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Chano Dominguez: Piano with 'Duende'

Guillem Vidal By

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Of course, the Andalucian didn't worry about the absence of wind instruments in his interpretation of Kind of Blue. "Music is music, and if you really have something to tell, you can tell it in many ways—with a trumpet, clarinet, piano, guitar or dancing. I have something to tell. It has been a record in which I have rediscovered myself many times and to return to that is very rewarding. Today I understand the record from a different perspective to when I first heard it. I think that I understand the philosophy more than ever, so much so that I feel more capable than ever to interpret the music through the prism of musicians that I work with today."

New York in Winter

The return of Chano to the Jazz Standard in New York in December—where his last visit in May was sponsored by the cultural festival Catalan Days, and in which he received great reviews from the media such as DownBeat and The New York Times—comes at a time in which his name rings out more than ever in the curious ears of the city. "The concerts in May, like they used to say about the flamencos in the group, seemed like a festival," Chano says. "There were even people in the streets. I remember many magical nights in New York, and this, without a doubt, was one of them."



This was in contrast to a very different experience in the early 90s when Chano lived in the same city for four months. "So I returned to the first depression that took place in my life," he confesses. "I went there like any wretch Andulucian who headed out to see what was cooking. In Spain, at that time, the jazz musicians were beginning to do things, we had a status, but when I saw the magnificent musicians in New York doing it without being properly paid, I suddenly felt very small. However, it was also a great realization for me. What I learned was very useful in encouraging me to raise the bar pianistically."



Chano's alliance with Wynton Marsalis from 2003 until today has served, among other things as another approach to being in New York—where Chano played as much in the old Lincoln Center building as the new. "At first, my union with Wynton seemed unnatural, but I can assure [you] that, with time, it has come to be very natural," he says. "In 2003 it was quite hard. I had music, prepared by pianist and arranger Lluís Vidal, that Wynton and his musicians found hard to understand. This matter, that could not be any other way with musicians as good as them, has evolved, and today their understanding of the key parts of flamenco is very important. The suite was recorded this past summer, and I hope to be able to deliver to Wynton another couple of pieces this December at The Standard."

The First Flamenco Pianists

Of course, this is not the only project that Chano has been involved with in the last months. We first talked about his recently completed work with his flamenco quartet, which makes a promising approach to the work of the classic Spanish artists Falla, Albéniz, Enric Granados and Frederic Mompou. "I have realized that I can be inspired by their harmonies and beautiful melodies of the flamenco piano," he says. "I believe that they are the first flamenco pianists. And what flamenco pianists! There were able to transfer their complete understanding of popular music to the intelligence and wisdom of classical piano. I feel like this was outstanding work that I had with the classical piano, in which I am a beginner. The record, halfway between classical piano, flamenco piano and jazz piano, is a type of homage to the music that each one has offered to us all. If all goes well, the new album will be released in the spring of 2010."



As a child, in Cádiz, Chano was a small boy who played between the legs of his father while he listened to the huge pile of flamenco records in his father's collection. Today, at forty-nine years old, Chano draws links among an impressive range of sounds in a way that only he could do. At the end of the day, he is one of the few musicians able to offer a particular flamenco view of Kind of Blue with the absolute certainty that it will not cause any atrocity. He is a musician with something important to say.


Selected Discography

Various Artists, Flamenco Jazz (Fremeux, 2007)
Chano Domínguez, New Flamenco Sound (Universal Spain, 2006)
Martirio & Chano Domínguez, Acoplados (Sunnyside, 2006)

Chano Domínguez, Con Alma (Venus, 2004)
Chano Domínguez, Acercate Más (Karonte, 2005)
Chano Domínguez, Chano (Karonte, 2005)
Chano Domínguez, Imán (Sunnyside, 2003)
Chano Domínguez, Oye Cómo Viene (Sunnyside, 2003)
Chano Domínguez, Hecho a Mano (Sunnyside, 2002)
Chano Domínguez, Tú No Sospechas (Karonte, 2001)

Photo Credits:

Ricard Cugat

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