Catalan! Arts

Compilation CD Jazz from Catalonia 2014
Compilation CD Jazz from Catalonia 2014

Jazz from Catalonia 2014: Tracks selected by Olga Àbalos (music journalist) in collaboration with Susanna Carmona (coordinator of Jazz Terrassa), Martí Farré (music journalist), Josep Mestres (Barcelonajazzradio), Pere Pons (director of Jamboree jazz club), Roger Roca (music journalist) and ICEC.

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Impacto inminente
Los Mambo Jambo: Un baile hipnótico (2:22)
CD: “Impacto inminente”
Author: Dani Nel•lo, Mario Cobo, Anton Jarl, Ivan Kovacevic

This band provides an addictive blend of '50s-style rhythm'n'blues, swing and rock. With the stage as its natural habitat, this musical cocktail really comes into its own when performed live. Los Mambo Jambo uncompromisingly combine bite-sized instrumental and danceable bursts directly linking into a playful and popular musical tradition. Impacto inminente is the second album from this veteran quartet which has made a big impact in Europe.

Live at Jamboree, Barcelona
Andrea Motis & Joan Chamorro Quintet featuring Scott Hamilton: Exactly like You (4:23)
CD: “Live at Jamboree, Barcelona”
Author: McHugh – Fields

The young singer, saxophonist and trumpeter Andrea Motis has matured into adulthood, leaving behind her label as a promising youngster. Her third album, as co-bandleader alongside Joan Chamorro, is both a confirmation of her talent and homage to classical jazz and swing that is a pleasure to any ear. Veteran saxophonist Scott Hamilton adds his signature flourish to standards like I Fall in Love Too Easily and Exactly like You.

Víctor de Diego Trío: I Mean You (4:48)
CD: “Tribute”
Author: Thelonius Monk

Underpinned by his solid knowledge of sax language and a style reminiscent of West Coast sound masters like Stan Getz, Víctor de Diego leads a project as yet unseen in his career so far: a trio without the backing of any harmonic instrument. This stripped-back sound allows him to reinterpret classics such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Cole Porter in a more rhythmic, lighter way, at the same time as reinventing his own sound with two pieces written by him.

South Lamar Boulevard
Bridges & Chris Cheek: Snails (5:16)
CD: “South Lamar Boulevard”
Author: Guillem Callejón

Following a low-key debut as a trio and a second album which circumnavigated the landscape usually associated with the jazz folk of Bill Frisell, this third album from Bridges, a project band led by guitarist Guillem Callejón, goes for a light, elastic, suggestive jazz that favours the mid-tempo and contemporary harmony and includes a spattering of rock. The powerful and argumentative saxophone of Chris Cheek makes a resolute journey through impressionist landscapes.

Alright Again
Walk Tall: Mode Joe (4:35)
CD: “Alright Again”
Author: Enric Peinado

Two Catalans, one Italian and a Swiss musician make up this neo-bop quartet that represents the synergies within a more contemporary European jazz. Rock, improvisation, moments of straight jazz and touches of humour are blended in an offering designed to be a collage of rhythms and melodies. Ramon Prats and Giampaolo Laurentaci provide a versatile rhythmic base alongside the poignant and evocative harmonic input of Gilles Estoppey and Enric Peinado.

Eva Novoa Quartet
Eva Novoa Quartet: Ik ben boos (5:22)
CD: “Eva Novoa Quartet”
Author: Eva Novoa

It seems that now definitively settled in New York, pianist Eva Novoa is allowing her more experimental side to emerge, as if reflecting the dynamic flow and restlessness that characterises New York jazz. With this eponymous album, Novoa uses improvisation as a tool for composition, and the result is eleven tracks representing a broadly expressive spectrum. A defiant, intimate jazz in which the artist remains true to herself.

Filthy Habits Ensemble Plays Stravinsky
Filthy Habits Ensemble: Marche du soldat (1:51)
CD: “Filthy Habits Ensemble Plays Stravinsky”
Author: Igor Stravinsky

Recorded at Barcelona's Jamboree venue, the new work from this Catalan nonet explores one of the most well-known and narrative pieces of Igor Stravinsky’s legacy, the suite L’Histoire du soldat (1918). The Filthy Habits Ensemble, formed as a tribute to Frank Zappa, confidently rise to the challenge of bringing a project which demands such great technical and expressive skill into the world of jazz rock and avant-garde jazz.

Menta, diari sonor
David Mengual Free Spirits Big Band: Le dice el niño (4:27)
CD: “Menta, diari sonor”
Author: Dani Pérez

The second album from this large-scale operation—involving up to 15 young musicians—denotes another step towards the consolidation of a project seeking to establish its own personality through avant-garde jazz and contemporary music. It also marks a coming together of prominent Catalan jazzmen (Joan Vidal, Sergi Sirvent and Giulia Valle contribute their arrangements) and the next generation.

Flamenco Reunion
Marc Miralta: Junto a las estrellas (5:28)
CD: “Flamenco Reunion”
Author: Marc Miralta

It has taken 15 years for percussionist Marc Miralta to release the sequel to his groundbreaking work, New York Flamenco Reunion. During this time, he has added many influences and ideas to his bag of tricks; however, it was saxophonist Perico Sambeat who convinced him to remain true to the concept of that first album: seeking out jazz standards that can be adapted to flamenco palos. The new twist is provided by the addition of the voice of Blas Córdoba 'El Kejío'.

A Moment’s Liberty
Aurora Trio: Uma (5:09)
CD: “A Moment’s Liberty”
Author: Agustí Fernández

Proof that from a melody that anyone could hum a discourse can be created that challenges the most discerning of listeners. A Moment's Liberty, the third work to come from three of Europe's most celebrated improvisers, Agustí Fernández, Barry Guy and Ramón López, is the result of the exploration of that “extraordinary, unexpected and unusual” moment that exemplifies what it is to be a musician.

Les narrations
Marcel•lí Bayer: Miau, va dir ella (4:42)
CD: “Les narrations”
Author: Marcel•lí Bayer

After making his debut as bandleader with Nonitz, a nonet project based on the work of Lee Konitz, alto saxophonist Marcel•lí Bayer has now chosen to work as part of a quartet and explore his talents as a soloist. Les narrations is an album with a true story hidden behind each song and where the jazz takes on a melodic form. The sound is refined but, at the same time, the result of a free-thinking and incredibly expressive mind-set.

Marquès / Stinson / O’Farrill Trio: Cosmic Lullaby (4:17)
CD: “¡Pa’lante!”
Author: Walter Stinson

The first album by Albert Marquès, a pianist from Granollers, turns what is conceived as being Latin jazz on its head. Alongside Walter Stinson and Zack O'Farrill—son of the legendary Chico O'Farrill—the Catalan puts his seal on an eclectic album of defined jazz with a cultural crossover, packed full with unexpected twists, such as the collaboration with Latin hip-hop group Circa 95 on Azúcar, and put together in New York's Brooklyn district, where he has been living in recent years.

La hora fértil
Marco Mezquida: La hora fertil (5:47)
CD: “La hora fértil”
Author: Marco Mezquida

There is no doubt that Marco Mezquida is already one of the best pianists on the Catalan scene. Born in Menorca and at only 27 years of age, he can already boast 20 albums as a sideman, four as a bandleader and a dizzying work schedule. His first solo piano album is but a small demonstration of the fact that Mezquida is a humanist at the piano: his compositions include songs which embrace the spirit of classical music and free improvisation along with references to the romantic music of Chopin and Schumann.

Illusionary Rhythms
Joan Vidal Sextet: Illusionary #5 (4:47)
CD: “Illusionary Rhythms”
Author: Joan Vidal (based on a piece by György Ligeti)

Béla Bartók, Conlon Nancarrow, Johannes Ockeghem and above all György Ligeti are the composers, mostly from the last century, that drummer Joan Vidal pays tribute to on his new album. He achieves this by expanding the boundaries of jazz and exploiting its nature as a hybrid and porous music genre. Vidal is back at his best with these musical arrangements which reflect a humanist spirit and re-examine some of the creative periods pertaining to the twentieth century.

Live at Jamboree
Free Art Ensemble + Agustí Fernández: Trumpet Piece (3:12)
CD: “Live at Jamboree”
Author: Kenny Weeler

Made up of a group of ten Andalusian and Catalan musicians, Free Art Ensemble (FAE) is above all a collective experience that naturally embraces free jazz, in its most primal sense, along with contemporary and popular music. The FAE, who have also toured with a flamenco project entitled Antes existió el grito, are joined on this second album by pianist Agustí Fernández as conductor.