John Surman with his ‘Invisible Threads’ Trio at the Conde Duque – beautiful little melodies performed by three masters of their genre: Surman on bass clarinet and soprano saxophone, Nelson Ayres on piano and Rob Waring on vibraphone and marimba. John Surman is a European Jazz Legend as a composer as well as a performer and creative improviser and here his compositions, as well as the ones of the other members of the trio, gave the musicians space to develop ideas around the melodies, to follow the mood of the moment and create new music on the spot. The combination of the vibraphone with the piano sounds powerful and supportive to the main improviser, but the vibes on the other hand as well add a percussive element to the music. A wonderful, contemplative musical experience by a trio that revelled in its togetherness … and the album with the same name is a great addition to an already impressive body of work by the British musician.
Violinist Regina Carter hasn’t been in Madrid too often and a visit is always a chance to enjoy her unparalleled playing. Her group featuring Xavier Davis on piano, Chris Lightcap on bass and Alvester Garnett on drums dug deep into the repertoire of her latest album ‘Ella .. Accentuate the Positive’ and delivered a memorable concert mainly of compositions connected to the great singer. Carter is an outstanding improviser, swinging through these songs with ease, who as well did sing on occasion, especially wonderful in a composition by bass player and vocalist Richard Bona. Her band perfectly supported her with Davis outstanding in filling spaces and his melodic improvisations. Exceptional!
Tigran Hamasyan followed up last years impressive solo concert with another wonderful performance, showing his improvisational skills, using his own compositions from his two recent solo albums ‘An Ancient Observer’ and ‘For Gyumri’ as a base for his musical excursions. Floating between jazz parts, Armenian folk music elements and classical themes, Tigran combined his various musical influences into one single and unique voice on the piano. One song performed on keyboards with electronic sounds and loops, was an interesting exercise in what he can do with these instruments, but felt a bit lost within an acoustic piano performance, which entranced the audience.
Antonio Sanchez and his band Migration ended for me JazzMadrid18 with a captivating show. Sanchez made it clear that his music has a political and human message to it, by not only dedicating the concert, but as well the forthcoming album ‘Lines in the sand’, to migrants all over the world. He especially pointed to the situation on the borders between the US and Mexico … and the music of this amazing group reflected all the despair and suffering, but as well all the hope and joy of these migrants. The group Migration features beside the leader and drummer Sanchez vocalist Thana Alexa, Chais Baird on sax and EWI, John Escreet on piano and Orlando de Fleming on bass, all leaders in their own right and they created a powerful sound as a unit, being able to express all emotions together. No matter whether it was a beautiful little melody or a free-flowing soundscape they performed everything as a group and got a deserved standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd. A powerful statement in many ways!