March 18th, Sevilla – concert by the Branford Marsalis quartet at the Teatro Lope de Vega, part of the European tour to promote their new album ‘The Secret between the Shadow and the Soul’. The show started, as the album does, with the Eric Revis composition ‘Dance of the evil toys’, a multifaceted piece that kind of stands for everything this band is about – powerful improvisations in a free space, but always with a focus on the melodic side of the songs. And despite some problems with his horns, a cab driver in Holland dropped them the day before, Branford and his band members Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums, took off into jazzy spheres not many musicians have been. The dreamlike understanding between the 4 artists is astonishing, the challenges they throw at each other amazing and the reactions, if one of them plays something new and unexpected, rewarding for the performing musicians as well as for the audience. The quartet then played through the repertoire of the new album, touching the listener with the melodic and emotional beauty of the Joey Calderazzo ballad ‘Conversation among the ruins’, making everyone smile. Another highlight of the concert is their version of Keith Jarrett’s ‘The Windup’, a powerful and fast played composition in which all four musicians excel, but especially Calderazzo, whose solo brought cheers from his musical companions. A night, which ended with a wonderful version of W.C. Handy’s ‘St. Louis Blues’, was all what one would expect from a jazz concert … and so much more! This is probably one of the top three working bands in jazz around these days and whatever they perform it will always be the past and present of the music we call jazz, with an eye on the future and melody at its core. Early contenders for album and concert of the year!!
March 24th, Madrid – the Julian Lage Trio performing in town, presenting new music from the recently released and highly recommended album ‘Love Hurts’. As on the album the bass player in the trio is Jorge Roeder, a long-time musical companion of Julian, but whereas on the album the drums seat is occupied by Dave King, on tour it is Eric Doob delivering the beat. I have seen this trio before and think they have grown a lot as a unit, delivering guitarist Lage’s composition with understanding and a deeper sense for the melodies of their leader. They started the show with ‘Love Hurts’ the Nazareth hit from 1975 and continued to rock through Lage’s ‘Atlantic Limited’ to arrive at Ornette Coleman and some blues …. Lage and his impeccable sidemen played with power and emotional content and make the seemingly wild mix of songs work perfectly. I have been a fan of Julian for many years and believe he is by far the most interesting of all young guitar players, versatile, intelligent and full of emotions to share with his audience. If you get the chance – go and see him perform live, no matter what band he is playing with – he won’t disappoint!!
Jacques Loussier 1934 – 2019 The first of the Play Bach records was released on Decca in 1959 and my father was one of the many who bought it, plus the next three albums, released over a span of 4 years. These 4 Play Bach recordings were part of the soundtrack of my life then and have remained part of it until today. Loussier was kind of a pioneer in making Bach swing, one of the first to focus on his material in a jazzy way … something that should define his musical career. My father then in 1985 got the first digital recording of Loussier’s Best of Play Bach, then issued by Philips in 2 Volumes on CD. The swing, the beautiful melodies and the way Loussier made them work, stayed with me and I like occasionally to go back to these recordings and just listen, remembering my father’s love for this music and how it was always present to us. Loussier created timeless recordings and many other generations of listeners will enjoy these. May he Rest In Peace.