Oriol Roca didn’t always know he wanted to be a musician, let alone a percussionist. There was always music at home, though. He remembers listening to classical music recordings with his grandfather at a very early age and playing Beatles tunes on a beat up guitar along with his father and brother when he was in primary school. Drums came later. So did improvised music.
In The Hague (where he graduated at The Royal Conservatoire in 2006) he learnt a few important things about himself: that he would only play the music he really wanted to play and that he could only make music with people he liked. So far he’s been able to live up to those principles. With Barcelona as his base camp Oriol is one of the most prolifics musicians of his generation. He appears in over seventy albums and has played in a large variety of contexts: jazz bands, improvised music groups, singer-songwriters, projects rooted in folklore, others in the avantgarde tradition. The one thing they share is that they all involve people who trust each other as artists and do whatever they do in the most honest manner possible.
His melodic playing and his versatility allowed him to build strong bounds with a large number of musicians from the jazz-improv and contemporary European scene. The list of collaborations is almost endless but what it all has in common is Roca’s agile and subtly surprising approach to drums and percussion.
Oriol Roca débuted as leader and composer with the album ‘Mar’ (el NEGOCITO Records 2017) a record of high emotional intensity, sometimes serene and at others volcanic, where north is always the melody, accompained by Giovanni di Domenico on piano, and Manolo Cabras on double bass.
A few notes on his taste: Oriol has great memories of opening once for Henry Threadgill, he loves listening to Frederic Mompou’s records, admires Paal-Nilssen Love’s energy and was very sad to learn Paul Motian passed away. He even confesses that he nicked one of his signature snare patterns from Björk’s beautiful “Hyperballad”.
“Perhaps it’s the restraint displayed by Roca that makes this solo album so compelling, but the forty minutes flew right by and I was sad when the album ended.” All About Jazz (USA)
“Roca enters into another complex and unpredictable series of patterns which would serve most other drummers as a solo, but here it’s simply his agile contribution to the landscape.” Dave Foxall, Jazz Journal (UK)
“Oriol Roca est un batteur doublé d’un percussionniste à la recherche de colorations nouvelles.” Claude Loxhay, Jazzaround (BE)
“I’ve been poking around drummer Oriol Roca‘s music for a couple years now, and he always finds a way to gain interest.” Dave Summer, Bird is the Worm (USA)
À l’écoute de ce magnifique trio, son jeu n’a cessé de nous renvoyer à l’un des plus grands percussionnistes qu’ait connus la free music, l’immense Barry Altschul, dont Oriol apparaît aujourd’hui comme l’évident héritier.” Focus Vif (BE)