Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

251

Barcelona Voll-Damm Internacional Jazz Festival: Barcelona, Spain, November 21-26, 2011

Barcelona Voll-Damm Internacional Jazz Festival: Barcelona, Spain, November 21-26, 2011
Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Barcelona Voll-Damm Internacional Jazz Festival
Barcelona, Spain
November 21-26, 2011
The Barcelona Voll-Damm Internacional Jazz Festival is an established part of the cultural life of this vibrant Spanish city. The 2011 festival was the 43rd, and once again it brought some exceptionally fine jazz to a host of equally fine venues, attracting stars of the stature of Maria Schneider, Eliane Elias, Randy Weston and Brad Mehldau.

Barcelona is Spain's second biggest city and the capital of Catalonia, a region with its own language and rich cultural tradition. It's a bustling, busy, but friendly place, with plenty of attractions. Add a major jazz festival to the city's list of attractions, and the chance to visit becomes irresistible. So when the organizers of the 2011 Festival offered that chance there was only one response to the invitation—an excited "Yes, please." The program for the week of 21 to 26 November proved especially interesting in its mix of artists, venues and events—and the week also delivered some unseasonably warm and bright weather, making it even more of a pleasure to walk around the city's broad, tree-lined avenues.

City-based jazz festivals come in many shapes and sizes: intensive three- or four-day festivals in single venues that cram as much music as possible into each day; jazz strands within more general arts festivals; one- or two-week festivals with many events running concurrently, leaving fans to make major decisions about what to see (and what not to see). The Barcelona Voll-Damm Internacional Jazz Festival takes a more relaxed approach, stretching from mid-October to early December and with just one, or occasionally two or three, concerts each evening. For the jazz-loving Barcelona resident it's an embarrassment of riches. For a visitor spending a few days in this beautiful city it guarantees some big names and offers the chance to experience some potential surprises. In just one week, the Festival combined music, wine, portrait photography, talks and master classes and served them up in a varied host of venues.

Chapter Index
  1. Monday, November 21: The Omar Sosa Monvínic Experience
  2. Tuesday, November 22: The Tigran Hamasyan Trio
  3. Wednesday November 23: Cesc Miralta Quartet
  4. Thursday November 24: The Pat Metheny Trio
  5. Friday November 25: Dave Holland and Pepe Habichuela 'Hands'
  6. Education And The Visual Arts



Monday, November 21: The Omar Sosa Monvínic Experience

Cuban pianist Omar Sosa's solo concert was one of the most original events of the Festival. The program promised a unique lineup for a jazz event: a pianist; a prose writer; and six sommeliers. The experience did not disappoint. Monvínic, a Barcelona restaurant of striking contemporary design, was the venue and the premise was simple. The sommeliers selected eight Spanish wines. Sosa and Barcelona writer Empar Moliner created music or narratives inspired by each wine. The audience shared long dining tables that afforded the opportunity for good conversation, the tasting of all of these excellent wines, and the experience of Sosa's creative and engaging music.


Omar Sosa


The Monvínic Experience that resulted was a heady mix of music, storytelling and wine. The appearance, and tasting, of each wine was preceded by a short description, read by its maker; Moliner's own reading of her response to the wine—best described, perhaps, as a fantasy narrative—and Sosa's musical response.

Sosa is a delightful musician who seemed to be immersed in every note he played. His eight short pieces were considered, thoughtful, compositions that showed his mastery not only of the piano keyboard but also of the use of prerecorded sounds of wine being poured or bottles being opened, which he incorporated sympathetically into some of the pieces. At times he also added short phrases of wordless vocals: whether these were parts of the compositions or improvised expressions of Sosa's pleasure in performing isn't clear, but they were certainly joyous.

Unsurprisingly, given the nature of this unique event, many audience members were engaged in excited conversation as Sosa began each piece, but the music soon hushed the talk as the pianist gained his audience's attention within a few bars. While the overall feel of Sosa's tunes was gentle and reflective, each one had its own character, as did the wines. Hence his music for "Casa Castillo Pie Franco 2006" was a bluesy, upbeat tune with hints of stride piano, while the tune that accompanied "Pardas Aspriu 2009" was a lovely, flowing ballad, and his delicately mournful response to "HMR Advent Sumoll 2008," the final wine of the evening, brought just a hint of valedictory sadness.


Tuesday, November 22: The Tigran Hamasyan Trio

Luz de Gas, the venue for the Tigran Hamasyan Trio's Barcelona debut, presented a stark contrast to the modernist chic of Monvínic. The club has a warm, lived-in appeal, with its rich, dark colors and slightly faded glamour—an Art Nouveau feel. The Trio offered a more contemporary take on jazz, but still seemed at home on the Luz de Gas' stage.

The young Armenian pianist has been attracting plenty of press since the release of his solo album A Fable (Verve International, 2011) and much has been made of his energetic live performances. As a result, expectations were high for this event, but his concert was a relatively muted affair, with little of this energy apparent in Hamasyan's performance. Occasionally the pianist jumped up and down, or played standing up for short periods, but he was generally content to remain seated as he played.

The band presented tunes from A Fable, rearranged for the trio lineup. Hamasyan's version of "Some Day My Prince Will Come"—centered on drummer Nate Wood's solid, rock-inflected, percussion—was original and impressive. His own compositions, such as "The Legend Of The Moon," gained some extra dynamic from the added bass and drums but despite some powerful and inventive percussion from Wood the trio never really caught fire and Hamasyan's brief beatboxing performance was rather repetitive.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center Live Reviews Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center
by Geoff Anderson
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Vorcza at Nectar's Live Reviews Vorcza at Nectar's
by Doug Collette
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Rossano Sportiello Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews Rossano Sportiello Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms Live Reviews Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms
by Martin Longley
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Miles From India at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Miles From India at SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano" Live Reviews Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano
by Keith Henry Brown
Published: January 13, 2018
Read "John Handy Tribute At SFJAZZ" Live Reviews John Handy Tribute At SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017" Live Reviews Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory" Live Reviews We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory
by Josef Woodard
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "The Comet Is Coming at Black Box" Live Reviews The Comet Is Coming at Black Box
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 8, 2017