TÀLVEG – As It Fades

AS IT FADES

Artist : Tàlveg

Release Date : May 14, 2021

Label : Bandcamp

Format : Digital LP / Tape

All music by Marcel·lí Bayer, Ferran Fages and Oriol Roca

Recorded by Vicent Pérez and Ignasi de Blas on December 15th, 2020 at W Room Studio, Barcelona

Mixed by Vicent Pérez and Marcel·lí Bayer
Mastered by Marcel·lí Bayer

Album design and Tàlveg’s logo by Josema Urós
Cover image by Martina Manyà

Produced by Tàlveg.

Go to TàLVEG

Buy album:

Barcelona based TàLVEG is a collaborative trio installed in an incessant search for new textures, chasing the light behind dark atmospheres and desolate landscapes, combining a palette of super-saturated colors with lyrical passages. The music unfolds in the form of an oratory building a narrative flow from the combinatorial possibilities that they explore as a trio.

 

As It Fades is Tàlveg’s second long play album, a 6 piece oratorio which comes after their debut album Arbori.

 

Marcel.lí Bayer: alto and baritone saxophone

Ferran Fages: electric guitar

Oriol Roca: drums

 

 

“Tàlveg is one of the most interesting new trios on the European avant-garde scene. A must purchase for anybody interested in contemporary avant-garde.”  Maciej Lewenstein (PL)

 

“Thinking that Arbori is their first full album as Tàlveg, the listener gets the feeling of urgency and importance.” Fotis Nikolakopoulos, The Free Jazz Collective, Freejazzblog.org (INT)

 

“These guys know exactly where they are and what they’re doing – they know the architecture and ambience they’re creating: the vast halls of silence illustrated by a single harmonic, the groaning bari-ous vistas, the flocks of cymbals across a distant sky, the brutal (dis)storms… They know exactly where they are. Their world. Their landscape. Created, filled, and offered with a yin/yang gesture of grace and ugliness.” Dave Foxall, ajazznoise.com (UK)

 

“The memories of the best years of Sonic Youth in New York rumble in our ears.”  Andrzej Nowak, Spontaneousmusictribune (PL)

 

“The depths of the guttural are explored. And finally everything is heading for an eruption.”  Ferdinand Dupuis-Panther, Jazzhalo.be (BE)

 

“The notes seem to come into existence only to live a life of torture and agony, flowing between realms as fluidly as luminiferous æther. The result is an entrancing and bewildering forty-minute experience you ought to live for yourselves!” Dæv Tremblay, Canthisevenbecalledmusic.com (USA)

 

“Tàlveg explores mysterious and unsettling, cinematic soundscapes, and often opt for sparse, implied gestures that leave enough space – literally – for breath and imagination.” Eyal Hareuveni, Salt-peanuts.eu (NO)

 

“They expand the musical palette without detracting from the trio’s signature sound. Because of the often restrained tension, the listening experience is an exciting one. Beautiful album.” Gert Derkx, Opduvel.com (NL)

TÀLVEG – Sens-Ses

SENS-SES

Artist : Tàlveg

Release Date : February 25, 2021

Label : Bandcamp

Format : Digital EP

All music by Marcel·lí Bayer, Ferran Fages and Oriol Roca

Recorded by Santi Careta and Adrià Serrano on December 19th and 20th, 2019 at Santa Eugènia de Relat, Spain.

Mixed by Juan R. Berbín.

Mastering and cover photography by Marcel·lí Bayer.

Album design by Josema Urós.

Produced by Tàlveg.

Go to TàLVEG

 

Buy album:

Sens-Ses is Tàlveg’s third release, the closing EP of their first trilogy (Ses-Sens/Arbori/Sens-Ses).

It features 3 duos and a closing trio also recorded during the Arbori Sessions in 2019.

 

Barcelona based TàLVEG is a collaborative trio installed in an incessant search for new textures, chasing the light behind dark atmospheres and desolate landscapes, combining a palette of super-saturated colors with lyrical passages. The music unfolds in the form of an oratory building a narrative flow from the combinatorial possibilities that they explore as a trio.

 

Marcel.lí Bayer: baritone saxophone

Ferran Fages: electric guitar

Oriol Roca: drums

 

“Tàlveg explores mysterious and unsettling, cinematic soundscapes, and often opt for sparse, implied gestures that leave enough space – literally – for breath and imagination.” Eyal Hareuveni, salt-peanuts.eu (NO)

 

“Tàlveg is about contours, about incomplete music that leaves something to the imagination. Balancing on the edge of abstraction, the musicians improvise to push boundaries, not radically but with policy. Which does not mean that musically no risks are taken. It takes a lot of guts and control to maintain the retained tension.” Gert Derkx, Opduvel.com (NL)

 

“On vous assure que le paysage improvisé/sculpté par les 3 compères est à couper le souffle.” Le Grigri (FR)

 

“One of the most interesting new trios on the European Avantgarde Scene” (Maciej Lewenstein, PL)

TÀLVEG – Arbori

ARBORI

Artist : Tàlveg

Release Date : June 27, 2020

Label : Bandcamp

Format : Digital LP

All music by Marcel·lí Bayer, Ferran Fages and Oriol Roca

Recorded by Santi Careta and Adrià Serrano on December 19th and 20th, 2019 at Santa Eugènia de Relat, Spain.

Mixed by Juan R. Berbín.

Mastering and cover photography by Marcel·lí Bayer.

Album design by Josema Urós.

Produced by Tàlveg.

Go to TàLVEG

Buy album:

Barcelona based TàLVEG is a collaborative trio installed in an incessant search for new textures, chasing the light behind dark atmospheres and desolate landscapes, combining a palette of super-saturated colors with lyrical passages. The music unfolds in the form of an oratory building a narrative flow from the combinatorial possibilities that they explore as a trio.

 

Arbori is Tàlveg’s first long play album, a 10 piece oratorio which comes after Ses-Sens, their first 4-track EP debut.

 

Marcel.lí Bayer: baritone saxophone

Ferran Fages: electric guitar

Oriol Roca: drums

 

 

“Tàlveg is one of the most interesting new trios on the European avant-garde scene. A must purchase for anybody interested in contemporary avant-garde.”  Maciej Lewenstein (PL)

 

“Thinking that Arbori is their first full album as Tàlveg, the listener gets the feeling of urgency and importance.” Fotis Nikolakopoulos, The Free Jazz Collective, Freejazzblog.org (INT)

 

“These guys know exactly where they are and what they’re doing – they know the architecture and ambience they’re creating: the vast halls of silence illustrated by a single harmonic, the groaning bari-ous vistas, the flocks of cymbals across a distant sky, the brutal (dis)storms… They know exactly where they are. Their world. Their landscape. Created, filled, and offered with a yin/yang gesture of grace and ugliness.” Dave Foxall, ajazznoise.com (UK)

 

“The memories of the best years of Sonic Youth in New York rumble in our ears.”  Andrzej Nowak, Spontaneousmusictribune (PL)

 

“The depths of the guttural are explored. And finally everything is heading for an eruption.”  Ferdinand Dupuis-Panther, Jazzhalo.be (BE)

 

“The notes seem to come into existence only to live a life of torture and agony, flowing between realms as fluidly as luminiferous æther. The result is an entrancing and bewildering forty-minute experience you ought to live for yourselves!” Dæv Tremblay, Canthisevenbecalledmusic.com (USA)

 

“Tàlveg explores mysterious and unsettling, cinematic soundscapes, and often opt for sparse, implied gestures that leave enough space – literally – for breath and imagination.” Eyal Hareuveni, Salt-peanuts.eu (NO)

 

“They expand the musical palette without detracting from the trio’s signature sound. Because of the often restrained tension, the listening experience is an exciting one. Beautiful album.” Gert Derkx, Opduvel.com (NL)

TÀLVEG – Ses-Sens

SES-SENS

Artist : Tàlveg

Release Date : June 4, 2020

Label : Bandcamp

Format : Digital EP

All music by Marcel·lí Bayer, Ferran Fages and Oriol Roca

Recorded by Santi Careta and Adrià Serrano on December 19th and 20th, 2019 at Santa Eugènia de Relat, Spain.

Mixed by Juan R. Berbín.

Mastering and cover photography by Marcel·lí Bayer.

Album design by Josema Urós.

Produced by Tàlveg.

Go to TàLVEG

 

Buy album:

Barcelona based TàLVEG is a collaborative trio installed in an incessant search for new textures, chasing the light behind dark atmospheres and desolate landscapes, combining a palette of super-saturated colors with lyrical passages. The music unfolds in the form of an oratory building a narrative flow from the combinatorial possibilities that they explore as a trio.

 

Marcel.lí Bayer: baritone saxophone

Ferran Fages: electric guitar

Oriol Roca: drums

 

 

 

“Sens-Sens is a memorable first encounter with the trio, which musically sounds as if they have known each other for years and in which each puts their individuality at the service of the common goal of making exciting improvised music that is not dominated by individual excesses but through the teamwork.” Gert Derkx, opduvel.com (NL)

 

“Tàlveg is one of the most interesting new trios on the European avant-garde scene. Their debut recording “Ses-sens” contains 4 beautifully intense and intensely beautiful short tracks and is an unquestionable revelation. A must purchase for anybody interested in contemporary avant-garde!!” Maciej Lewenstein (PL)

 

“Tàlveg explores mysterious and unsettling, cinematic soundscapes, and often opt for sparse, implied gestures that leave enough space – literally – for breath and imagination.” Eyal Hareuveni, salt-peanuts.eu (NO)

JUAN PABLO BALCAZAR – Suite Resbalosa

Suite Resbalosa

Artist : Juan Pablo Balcazar
Release Date : October 6, 2020
Label : Fresh Sound Records
Format : CD

Music composed by Juan Pablo Balcazar

Recorded at Underpool Studios, Barcelona, July 12, 2018

Mixed & Mastered by Hartosopash (Javier Rodríguez) at Metropol Studios, Madrid, November 2018

Design & Cover Art: TheLibrarian

Produced by Juan Pablo Balcazar

Executive Producer: Jordi Pujol

Buy album:

Balcazar is one of the pillars of the Barcelona jazz scene, and has proven himself not only to be a bass player of great imagination, taste and artistic integrity, but also a prolific and interesting composer. This time around his music exudes strength, skill and conviction, but also a feeling of understated melancholy that pervades the Suite.

 

For his Suite Resbalosa, Balcazar assembled a good, tightly-knit unit that delivers intimate conversations between its five members throughout the set, following the somber but gentle groove —easily recognizable, easily assimilated— from the leader’s music. The group includes two alto saxophonists, Marcel·lí Bayer and Joan Mas, pianist Antonio Mazzei from Venezuela, and drummer Oriol Roca. They achieve a kind of vital transcendence in each performance, sustaining, developing it with the strong, personal, emotionally gripping approach that is so forcibly on display in this session. The texture of each piece is warm and thick, and the moods are reflective and yearning. The ensembles are particularly striking, harmonious and rich in counterpoints, full of intriguing color changes and vigorous line movements.

 

This quintet traverses the ridges and troughs of the music with sensitive control, where each member’s skill as a soloist and improviser, the clarity and sheer musicality of their ideas, and the affinity with each other, create a cohesive ensemble sound which speaks for itself, growing through the moving eloquence of Juan Pablo Balcazar’s music and his work as a leader.

 

Text by Jordi Pujol

 

Juan Pablo Balcazar: double bass

Joan Mas: alto saxophone

Marcel·lí Bayer: alto saxophone

Antonio Mazzei: piano

Oriol Roca: drums

 

www.freshsoundrecords.com

TÀLVEG

© Roberto Domínguez
© Roberto Domínguez
© Ramon Ferrandis
© Roberto Domínguez

TàLVEG

Barcelona based TàLVEG is a collaborative trio installed in an incessant search for new textures, chasing the light behind dark atmospheres and desolate landscapes, combining a palette of super-saturated colors with lyrical passages. The music unfolds in the form of an oratory building a narrative flow from the combinatorial possibilities that they explore as a trio.

 

Tàlveg’s first long play album Arbori is a 10 piece oratorio which comes after Ses-Sens, their first 4-track EP debut. Sens-Ses is Tàlveg’s third release, the closing EP of their first trilogy (Ses-Sens/Arbori/Sens-Ses).

As It Fades is Tàlveg’s second long play album, a 6 piece oratorio released on May 14 2021 on tape and digital.

 

 

MARCEL·LÍ BAYER: baritone sax
FERRAN FAGES: electric guitar
ORIOL ROCA: drums

 

 

 

“Tàlveg is one of the most interesting new trios on the European avant-garde scene. A must purchase for anybody interested in contemporary avant-garde.”  Maciej Lewenstein (PL)

 

“Tàlveg is about contours, about incomplete music that leaves something to the imagination. Balancing on the edge of abstraction, the musicians improvise to push boundaries, not radically but with policy. Which does not mean that musically no risks are taken. It takes a lot of guts and control to maintain the retained tension.” Gert Derkx, Opduvel.com (NL)

 

“Thinking that Arbori is their first full album as Tàlveg, the listener gets the feeling of urgency and importance.” Fotis Nikolakopoulos, The Free Jazz Collective, Freejazzblog.org (INT)

 

“These guys know exactly where they are and what they’re doing – they know the architecture and ambience they’re creating: the vast halls of silence illustrated by a single harmonic, the groaning bari-ous vistas, the flocks of cymbals across a distant sky, the brutal (dis)storms… They know exactly where they are. Their world. Their landscape. Created, filled, and offered with a yin/yang gesture of grace and ugliness.” Dave Foxall, ajazznoise.com (UK)

 

“The memories of the best years of Sonic Youth in New York rumble in our ears.”  Andrzej Nowak, Spontaneousmusictribune (PL)

 

“The depths of the guttural are explored. And finally everything is heading for an eruption.”  Ferdinand Dupuis-Panther, Jazzhalo.be (BE)

 

“The notes seem to come into existence only to live a life of torture and agony, flowing between realms as fluidly as luminiferous æther. The result is an entrancing and bewildering forty-minute experience you ought to live for yourselves!” Dæv Tremblay, Canthisevenbecalledmusic.com (USA)

 

“Tàlveg explores mysterious and unsettling, cinematic soundscapes, and often opt for sparse, implied gestures that leave enough space – literally – for breath and imagination.” Eyal Hareuveni, Salt-peanuts.eu (NO)

 

“They expand the musical palette without detracting from the trio’s signature sound. Because of the often restrained tension, the listening experience is an exciting one. Beautiful album.” Gert Derkx, Opduvel.com (NL)

 

“On préfère vous prévenir que les 3 musiciens sus-cités ne dessinent ni n’installent de tracés ou de chemins dans leur musique. Ils explorent, défrichent, parfois même déboisent à coups de cris, de frottements, de grattements. Libre à vous de vous frayer un passage mais on vous assure que le paysage improvisé/sculpté par les 3 compères est à couper le souffle.” Le Grigri (FR)

 

 

Contact: talvegmusic@gmail.com

talvegmusic.bandcamp.com


 

 

 

 

ALBUMS

Os Meus Shorts

© Dani Alvarez

OS MEUS SHORTS

Os Meus Shorts, meaning “my shorts” in portuguese, is a band created by catalan guitarist and composer Nico Roig, focused on short structures of composition and improvisation. Going from 30 seconds to two minutes, the tunes covers a large variety of mind states, as little notes written in a notebook, pictures, small ideas… Os Meus Shorts is not a band, they are two, and in different countries.

 

NICO ROIG: guitar, keyboards
XAVI LLOSES: keyboards
JOACHIM BADENHORST: clarinet
MARCEL·LÍ BAYER: clarinet
ORIOL ROCA: drums, percussion

IVÁN GONZÁLEZ CONDUCTS “MEMORIA UNO”

Trumpet player Iván González gathers again 17 improvisers for a conducting session that will take place on May 12th at Sala Fènix, Barcelona. A second session after his excellent album Crisis (Discordian Records 2014).

 

Sonia Sánchez: danza
Agustí Fernández: piano
Ramón Prats y Oriol Roca: baterías
Marc Cuevas y Àlex Reviriego: contrabajos
Julián Sánchez y Pol Padrós: trompetas
Oriol Fontclara, Tom Chant, El Pricto: saxos
Marcel·lí Bayer: clarinete bajo
Aram Montagut y Frédéric Filitrae: trombones
Amaiur González: tuba
Albert Cirera: saxo y Conducción
Iván González: Conducción

 

Album notes by Agustí Fernández:

“Memoria Uno es un ensemble de músicos del cual forman parte algunos de los mejores improvisadores de la Barcelona actual bajo la batuta de Iván González.
Crisis es su primera grabación.
Medio en serio, medio en broma, podríamos decir que no podía empezar mejor esta Memoria Uno que con una buena crisis.
Pero entendida en el sentido que dan los chinos a la palabra crisis.
Crisis en chino se dice wēijī y esta palabra consiste en la unión de dos caracteres, dos sílabas: wēi y jī.
Por separado estas dos sílabas significan “peligro” (wēi) y “momento incipiente o punto crucial (jī)”.
Es decir, crisis para los chinos denota el momento en que algo empieza o cambia, con el peligro que arrastra consigo este inicio o cambio.
En esta ocasión, Crisis sería el momento en que se crea Memoria Uno y graba su primer CD, y a su vez sería el momento en el que algo cambia o está a punto de cambiar en la escena improvisadora barcelonesa. ¿Qué se encuentra uno al escuchar este CD? Tres conducciones, numeradas como 4, 5 y 8. La conducción es un método para improvisar colectivamente inventado por el músico norteamericano Lawrence D. Butch Morris (1947-2013).
Conducción, o conduction en inglés, es una palabra que resulta al combinar las palabras “conducted improvisation”, improvisación dirigida.
El método consiste en una serie de signos y señales que el director hace a los miembros de la orquesta para que estos reaccionen creando una música acorde a los deseos del director.
Como los músicos tienen bastante margen de libertad para interpretar las señales del director, el resultado está siempre abierto a la inspiración del momento.
Así pues, el director también tiene que estar abierto y receptivo a lo que los músicos le propondrán para poder continuar.
Y de esta manera se produce una especie de diálogo creativo totalmente imprevisible entre los músicos y el director.
Las conducciones son el resultado musical de este diálogo.
Las conducciones de Memoria Uno en este disco ofrecen una música que está completamente viva, llena de intensos colores, altamente energética, con mucha atención al detalle, bien dirigidas y tocadas.
En ellas se combinan la complejidad con la simplicidad, la densidad con el espacio, los tutti con los soli, el caos con la estructura, el refinamiento musical con la brutalidad de la masa sonora, las capas de sonido con la nitidez de los instrumentos solistas.
La suma de 40 imaginaciones musicales coordinadas ha dado como resultado unas conducciones impresionantes. Crisis, retomando a los chinos, es un serio primer paso hacia algo que puede llegar a ser muy interesante si goza del tiempo que necesitará para desarrollarse.
Materializa algo que estaba ahí, en el aire, y que se tenía que concretar en algún momento, unas ganas, un anhelo musical, una manera de hacer música, una visión.
El tiempo de la crisis es el de la decisión, la inteligencia y la valentía y Crisis muestra en este sentido una mutación importante en la música improvisada que se hace en Barcelona.
Un paso hacia adelante muy valiente.
Hasta hace poco la improvisación en esta ciudad se hacía con la táctica de guerra de guerrillas: un concierto aquí, un pequeño ciclo allá, un disco acullá.
Pero ya no es así, ahora hay una escena bien consolidada, conciertos y ciclos semanales, sellos apoyando en su difusión, con muchos músicos participantes de diversas procedencias y generaciones.
Y Crisis es un ejemplo superior de ello. Las fuerzas improvisadoras de Barcelona se han aliado en esta Crisis.
Bienvenida sea Memoria Uno.”

 

Martes 12 de Mayo / 21:30h at Sala Fènix 

C/ Riereta 31, Barcelona

http://discordianrecords.bandcamp.com/album/crisis

http://www.salafenix.com/musica/memoria-uno-2

Photo by Elena Márquez

MEMORIA UNO – COOK FOR BUTCH

Cook For Butch

Artist : Memoria Uno

Release Date : February 25, 2016

Label : Discordian Records

Format : CD/Digital

Recorded by Lopinski and El Pricto on October 21, 2015 at Jamboree Jazz Club, Barcelona. Mixed and mastered by Lopinski. Cover design by El Pricto. Back cover design by Aorita. Produced by Iván González and Discordian Records

Buy album:

(Left)

Valentín Murillo: flutes

Marcel·lí Bayer: alto sax, bass clarinet

Albert Cirera: tenor and soprano sax

Julián Sánchez: trumpet

Alex Reviriego: doublebass

Ramon Prats: drums

 

(Center)

Marco Mezquida: piano

 

(Right)

Oriol Fontclara: alto an baritone sax

Tom Chant: tenor and soprano sax

Pol Padrós: trumpet

Frédéric Filiatre: trombone

Marc Cuevas: doublebass

Oriol Roca: drums

 

Conducted by Iván González

Track 4 co-conducted by Albert Cirera

 

www.discordianrecords.org

DAVID MENGUAL FREE SPIRITS BIG BAND – Vertebrats

Vertebrats

Artist : David Mengual Free Spirits Big Band
Release Date : September 22, 2014
Label : Bebyne
Format : CD

Recorded by Toni París at Estudis 44.1, Girona, on May 2014
Mixed & mastered by Toni Vaquer & David Mengual at Estudis Polidor, Barcelona, on June 2014
Photography & design: Carles Roche
Produced by David Mengual

Go to DAVID MENGUAL FREE SPIRITS BIG BAND

Buy album:

Double length album, 32 songs by David Mengual, Toni Vaquer, Jordi Mestres, Oriol Roca, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

From mystery and elusiveness to an epic sense of celebration, from intimism to impressionism, David Mengual Free Spirits Big Band’s last work, Vertebrats, is a musical and visual trip of shared sounds. Built from small compositions, originals and versions, the trip converges in 6 suites born in the mind of Toni Vaquer. Vertebrats is anything but an empty name: it reminds us of a need of adaptation, of evolution, which is also a need to leave a trace, paleontological or discographical, from a body of work made by two symmetrical parts -in a certain way, this is what these suites really are. This need of evolution has become visible in live performances of the Big Band, where Julietee Louste’s dance & choreography found a fertile terrain to grow.

 

  • Alvar Monfort, Natsuko Sugao: trumpet and flugelhorn
  • Ivan Gonzalez: trumpet and French horn; Conducting in “Las crónicas de Saturno”
  • Joan Mas: alto sax
  • Miguel “Pintxo” Villar: alto and soprano sax
  • Gonzalo Levin: tenor sax and flute
  • Juan Saiz: flute (suites 3,5 and Toni Melassa)
  • Aram Montagut, Dario Garcia: trombone
  • Amaiur Gonzalez: tuba
  • Enric Peinado: guitar, cavaquinho
  • Lina Lomanto, Toni Vaquer: piano and Hammond
  • Alex Reviriego: double bass
  • Josema Martín, Oriol Roca: drums and percussion
  • Roser Farré, Maria Ibáñez: violin
  • Alicia Domínguez: viola
  • Margarida Mariño: cello
  • Marcel.lí Bayer, Jordi Santanach: clarinet
  • Pau Domenech: bass clarinet
  • Alfonso Fernandez Vargas: bassoon

 

www.bebyne.com 

Press

 

Vertrebrats awarded for Best Jazz Album of the Year by Enderrock magazine (December 2014)

 

Another thrilling session from Mengual, who always seems to make the motions of huge liftoffs and exquisite soaring a part of every one of his recordings. His newest features a series of different suites and performed by different ensembles, and the way they shift from a chamber elegance to a bop liveliness to a jazz-rock burn is a terrific series of events to follow along with. Some familiar names to this column are a part of Mengual’s group, including drummer Oriol Roca, trumpet Natsuko Sugao, saxophonist Gonzalo Levin, and clarinetists Marcel li Bayer and Pau Domenench. A good idea to go exploring Mengual’s discography, and this one is a good place to start. Dave Summer, Wondering Sound (September 2014)

 

I’ve always had a thing for the music of David Mengual.  The term “free spirits” is very applicable to his music.  No matter the size of the ensemble, it possesses a lightness and a flowing motion that I always take to.  His newest, Vertebrats, an album that incorporates both an octet and big band formation, holds true to form.  Consisting of six different suites that all snap neatly into place, Mengual displays his ability to convey an orchestral grace to music with a pop music sensibility.  With pianist Toni Vaquer given the role of arranger and, in some instances, composer, the David Mengual Free Spirits Big Band eases its way through 32 tunes, originals and interpretations, short pieces and extended, and covering the expanse of jazz, rock, and classical. The album opens with the eminent grace of “Canicas,” “En Patufet i sa lletuga” and “L’Ira del Bosc.”  All short pieces that have a lightness and flowing motion that accentuates a humble beauty.  It’s a quality that I associate most often with Mengual’s music. Not uncommon are the dramatic shifts into a sense of urgency.  This happens here with fourth track “El Resumen,” which signals the beginning of surges of intensity, bouts of dissonance and thick introspective drifts. The ensemble shifts into a new gear, starting with “Dimonis fent foguerons.”  They retain much of the intensity developed in the previous section, but now come together and focus on patient, lovely expressions of melody while taking the care to wrap them up carefully in thick, warm harmonies.  There’s no less drama than the previous section… it just coalesces where the previous section dispersed or collided. After a short interlude of a straight-ahead jazz tune (“Plaga de ratas siguiendo a flautista enfermo”) and one more of the free variety (“Las crónicas de Saturno”), the album settles back into one of orchestral grace.  And, then, typical of Mengual’s sense of adventure, this ensemble begins a medley of classic rock tunes from Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix and The Beatles, before ending the album with the New Orleans inspired “Himne.” Fun moments, beautiful moments, both, to be discovered on this enjoyable recording.  Go check it out. Dave Summer, Bird is the Worm (January 2015)

 

This is a bit of a monster. The David Mengual Free Spirits Big Band is a big Big Band—27 musicians—with impressive musical scope, mixing improvisation with written charts, original pieces with tunes by some of the best known and most respected composers of the last 300 years. Vertebrats is the band’s third album—a richly varied, ambitious recording. There’s almost 90 minutes of music across these two CDs. It’s organised into a series of six suites each of four to eight distinct tracks with individual tracks generally lasting for less than four minutes. Mengual, a Barcelona-based musician and educator, is the musical director, but arranger and pianist Toni Vaquer takes the vast majority of the writing credits.
Opening tune “Canicas” is a pretty, warm, composition featuring the horn section in aGil Evans-like arrangement. By “El Resumen” the tempo and the tension has racked up: the emphasis remains on the horns but the dominance of the lower-register instruments beefs up the rhythm and the power.
The brief Suite No. 2 begins in more contemporary territory, with an altogether freer and more angular style showcased on “La Colonia de Formigues.” The rest of the suite is calmer, combining warm, soft-toned horn parts with Vaquer’s contrastingly brighter piano. The mood continues into the opening tunes of Suite No. 3, although things move up-tempo with the drive of “Climbing The Robles Peak.” Mengual’s “Toni Melassa” features The Octet: the (relatively) small band feel of the tune contrasts appealingly with the full-on sound of the Big Band. These early moods are repeated through Suites 4 and 5. “Plaga de Ratas Siguendo a Flautista Enfermo” is another up-tempo tune, one of the most immediately enjoyable pieces on the album as Vaquer’s piano evokes the darting and scratching of the titular rats. The energetic, prog-like “Las Cronicas de Saturno” hints at things to come in the final suite, “Free Spirits Groove” makes it clear that the band can deliver a danceable rhythm when called for. The band’s left-field side is showcased on the pretty “Teo,” which features the always welcome squeaky toys as well as the voice of an excited infant (presumably Teo?). Following on from the original compositions of the preceding five suites, “Suite No. 6″ doesn’t quite work out. It’s the Free Spirits Big Band’s take on some classic rock—includingLed Zeppelin‘s “Black Dog” and “Heartbreaker” and Jimi Hendrix‘ “Little Wing.” The band certainly compete on volume with the originals (Enric Reinado lays down suitably heavy guitar on “Heartbreaker” and tuba player Amaiur Gonzalez brings a new harmonic and rhythmical approach to “Hey Joe”), but it lacks the punch of those classic rock bands—and the vocal talents of Robert Plant or Hendrix. In the company of these rockers Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Bouree en Mi Mineur” might seem out of place, but there’s a version of this to be found on Jethro Tull‘s Stand Up (Island Records, 1969) and of all the parts of this suite it’s the one that best fits Vertebrats as a whole. Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz (January 2015)

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