Barcelona Voll-Damm Jazz Festival: Barcelona, Spain, November 24-30, 2012
Earlier in the evening the first Some Enchanted Pairings from author Will Friedwald and Head Sommelier Cèsar Cànovas took place at Monvínic. The restaurant has become established as the home for some of the festival's most unusual and fascinating events and this was no exception. For each presentation (the second was on Friday) Friedwald selected two versions of six classic songs and spoke about the history of the songs and the different recordings. To accompany each pair of songs Cànovasvoted Best Sommelier In Spain in 2011chose a wine, giving a brief explanation of his choice before the audience listened and tasted.
Friedwald's intensive knowledge of and enthusiasm for the American Songbook was clear. His stories about the songs and about the versions he had chosen were engaging and informative, delving deep into some of the more esoteric aspects of the jazz story. Cànovas put much thought into his selections, matching the lyric of a song to the flavors and sensations of the winehence the sound of "Stardust" sung by Hoagy Carmichael and then Bing Crosby was matched by a Makedonia wine from Greece, while Frank Sinatra and Anita O'Day's versions of "Night And Day" was accompanied a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Thursday, November 29
Spike Wilner's lunchtime master class at the Conservatori combined insights into the history of jazz piano, illustrated by the pianist's arrangements of tunes from Willie "The Lion" Smith and James P. Johnson, among others, with further insights gained from his co-ownership of Smalls jazz club in New York. Wilner's musicianship came over strongly, as did his philosophy on jazz club management, at least as it applies to Smalls. Interestingly, Wilner also spoke of his plans for the club's music policy, both in terms of the use of new technologies and its potential for impacting positively on musicians' income streams.
It was France's turn to provide the entertainment on Thursday evening, hosting an event at the Institut Français which combined visual images and music; more specifically, the photographs of Guy Le Querrec (pictured left) and the music of reed players Michel Portal and Louis Sclavis, bassist Henri Texier and drummer Christophe Marguet in a project titled L'Oeil De L'Éléphant. The combination worked superbly. Le Querrec, a Magnum photographer whose iconic photos include images of singer Nina Simone and trumpeter Miles Davis, has an eye for the unguarded moment as well as an ability to capture artists in performance.
This performance of L'Oeil De L'Éléphant grouped Le Querrec's photographs together in sections with titles such as "Feet and Hands," "On The Trail Of Big Foot" (about a journey to commemorate the Battle of Wounded Knee) and "Optical Illusions" (accompanied by bassist Charles Mingus' "Fables Of Faubus"). Texier and Marguet captured not only the rhythm of the changing images, but also the rhythms within the images. Sclavis and Portal ably reflected the emotions displayed in the pictures with their own playing: Sclavis concentrated on saxophones while Portal switched smoothly from saxophone to bass clarinet to bandoneon. If there was ever a definitive demonstration of the empathy between photography and music, this was it.
Friday, November 30
The prospect of hearing one of the world's finest trios in one of its loveliest music venues made this Friday night concert one of the most eagerly awaited of the festival. No pressure there, then. When the Chick Corea Trio took to the stage of the sold-out Palau de la Música the three musiciansCorea, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Bladecertainly didn't look like a band under pressure. They looked like three musicians out to have a good time. Expectations were, if anything, exceeded by their set, notable for the musicians' empathy, the exceptionally high standard of their playing and the varied moods of the music.