Marco Mezquida’s 2017 pearls

Marco Mezquida is currently one of the most acclaimed jazz musicians in Spain and certainly considered worldwide a talent not to be missed. Born in Menorca 30 years ago, he has already earned a privileged position through his hard work and chameleonic character. Teacher, composer, soloist, companion, he is versatile and perfectionist, a firm defender of self-exploration and self-care in music. His humility comes as a blessing, a fresh breeze of air, as he smiles with a thousand thank you’s shining out of his eyes at every single show. 2017 leaves with Mezquida having starred in two of the most exciting jazz recordings in Spain – Conexión, with flamenco guitarist Chicuelo; and Ravel’s Dreams, with drummer Aleix Tobías and cellist Martín Meléndez.

 

Conexión (connection in Spanish), published by Taller de Músics, could have been a sea of unidentifiable hints of styles. However, against all odds this brave series of conversations between a jazzy piano and a proudly and roughly flamenco guitar, fantastically accompanied by Paco de Mode’s percussion, end up being “a song”.

This is in its most literary and dreamy definition.

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A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard

Californian trumpeter and composer Ambrose Akinmusire released in 2017 his forth studio album, a live recording of an almost two-hour performance at the legendary Village Vanguard in New York. The great communication with his longtime quartet (Sam Harris/p; Harish Raghavan/b; and Justin Brown/dr), his risky compositions and an overwhelming performance put together an album that has been acclaimed as one of the best jazz recordings of the year.

 

He sounds painful and violent, then careful and quiet, moans in disgrace and possessed sneaks away, through the back door, no statement made, no discourse.

Fate.

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Cubafonía

Daymé Arocena is currently one of the most well acclaimed expressions of contemporary Cuban music. After trying piano, violin or guitar, she understood her voice was her best attribute and thus she began a career as a singer that has brought her to work with Roberto Fonseca, Jane Bunnett and Gilles Peterson, as well as many others. After her debut with Nueva Era in 2015 (see Couleurs Jazz #11 on iPad) she returned in 2017 with a completely different beat: more mature and more herself. Accompained by pianist Jorge Luis Lagarza, bassist Rafael Aldama and drummer Ruly Herrera; she writes a true love letter to her homeland and beloved island: Cuba.

 

Her voice is a force of nature. As if it spoke some hidden language or as if it had a transcendental message to spread. She covers everyone with an aura of family, she smiles stretching her lips onto white and shiny teeth that reflect almost as much light as her eyes.

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“I am ready to die”

“Look”, he said, “look among the garbage and the flowers”

“There are heroes in the seaweed”.

And then, beauty. And the question. One, two, three and eighty questions. He smiles. His eyes shine. He carries an infinite kindness. You can see it, there, on the tip of his eyelashes, on the corner of his mouth.

Wrinkles on his face. As if full of cracks.

Wrinkles like cracks.

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One take of horror vacui

Things are about to happen.

There exists a strange energy in the air. Some kind of expectation. Some sort of breath retention. As if legends were awaiting. And awaited.

There is a drum set, an electric bass, a grand piano and a set of saxophones.

Dressed in red, he carries the three saxophones. His body is reflected on the surface of the black piano, dazzling. He is dressed in red. Throwing the light into the big concert hall. The Berliner Festspiele applauds, ravishing. Him, bright. That red… that red is making a statement. The passion red, the powerful red, red the colour of blood and the colour of fight and the colour of energy, of the hottest nucleus of the sun.

Jazz is red. And blue and grey and black and green.

But very red. Continue reading →

The sax with the Mona Lisa smile

Mette Henriette Martedatter Rølvåg was sitting in a concert in Oslo. Next to her, Manfred Eicher, founder of the German record Label ECM. They started chatting. Next thing on the timeline is Mette Henriette debuting with a double-CD album under ECM’s wing.

 The Norwegian saxophonist’s career has escalated quickly, and her debut album as a leader saxophonist sounds like nothing else around it. Elegant and soft, powerful within its delicacy, it shouts directly to the bowels and she succeeds in creating a personality that is reaffirmed by her live performances. During the third day of this years edition of the Jazzfest Berlin, Henriette shares stage with a whole new formation, presented in world premiere: Henrik Nørstebø on trombone, Lavik Larsen on trumpet, Johan Lindvall on piano, Andreas Rokseth on bandoneón, Odd Hannsidal and Karin Hellqvist on violins, Bendik Foss on viola, Gregor Riddell on cello, Per Zanussi on double bass and saw and Dag Erik Knedal Andersen on drums. On Thursday the 3rd of November, at 8pm, after Julia Hülsmann’s Quartet, the light changes.

 

Ignitable, robust, powerful, raw, harsh, stripped, fresh, pointy, strong, hefty, delicate, intimate, talkative, legendary, magical, epic, ancestral, traditional, glacial, soft, meditative, controlled, curious, focused, carrying, invisible.

Invisible.

Yet it travels on the skin.

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When silence speaks (in blue)

The last day of the 53rd edition of the JazzFest Berlin, and after the journey one large dish is served on a sunny Sunday afternoon: the Karl Wilhelm Gedächnis Kirche hosts an interesting dialogue between organ and trumpet. Alexander Hawkins and Wadada Leo Smith present in this solemn environment their ‘Blue Meditation’ piece. As only a warning, the director of the festival Richard Williams, quotes Wadada, stating this is going to be “music with the breath of life”.

Murmuration.

Light is blue. Shining, powerful and bright blue. Cerulean, turquoise, cyan. It penetrates the millions of small square glasses that cover the walls of the Memorial. It comes into the big hall and illuminates the floating dust. Traveling until it hits a reflecting surface.

The most solemn journey, as it dies, hitting the big, golden sculpture of Christ that hangs. Flying, towards at the front of the church, right on the altar, flying right on the big golden cross.

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