Catalan! Arts

Compilation CD Jazz from Catalonia 2009
Compilation CD Jazz from Catalonia 2009

Catalonia is a fertile field for jazz. Are its ability to open itself to other cultures, its free spirit and willingness to be adventurous the defining traits of Catalan jazz?.

Yes, without the slightest doubt, as is amply demonstrated on this CD compilation, which is selected by ICIC from Roger Roca’s (music journalist) proposal in collaboration with Susanna Carmona (Festival Jazz Terrassa), Juan Claudio Cifuentes (Jazz Porque Sí, Radio Clásica),, Martin Laurentius (Jazz Thing magazine) and Pere Pons (Jaç magazine).

The stylistic range of the musicians and groups who participate here is very broad and takes in styles from jazz soul and “classic” Stateside hard bop all the way to various different types of pop music and modern-day club culture, on the way passing through some avant-garde free improvisation.

Jazz from Catalonia CD forms part of a series of four CDs intended to internationally promote Catalan music. The rest of the CDs are: World Music from Catalonia 2009, Pop Rock from Catalonia 2009 i Electronic Music from Catalonia 2008.

To listen to the songs of Jazz from Catalonia 2009, click on the links below.

The black key
Ramon Fossati, Toni Solà & Ignasi Terrazza Trio: "Six times ten" (4.56)
CD: “The black key”
Author: Ignasi Terraza

The result of this alliance between the musicians with the country’s best swing is even greater than the sum of its parts. As exultant as the compositions of Charles Mingus, as catching as the Blue Note albums of the Sixties, as robust as the pre- bop groups, as elegant as the classics – this is an irresistible combination.

Flamenco Big Band
Perico Sambeat: “Como lo oyes" (7.46)
CD: “Flamenco Big Band”
Author: Perico Sambeat

Nobody has explored the combination of flamenco with big band codes as much as Perico Sambeat – the tones, the colours and the different rhythms, here bulerías. Carefully looking after the smallest details, this is a work where everything just slots perfectly into place. In this CD, Perico Sambeat establishes a new canon for flamenco Jazz.

#sketches of groove#
Raynald Colom: "Q.T.P." (6.03)
CD: “#sketches of groove#”
Author: Raynald Colom

He stood out as a be bop trumpeter, but with #sketches of groove# young Raynald Colom moves away from the lingua franca of jazz and looks into the folk music he has discovered first-hand recently. Flamenco, Middle Eastern cadences and Latin-American rhythms give character to this new album by a musician who is moving towards maturity.

Tan cerca
Guillermo McGill Quartet:"La duna" (3.49)
CD: “Tan cerca”
Author: Guillermo McGill

“Àfrica a la llunyania” (Africa in the distance), sings Ana Salazar. But in La duna we also come across flamenco and electric jazz. Guillermo McGill masters blends; he is an alchemist who, from these ingredients, is able to distil his own musical vision. With Tan cerca, this one-time drummer for Chano Domínguez excels and serves up a heady offering.

Marc Ayza: "Offering" (3.40)
CD: “Offering”
Author: Brian Jackson & Gil Scott-Heron

For musicians like drummer Marc Ayza, schooled in jazz and in soul and hip hop simultaneously, groove comes as naturally to them as swing did for jazzmen in the last century. Offering is a synthesis of all of the above: trio, DJ and MC speaking the same language and showing us one of the possible routes for today’s jazz to take via a warm and sensual evocation of Gil Scott-Heron.

AssTrio: “Fuga 72/05" (5.21)
CD: “Desplazamiento”
Author: Santi Serratosa / Santi Careta / Arecio G. Smith

They have presented Desplazamiento in jazz clubs, but also at the Sónar festival, the selective showcase for electronic music. With their second album, Ass Trio have leapt into the present, seeking to connect the classic organ, guitar and drums trio with contemporary dance music. This is a logical step for a group whose computer hard drives must contain – although this is mere speculation – both albums by Jimmy Smith and by Daft Punk.

In motion
Tom Johnson’s Shark: “Bioritmo" (5.07)
CD: “In motion”
Author: Tom Johnson

Dry, cutting drum’n’bass. A harsh sound. Brass with an Isaac Hayes Shaft flavours and modern-styled arrangements. The trombonist Tom Johnson comes full circle from funk to electronic dance rhythms, passing through 70s blaxploitation and, of course, soul-jazz. Music that rockets your feet and neurons.

Vrak’ Trio: “Pressé d’en finir" (5.20)
CD: “TLS-BCN Live”
Author: Etienne Lecomte

An uncommon trio has been formed on the crossroad between Toulouse and Barcelona – drums, flute and tuba – which is inspired by everything that surrounds it. One notices the footprints of free jazz and the extended forms of contemporary jazz, but also the hypnotic breath of Middle Eastern music. Not to mention the original Dixieland big bands. Where do Vrak’ Trio belong, then? To the most stimulating and alive current jazz.

Fernández / Parker / Guy / Lytton: “Air / Luft" (4.30)
CD: “Topos”
Author: Agustí Fernández / Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton

The Majorcan pianist Agustí Fernández joins forces with a trio of legendary British improvisers. First, with the snapping and crackling that he is able to extract from the piano’s guts. After that, with notes that are clear and concise, just the necessary to enrich a dialogue which is as abstract as it is moving.

Danza imprevista
Giulia Valle Group: “Oye mi canto, libélula" (7.15)
CD: “Danza imprevista”
Author: Giulia Valle

Giulia Valle, a composer at the height of her powers, signs off on an elegant structure which draws inspiration from the both the classical and jazz worlds. Oye mi canto libélula is built on the sold discipline of a well crafted score whilst exuding the vivacious freedom of jazz. She says she’s found her perfect group, and listening to this quintet, it’s easy to see why.

Al otro lado
Gorka Benítez: “Elefantes" (5.08)
CD: “Al otro lado”
Author: Gorka Benítez

Once you have heard Gorka Benítez play the sax, so emotive, so sober and so fragile at the same time, you can recognise his sound anywhere. With the songs on the surprising Al otro lado, where the Basque saxophonist is also the singer and lyricist, the same thing occurs: they exude the personality of their composer. Confessional pop crossed with jazz that reaches your heart.

Boogie portraits
Lluís Coloma: “La piragua" (7.34)
CD: “Boogie portraits”
Author: José Barros

For Lluís Coloma, boogie woogie is more than just a style. It becomes a hypnotic form of music, a sound which can put the listener intro trance. He enters into La piragua slowly, with the complicity of the American pianist Mark B., one of the invited guests on an album of duets involving European and American musicians. Coloma is already in the premier league of boogie.

Alguns moments bons
Martí Serra Trio: “Cançó de gràcies" (7.50)
CD: “Alguns moments bons”
Author: Martí Serra

It may have taken him some time, but stand-out supporting artist Martí Serra has finally taken the plunge and brought out his own album. Maybe because he’s kept us waiting so long, his debut plays like something wise beyond its years, the work of a mature artist. The saxophonist manages to sound as commanding and familiar as a veteran in the demanding trio format without piano.

Caminhos cruzados
Horacio Fumero & Albert Bover: “Fall" (4.40)
CD: “Caminhos cruzados”
Author: Wayne Shorter

Not everybody has the natural authority to win an argument without resorting to force. But Fumero and Bover certainly know how to. Their double bass and piano on a modern classic by Wayne Shorter is elegant, never strident, a master class of style. This is only their second album in thirteen years, but it feels like they’ve never been away.