Catalan! Arts

Compilation CD Jazz from Catalonia 2011
Compilation CD Jazz from Catalonia 2011

Catalan jazz captivates us with its diversity and the way it embraces a broad range of styles. In Europe, over the last sixty years, diverse styles based on musical improvisation have arisen, heavily marked by cultural pluralism. Jazz in Catalonia is an excellent example of this.

Tracks selected by Ferran Esteve’s (translator and journalist specializing in jazz) proposal in collaboration with Ulrich Beckerhoff (Jazzahead festival), Susanna Carmona (Festival Jazz Terrassa), Josep Mestres (Barcelonajazzradio), Pere Pons (Jaç magazine) and Roger Roca (music journalist).

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Morning Glory
Agustí Fernández, Barry Guy, Ramón López: Zahorí (4.55)
CD: “Morning Glory”
Author: Agustí Fernández

Six years after Aurora, the trio returns to the studio in order to record Morning Glory along the same lines of the first album: engaging in a quest for expressivity based on as few elements as possible, without barring out incursions into the field of improvisation to which the trio have led us to become accustomed.

Asociación Libre Orkesta
Asociación Libre Orkesta: 旅 (el viaje) (4.54)
CD: “Asociación Libre Orkesta”
Author: Asociación Libre Orkesta

This is the resident band at Robadors 23, a bastion for creative live music in Barcelona. The A.L.O. explores the potential for fusing music with other art forms such as imagery and poetry, an example of the boldest experimentation to be witnessed in these parts at its defining moment.

Bridges: Hans Castorp (3.55)
CD: “Bridges”
Author: Guillem Callejón

This group defines its jazz as introspective and they claim to produce music where technique works to afford sensitivity. Bridges, the first album from this young Catalan trio, is a selection of unostentatious tracks that are well-written and performed with patience and serenity: fine music.

CAP Live at Jamboree
CAP Trio: Regeneración (3.58)
CD: “CAP Live at Jamboree”
Author: Víctor Correa

This trio engages in an unorthodox arrangement, performing rich, live music that is at times ethereal and fusing the avant-garde with groove, all under the close watch of Thelonious Monk. This group knows how to make the most of the potential to be gained from the instrumentation they work with.

Giulia Valle Group: Break-A-Loop (5.14)
CD: “Berenice”
Author: Giulia Valle

Berenice, the third album from Giulia Valle, is another absolute gem. A thoroughbred double bass player, her quintet has become one of the most skilled bands on the jazz scene by establishing a highly straightforward blend: first-rate musicians, finely-composed tunes and harmony.

Jazz Ateu
Ismael Dueñas Trio: Si això no em surt bé me’n vaig a França (4.34)
CD: “Jazz Ateu”
Author: Ismael Dueñas

In times when jazz-related fundamentalisms prevail, Ismael Dueñas ventures for broadening the panorama of what we refer to as jazz to encompass undreamed-of realms. Jazz Ateu is an album vindicating an open manner of understanding music, dispensing with imposed labels.

Campo de Agramante
Javier Galiana & Spice Berberechos: Trotonda del zarajo (6.22)
CD: “Campo de Agramante”
Author: Javier Galiana

Campo de Agramante, the second album from Javier Galiana’s band, lays testimony to the fact that, for some time, the fusion of flamenco and jazz has ceased to represent a mere picturesque fashion. This is an album on which jondura and the avant-garde go hand-in-hand under the watchful eye of this musician from Cádiz.

Benestar / Peaceful
Joan Díaz: Suite no. 4 (5.54)
CD: “Benestar / Peaceful”
Author: Joan Díaz

When he released We Sing Bill Evans, in addition to celebrating the album, Jazzman magazine encouraged Díaz to embark on a solo piano album. No sooner said than done. Benestar / Peaceful, as the title meaning wellbeing suggests, is a serene, calm album, one on which the pianist manages to allow his music to unveil its secrets.

Joel Moreno Codinachs Quintet: Octoblues (6.13)
CD: “Emergexit”
Author: Joel Moreno Codinachs

What happens when an excellent guitarist settles in New York for a period? He returns with an album like Emergexit under his belt. Joel Moreno is a musician who knows how to employ the complexity of the style known as jazz to forge his music.

Iulianus Suite
Jordi Rossy Quintet: Scilla e Cariddi (5.52)
CD: “Iulianus Suite”
Author: Jordi Rossy

It is no longer surprising to see Jordi Rossy at the piano and it is similarly unsurprising for him to bequeath us an album attesting to his reputation. Iulianus Suite, the debut from his quintet, lays testimony to the fact that Rossy is one of the pillars of Catalan jazz as a drummer, as a pianist or as a composer.

Tea Time
Martí Serra: Please, Do Come In (4.26)
CD: “Tea Time”
Author: Martí Serra

Tea Time is the second album headed by the saxophonist from Badalona Martí Serra and it invites us to spend an afternoon in his company with tea and pastries, a sine qua non requirement when it comes to enjoying this “neo-conceptual”, staid album which also features a first class guest: Sergi Sirvent.

Transplanet Species
Miguel Fernández Quintet: El amor después del mediodía (4.51)
CD: “Transplanet Species”
Author: Miguel Fernández

Transplanet Species, the first album directed by the saxophonist from Navarre Miguel Fernández, is clear proof of the fact that we are witnessing a musician with an extraordinarily powerful voice, a notion of eclectic composition achieving smooth, mature discourse.

MUT Trio: 273 (4.33)
CD: “1374”
Author: Oriol Roca, Miguel Fernández, Albert Juan

This is a trio that is led by no one or indeed by all three members. This band performs music for the sheer pleasure of doing so. The first album from the MUT Trio is a combination of written tracks and improvised fragments all with a common denominator: space does not need to be filled with music because silence can also constitute music.

El pes de les balances
Sergi Sirvent: Connexions en l’efervescència (6.03)
CD: “El pes de les balances”
Author: Sergi Sirvent

No one would think that Sirvent finished composing (or improvising) the tracks on this double album at less than 30 years of age. El pes de les balances, Sirvent’s solo keyboard venture, is more than just a solo album for piano; it is an attempt to sum up the aesthetics of his music.

Song Lines
Tom Johnson’s Shark: Línia 1 (5.15)
CD: “Song Lines”
Author: Tom Johnson

With groove constituting the hallmark of this group, trombonist Tom Johnson’s quintet focuses on performing music with an appealing, albeit complex rhythm, because producing a quality product doesn’t mean you cannot take audiences to realms in which they’ve never dared to venture.