Growing into music: jazz in Barcelona
Complementing the documentary series Growing into music (for Mali/Guinea, Cuba, Venezuela, North India, Rajasthan, Azerbaijan), I’ve offered flamenco in Andalucia as another fine instance of learning to make music (under Flamenco: a recap, note Growing into flamenco and A flamenco Christmas).
As if Barcelona wasn’t cool enough already, since 2006 the bass player Joan Chamorro has been nurturing a wealth of talent in his Sant Andreu jazz band, originally based at the Escola Musical de Musica de Sant Andreu. I heartily concur with Gary Berman’s enthusiasm and excellent introductions (here and here). Note also A film about kids and music (Ramon Tort, 2012).
The band’s repertoire (not one that teenagers necessarily take to at first: cf. Punk in Madrid) is based on the classic Great American songbook, with an impressive sideline in bossa nova. The female singers seem to have a particular aptitude; still more remarkably, they are also fine instrumentalists. This is a true ensemble, producing generations in seamless succession. By contrast with their American models, isolated divas beset by racism and heroin, this is a nourishing, supportive environment, a family; immersing themselves in the style, they delight in taking turns accompanying each other’s solos as backing singers with sumptuous close harmony (surpassing the family jazz band in Cold comfort farm…).
From the wealth of glorious musicking on Chamorro’s YouTube channel, even my modest selection below is rather extensive. We might start with this track from 2010, with an 8-year-old Alba Armengou (to be featured in my second post) joining in with her seniors—including Andrea Motis, then 14:
The site includes tracks from the two La magia de la veu [The magic of the voice] albums so far.
- Andrea Motis (trumpet)—here she is singing a blues in 2009, aged 13:
Four fabulous numbers from 2013—Meditaçao:
Moody’s Mood for love:
Chega de saudade:
and I fall in love too easily—just as moving as Chet:
- Magalí Datzira (bass)—Softly as in a morning sunrise:
What a little moonlight can do:
On the Sentimental Side:
Night and day:
- Rita Payés (trombone)—I can’t get started:
Flor de lis:
- Eva Fernández (sax)—These foolish things (also worthy of Chet, and Billie):
In ensemble, here’s How high the moon, with the Fab Four together in 2017—Rita Payés, with Andrea Motis, Eva Fernández, and Magalí Datzira:
The singers featured on the second CD are the subject of another post…
While the production values of these videos are classy, I feel the point here is about young people learning to engage in musicking joyfully together. Whether or not such brilliant young performers go on to take up music as a profession, it’s inspiring to see how potential, and the spirit of ensemble, can be nurtured.
Going back still earlier in formative music education, don’t miss Oxana Thaili directing her Mexican kindergarten band at the end of this post on the art of conducting! See also jazz tag; and for a Catalan shawm band, see Wind, ethnicity, gender.