January offered a few treats in terms of local musicians performing and I took the chance to go and see pianist Juan Sebastian Vazquez celebrating his 27th birthday at the Bogui Jazz Club in presence of a few special guests. His trio, with him on keys, Francisco Lopez on bass and Daniel Garcia on drums invited first trumpet player Raynald Colom to join them and later the Lyra Quartet, featuring Claudia Perez on viola, Jennifer Dávila and Elina Sitnikava on violin as well as Cristina Arista on cello!! They started as a trio, performing Juan Sebastian’s beautiful compositions as well as a bit of Mehldau and some Fred Hersch (in a wonderful arrangement for the full group with strings) and some more of Juan’s pieces, which fitted in with the covers perfectly. He showcased his unique talents as a pianist with incredible skills for improvisation as well as composition and arrangement. A young musician worth to keep following.
Second on the list was a few days later at the Café Central one of my favourite musicians here in Spain, Pablo Martin Caminero, who with his quintet of Moises Sanchez on piano, Ariel Brínguez on saxophone, Toni Belenguer on trombone and Michael Olivera on drums, performed some music from Pablo’s previous recordings as well as some new tracks from the forthcoming album ‘Bost’. Pablo’s new compositions are truly jazz pieces, but rooted in flamenco as well and are powerful and beautiful, with surprising changes and remarkable little melodies. As with Juan Sebastian, Pablo Martin is a local Spanish musician who deserves wider international recognition. Once the new album is out, I will review it here.
New music – on disc, LP or digital:
Jeff Ballard / Fairgrounds – drummer Ballard releases with ‘Fairgrounds’ only his second album under his own name, after the critically acclaimed ‘Time’s Tales’ from 2013 and, even so it is a different kind of album, this one will gather most likely the same great reviews. Having recorded this album with Lionel Loueke on guitar and vocals, Kevin Hays on keyboards and vocals and Reid Anderson on electronics (with some help from Pete Rende on keys, Chris Cheek and Mark Turner on saxes) this is a truly modern, groove, jazz, rock inspired album that is reminiscent of early Weather Report recordings, without copying them, but trying to create spontaneously new songs, let them develop within the group and enjoy the freedom of this process. As this is based on a live recording from an earlier tour the group did, the spontaneous process is still all there to be heard despite some editing … a strong debut for this group and an even stronger recommendation to go out and see/ hear them live. Fascinating!
Ketil Bjornstad / Rainbow Sessions (New Edition) – this wonderful box set of solo piano miniatures of touching beauty was originally released as a limited edition in 2006 and has since been my travel companion on every trip I did .. there is no better music to listen to and constantly discover new nuances or little hidden melodies and at the same time completely relax and forget everything around you, but keep being alert to the music. Now this box set has been re-issued by the Norwegian Grappa label and they added another solo disc to it, with recordings from 2012 to 2017, as the original 3 discs all done with Jan Erik Kongshaug as the recording engineer at his Rainbow Studio. Piano music at its best … somewhere situated between jazz and classical music, this is a collection of recordings I can highly recommend to everyone who loves music that can touch the soul of the listener. Timeless masterpieces.
R.I.P. Joseph Jarman (1937 – 2019)
Reed player Jarman was an important part of the Art ensemble of Chicago and I was lucky enough to have seen them many times from the early 1970’s until the early 90’s … always in awe about the pure energy the band expressed in their concerts, the raw expression of emotions. These shows will be unforgettable! Rest in Peace!