor in the development of Gibraltar’s economy' but also the importance of 'clarity as to the rights the British Government will protect and defend for Gibraltar in the context of its own negotiations.' 

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