Made in Spain

Almost 2 years ago I wrote the following in one of my blogs: Went out to see Ariadna Castellanos yesterday – a young and immensely talented pianist, who plays flamenco on the piano, with power and feeling and a lot of fun. The presentation of her debut album ‘Flamenco en Black & White’ at the club Clamores was a great show with several special guests, including singer Sandra Carrasco. As her producer Javier Limon said in the introduction: She is not playing the guitar – she is not a man – she is not a gypsy – but she surely plays Flamenco! Now I saw her again perform, this time at the club Bogui Jazz – she is definitely more confident, more relaxed and so is her music – still deeply rooted in Flamenco, she performed solo, just with percussion and in a trio, adding a sax to the mix. When I saw her 2 years ago I could hear her classical training in the way she played and improvised … that is not the case anymore, she has surely matured and her embellished improvisations on the flamenco themes and rhythms show her progress clearly. The moments with the percussionist were interesting as some understanding was there, but the trio hadn’t obviously played together before and one could hear that – still good, but they will need a few more gigs under their belts to make it great and easier flowing. I hope I won’t take another 2 years to hear her again, as she is worth seeing develop.

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Josemi Carmona is one of my favourite guitar players here in Spain – versatile and always open for something new. Being the ‘young one’ in million selling group Ketama, he got the openness to music from his father, Pepe Habichuela, with whom he played with Dave Holland for a while. Then he started his connection with keyboard master Bugge Wesseltoft, being a member of his group OK World and performing with him around the world. He is making himself a name as composer and producer as well and last week performed in Madrid with a trio that included percussionist Bandolero and leading Spanish bass player Javier Colina – all three masters of their instruments and they had played together before, backing up Jorge Pardo. The repertoire was very much on the Latin side: from jazzy Flamencos to Mexican composers (Consuela Velazquez among them) and Antonio Carlos Jobim … all done with great style and arrangements which gave the musicians room to play around, improvise and generally having a good time in each other’s company. The all-acoustic setting of the small room helped to create an intimate atmosphere and the musicians showcased their skills in the service of the songs … listening to each other, supporting the soli with subtle chords and rhythms. If these guys are going to play more often together, this trio could be really something else. Let’s just hope they do.

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