Monday, November 12th – as part of the 50th Voll-Damm Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona, Bill Frisell did a workshop and a rare solo concert that day – what a treat. The concert confirmed Frisell’s status as a unique story-teller on his instruments – with the help of some loops and sounds he ’told’ the audience his stories, plus some about what the world needs now and  a finger turning everything into gold that it touches. Stories told in the tradition of the ancient story-tellers, the same in content, but different in the wording, every time. A true story-teller lives his stories and puts emotion into the description of the world the stories play in … Frisell is a master in this and solo he can focus on how he wants to express himself even more than in a group setting. There is no question that Bill Frisell is one of the great musicians and improvisers of our time … and I simply love to listen to him telling his stories.

2 days later trumpet player Nils Petter Molvaer visited Madrid as part of JazzMadrid 18 and brought his amazing group featuring Johan Lindstrøm on guitar and pedal steel guitar, Jo Berger Myhre on bass and Erland Dahlen on drums with him to perform the music of ‘Buoyancy’, his latest band album. Molvaers music, in its mix of ambient sounds, jazzy grooves and rock elements can make you fell like you are floating in a sea of music, being thrown around by the different strengths of the sounds, the waves coming in a rhythm and move you as if dancing on the surface … then a tsunami of sounds washes over you and takes you up, only to let you land on your feet again, carried by the crystal clear sound of the trumpet. There is no genre to this, it is just great music, powerful and touching.

Thursday, Michel Camilo performing in Madrid a solo concert in support of his latest release, a solo live recording from London. Camilo is a powerful performer with an incredible left hand and again showcases his amazing technical abilities on his instrument … starting with a groovy ‘Island Beat’, which immediately gets the audience going. But Michel is not only a power player, his sensitive touch in the ballads, like in his own ‘Sandra Serenade’, is beautiful and draws the audience into the essence of the song. But the highlights in his shows are the faster compositions and for me one of these is his incredible solo version of Paul Desmonds ‘Take Five’, which he originally recorded for the ‘What’s Up?’ album, another solo gem in his catalogue. Camilo is a versatile showman and incredible improviser … check him out live or get the Live In London album … definitely worth it!

How better to end this amazing week of great music than with singer Stacey Kent and her band, featuring saxophonist, flautist and composer Jim Tomlinson, Graham Harvey on piano, Jeremy Brown on bass and Josh Morrison on drums. Despite some difficult travel on the performance day and Stacey battling a bit of a cold and a cough, she performed beautifully and the band, especially Tomlinson and Harvey, laid down wonderful support for her voice, as well as playing some touching soli. To keep the voice safe, the repertoire of the evening was mostly ballads and mid-tempo songs, from Brazil or France … compositions by Jobim, Valle, Gainsbourg, Ferrer and others, as well as the song ‘Bullet Train’, composed by Tomlinson with lyrics by Literature Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro and one of the highlights of the evening. A very laid back, but musically captivating concert.

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