Flamenco plus

The fusion of jazz and flamenco is not something new – it has been done for some years, going back to Ramon Montoya and Sabicas on the Flamenco side and Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, to name but a few, on the jazz side. But really prominent it became with Paco de Lucia, his early work with Pedro Iturralde in the saxophonists group and then with Jorge Pardo and of course with Chick Corea under his own name or with Touchstone, Chick’s album and group with a flamenco flavour. Others followed, of these most known probably Chano Dominguez and Gerardo Nunez, as well as young bass player Pablo Martin, whose album El Caminero is a perfect example of flamenco and jazz fused into one great music. Or Dave Holland and Pepe Habichuela’s group and their album Hands, in which Dave plays flamenco and not jazz and creates something beautiful with his Spanish friends, including Josemi Carmona, who as well is part of the group OK World, led by Bugge Wesseltoft, and adds a shot of Spanish flavour to the groups music.Or Anoushka Shankar and her album Traveller …. and now Richard Bona, who came to Madrid to work with some young and upcoming Flamenco musicians. The first concert of the group was at the almost full Sala BUT and had Richard bring a bit of African influence into the Flamenco he played with his 7 musicians and one dancer.

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Antonio Rey: guitar / Melón Jiménez: guitar / Yerai Cortés: guitar / Sandra Carrasco: voice / Israel Fernández, voice / Tomas Potirón: violin / José Montaña: percussion / José Maldonado: dancer

The combination of the African grooves and the African lyrics with the flamenco feel and singing was an experience in itself and musically it worked extremely well. Guitarist Antonio Rey was the outstanding musician beside Bona and the singers. The first concert showed how much Africa there is in Flamenco and that this project has a lot to look forward to, surely growing the more they will perform.

M&L

Dawn is the first collaboration of Mexican singer Magos Hererra and Spanish guitarist, composer and producer Javier Limon and I am proud to have been able to sign them to the OKeh label I am running for Sony Music. The duo creates such an intimate atmosphere and simplicity in music that it is a pleasure to listen to them, whether they play jazz standards, Spanish and Mexican traditionals or their own songs. Magos has this magic in her voice that draws you into the music and makes you listen and Javier simply supports her with his guitar and some flamenco touches that creates the path for Magos to walk on. What works incredible on the record is even better in concert – Magos captures your attention with her impeccable delivery of the vocals, her dramatic movements within the music and her smile when Javier plays something unexpected, but supportive and giving her a direction to go and scat or simply introduce a different idea into the song. Jazz and Flamenco in perfect harmony and when they introduced at the end of their concert in Madrid’s Teatro Galileo the harmonica player Antonio Serrano into the mix, it became something truly special.

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Flamenco plus …. it might not be the next big thing … but surely it will give us some great music to listen to, as above few examples already prove.

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jazzahead 2014

For three days Bremen is the centre of the jazz world – when jazzahead is held in the Congress Centre and jazz-heads from all over the world (according to the organisers from 50 countries) are coming together to chat, listen and conduct a bit of business. A great place to meet old and new friends and collaborators in jazz in all levels of the business: musicians, managers, agents, labels and all sorts of media and of course just the fan. I arrived on Friday, April 25th and dived right into a series of meetings and the few showcases I really wanted to check out I didn’t make – too many people to run into and having a chat with, so I missed Phronesis, but think that their new album is really great and worth checking out. ‘Life To Everything’ is a great piano trio album, with the focus on the word trio and not piano. I as well missed Marc Cary’s performance and Jacques Schwartz-Bart, even so I made it to the venue, but finally managed to hear Shai Maestro, Avishai Cohen’s ex –pianist who performed with his trio and so introduced me to his new album The Road To Ithaca, a brilliant and dynamic complex album of improvised music based on jazz and pop. Then off to the bar and to some music talk and wine ….

The next day, without hangover, more meetings and chats and encounters with journalists and musicians and then off to see Belgian pianist Jef Neve doing a solo concert at the Focke Museum. For me Jef is one of the most exciting European pianists and this solo show just confirmed that view: from a emotional and touching Lush Life to some of his own pieces, the 40 minutes were gone too fast and the desire to hear more lingered on … After that and a quick bite at the Bremen fun fair that was placed right in front of the Congress Centre, I went to see and hear young Dutch guitar master Bram Stadhouders’ Henosis, a project I had seen already in Rotterdam at North Sea 2012, but that again was pretty amazing and of a haunting and atmospheric beauty and really touching in the best moments of Choir and guitar interplay. Then off to the Schlachthof to catch some music there, but ran into writer Stuart Nicholson and over 2 beers we discussed the status of jazz in the world … very interesting indeed. Then a bit of Elephant9 with Reine Fiske, which was pretty amazing and is a band I can only recommend, and off to have a drink with some friends from Vienna. A fun night.

Just a breakfast meeting on Sunday and then back home … with lots of work and ideas to follow through on. And being a bit exhausted and tired, but that is part of coming back from jazzahead, which seems to still grow and becoming more important – a fact that will see jazzahead move next year to bigger premises within the Congress Centre … more meetings …… and showcases!