Half a century, two performances per day, 365 times a year. Few jazz clubs, and generally few live music venues, can boast a C.V like that of Jamboree, a venue, an institution that is part of the cultural heritage of Barcelona, of the living culture of a dynamic, restless, cosmopolitan metropolis open to the rest of the world, a musical dynamism which has been the fruit of initiatives like this great little jazz cellar on Plaça Reial, visited by global jazz legends of all times, where whole generations of local musicians have grown and are successful today on all five continents.
Jamboree is now one of the few cultural and entertainment facilities in the country with a professional structure for providing quality live jazz. Thousands of live jazz sessions, millions of tickets sold and rivers of ink used in hundreds of publications around the world dedicated to this club speak on our behalf. We are renowned for the unanimous support of the sector in Spain, the interest of programmers around the world to bring their artists to our stage and the dreams of many young musicians to shape their career within the walls of the Jamboree.
Fifty years of history of the music, the society and the culture of a city, the city of Barcelona, whose consistory has awarded Jamboree this year with the City Gold Medal. An honour that also applies to the work of the company Mas i Mas who are responsible for keeping the flame of jazz alive in this little corner dedicated to live music.
Therefore, we present you with a club which has acted as a point of reference in the sector since 1960.
Open to all schools of jazz possible
Faithful to the club’s desire to be a reference point in the sector, open to all possible schools of jazz and, therefore, to the ever-increasing number of fans of this hundred-year-old genre in Barcelona, Mas i Mas presents an assorted monthly programme with the cream of national and international jazz. Under the management of Pere Pons, it attempts to include a selection of musicians from Catalonia (60% of the total monthly programme), the rest of Europe (20%) and the United States (20%). Among the local artists included in the programme, there is a balanced combination of established figures and up and coming young artists. Jamboree is, above all a place where you can find out what’s hot both among the new generations and the best known artists. A laboratory through which fans can keep up with the latest by our artists.
With regards to the international program, first rate American artists, recognized by national and international press, are used to capture the interest of many fans.
National and international jazz
The Jamboree also features emerging figures from across the Atlantic which are often little known in our country but attract followers thanks to the historical prestige of the venue. Mas i Mas attempts to give coverage to the Jazz on offer in the rest of Europe, in countries like France, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany, helping to raise the awareness of a series of scenes that are, unfortunately, little known in Spain. The venue on Plaça Reial is not only known for creating a harmonious combination of local and foreign artists, but also for displaying a variety of styles ranging from Dixieland to avant-garde, including bop, fusion, vocal jazz, mainstream, Nu jazz, tango-jazz, flamenco-jazz and Latin jazz, without neglecting other genres with Afro-American roots like the blues and gospel.
Among the club’s regular sessions there is a performance by a tango jazz band every first Tuesday of the month. The last Wednesday of each month is reserved for the Big Time Acoustic band (B.a.b), the club’s resident big band-one of a kind in Catalonia, led by Alfons Carrascosa. Other than the monthly program we should also mention the Barcelona Jazz Competition which, every summer, for three nights, gathers contendants from all around Spain looking to crown themselves as the great up-and-coming talent of the season, and holds special sessions such as the end of course concert by the jazz section of the Liceu Conservatory. During the Mas i Mas Festival, the Jamboree becomes one of the epicentres of the contest, with an ambitious line-up full of first-rate national and international stars.
Recent seasons have included performances by Jerry Bergonzi, The Fringe, Mina Agossi, Freedom Jazz Quintet, Brian Auger, Jesse Davis, Dick Oats, Yarom Herman, Nasheet Waits, Christian Scott, Al Foster, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner, Jordi Rossy, Perico Sambeat, Horacio Fumero, Albert Bover, Gorka Benitez and Giulia Valle, among many others.
A gold medal
On the 2nd of February 2010, the Jamboree received important recognition for its long life devoted to jazz. The Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu gave the Gold Medal for Artistic Merit to Mas i Mas for management of the club on Plaça Reial, stressing the importance of a daily programme that acts as an loud speaker through which musicians of the city and international artists can experiment with the public.
It also applauded Jamboree’s contribution towards putting Barcelona alongside other cities that are making the jazz world progress every single day, thanks to a high standard programme ranging from the most traditional to fusion with other genres and innovative ideas such as the WTF Jam Sessions.
This award has been added to the other awards received by the Jamboree during its long history. In 1994 the Association of Jazz Musicians of Catalonia and the SGAE named it best jazz club for its work in support of quality music. Jamboree received the 1996 Altaveu award for the best programming of the year.
With the desire to relive this club’s most glorious moments, irrevocably linked to the evolution of jazz in recent decades, Mas i Mas have put forward a specific program focusing on the following aspects:
A series of bands created for the occasion will pay tribute to the memory of jazz greats, directly or indirectly related to the venue. So, in 2010 an ad-hoc band will be formed, made up of our emerging jazz talents -Julián Sánchez, Paco Weht and Ramon Prats, among others, that commemorate the historic recording of Ornette Coleman Free Jazz, which reaches its 50th anniversary in 2010. One or the best saxophonists on the contemporary Latin jazz scene, Jimmy Jenks, will be responsible for paying homage to the double bass player Cachaito Lopez (2-I). Five days later, the drummer Julian Vaughan will emulate the king of the kettle drums, Elvin Jones (7-I), while the artists Horacio Fumero (14-I) and Pierre Boussaguet with Ignasi Terraza (15-I) will remind us of the work by the universal Catalan Tete Montoliu.
The first rate saxophonist, Abdu Salim, will review the legacy of the legendary John Coltrane (22 and 23-I) and an equally historic guitarist Philip Catherine, will explore the legacy of Lou Bennett (29 and 30-I). Classic Jazz will also be represented in this round of tributes with the memory of the clarinettist Artie Shaw, one hundred years after his birth. This task will be in the hands of Oriol Roma, also a clarinettist. (4-II).
Three unique super bands, made up of renowned national musicians offer some of the most eagerly awaited sessions for this anniversary. One of these, The Jamboree All Stars, with Perico Sambeat, Llibert Fortuny, Albert Bover, Masa Kamaguchi and Marc Miralta, will be responsible for putting music to the official celebration of the anniversary of the Jamboree, on the 9th of January 2010 at 20.00 Another band, Fresh Sound All Stars (20-I), with Carme Canela, Gorka Benitez, Benet Palet, Masa Kamaguchi and David Xirgu, unites the cream of the renowned national artists on the well-known Fresh Sound label, that spearheaded the renewal of Catalan jazz during the ’90s. Lastly, a specific group, formed by Francesc Burrull, Josep Maria Farràs, Federico Mazzanti, Joan Albert Adrià Font and Dimitri Skidanov, The Jamboree Gold Stars (18-II), will stage a selection of music by the most respected jazz men in country, some of whom performed during the first stage of the Jamboree.
In addition to trumpeters such as Benet Palet, the anniversary of the Jamboree foresees the return to the stage of long-disappeared bands who, in their time, stirred up the Barcelona scene. As is the case with the blues trio Txell Sust & August Tharrats Blues Trio (10-I), the blues man Steve Swardt (31-I) and the funk and jazz fusion group Estamos Reunidos (11-II) that binds two of the most treasured voices in Barcelona jazz: Carme Canela and Laura Simó.
Among other international jazz totems, the New Orleans bopper Jesse Davis, (5-II), a disciple of Wynton Marsalis, will visit the club along with the very young Melissa Aldana (12-II), the latest sensation from the prestigious jazz school of Berklee College of Music, the Scandinavian Kari Ikonen (13-II), star of one of the most avant-garde European jazz scenes, Germany’s Robert Menzel (24-II), a saxophone wizard and, above all, the king of bop and smooth jazz, Donald Harrison (26 i 27-II), currently one of the most sought after saxophonists in the big apple.
The special programme for the 50th anniversary of the Jamboree also reserves a place for established local jazz stars, such as Marc Ayza, Giulia Valle, Jordi Matas, Gorka Benitez and Cristina Vilallonga and rising new talents, such as Marco Mezquida and Celeste Alías. Felix Rossy, A trumpet genius, will work with his father, Jordi Rossy, in a special concert to raise funds for a documentary on the relationship between the New York and Barcelona scenes (6-II).L Among surprises in the line up is the presence of the flamenco-jazz-fusion trio Benavent-Di Geraldo-Pardo for the first time (20-II), a super group made up of three of the pioneers of this genre.
Visits from Roy Haynes, Ronald Baker, Kenny Garrett and Ravi Coltrane are planned over the following months.
Barcelona has the honour of being the gateway to jazz in Spain. Not for nothing do the experts situate the first sessions of jazz in 1920 at the Teatre Principal on the Rambla. The Afro-American genre has had a large following in this city since the early 1920’s and, despite the obstacles of turbulent times such as the Civil War, it has survived thanks to the tireless initiative of heroic fans. During and after the war, and despite the difficulties presented by the Franco regime, there were initiatives like the Hot Club and the Jubilee Jazz Club that brought famous artists to the city and served as a platform for local musicians interested in jazz. It was Jubilee’s fervent activity in the late ’50s that led to the opening of the Jamboree.
A renowned club
In early 1960, the entrepreneur Joan Rosselló converted the bar Brindis, located at number 17 of Plaça Reial, into a jazz cellar called Jamboree, a Zulu word adopted by the scout movement which means “meeting of tribes” , proposed by the critic Javier Coma. The Jamboree was created to accommodate the Jubilee Jazz Club sessions, a pioneering entity dedicated to the most daring jazz in Barcelona at that time, and was officially opened on Saturday the 9th of January 1960, at 6 pm , with a quintet led by the pianist Tete Montoliu and Antonio Vidal (bass), Perry Robinson (clarinet), Vicho Vicencio (tenor sax) and Chip Collins (drums). From that date and up until 1968, when it closed its doors, the venue managed to put the Catalan capital on the tour map of the great international jazz stars. Although it survived at first as a club where you could hear jazz records and discussions were organized about this genre, it soon became an obligatory stop for leading U.S. musicians on tour, coming from the most renowned clubs in London, Paris, Rome or Berlin.
Figures such as Bill Coleman, Kenny Drew, Chet Baker, Ponny Poindexter, Art Farmer, Lou Bennet, Stéphane Grappelli, Kenny Clarke, Ornette Coleman and Dexter Gordon took to the stage at the club or in larger auditoriums under the organisation of the Jamboree managers. One of the most notorious of these concerts was one starring Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington at the Palau de la Musica, on the 25th of January 1966, to mark the sixth anniversary of the venue. On another occasion, the saxophonist Albert Ayler participated in a jam session when he was still unknown as a musician. Catalan jazz legends such as Francesc Miralles, Enric Ponsa, Josep Farreres, Pere Ferré, Francesc Burrull, Salvador Font “Mantequilla” or Tete Montoliu himself began their careers at the tables of the Jamboree, where they shared space with foreign musicians, such as the singer Gloria Stewart, for example, who were residents in the city or just passing through. The entrepreneur Rossello didn’t promote the creation of bands like the Jazz Brothers or the Jamboree Jazz Stars in vain, as well as memorable jam sessions that attracted fans from across the country and made the Jamboree into the “best jazz club in Spain,” as stated on one of its posters.
The Jamboree did not only make an important contribution to the jazz scene in Barcelona, it also gave more life to the cultural activities on offer at the Plaça Reial and its surroundings, and was the meeting point for critics like Javier Coma and Albert Mallofré or the journalist Joan de Sagarra. On various occasions, radio sessions were recorded here. Artists, future intellectuals and even high school students congregated at the club in Barcelona making it one of the most culturally active places in the city. However, the rise of venues such as Boccaccio, and the progressive decrease of interest in jazz in favour of flamenco sessions that were offered in the neighbouring venue, Tarantos, forced the club to close in 1968. Gone was the experience of having built up a jazz club of the same calibre as the best jazz venues in Europe, having carved the path to turn Barcelona into one of the cities with the most dynamic jazz scene’s on the continent.
New times, new musicians, new experiences
In 1992, during the Olympic fever, the lawyer Javier Camara acquired the former Jamboree venue with the intention of reopening it as a jazz cellar. No sooner said than done, on the 23rd of July of that year the second Jamboree era began with the entrepreneur Joan Tordera, owner of the legendary Cova del Drac, as the programmer. One of the first milestones of this new era was the performance by the German Embryo combo and that of the very young Jordi Rossy, who has recently arrived from the United States after being a finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Awards. However, economic difficulties forced its owners to sell the place nine months later. In May 1993 the Mas i Mas group acquired ownership of the venue.
In line with the philosophy of days gone by when a jazz session was followed by a little dancing, Mas i Mas began to offer daily concerts followed by a dance session with the best black music DJs in the city. This formula, named Jazz & Dance, served to bring jazz to younger generations and covered a significant portion of the club’s expenditures. With a policy based on offering two inexpensive sessions, 1200 pesetas with a drink included in the price, Jamboree placed itself at the service of emerging jazz artists in Barcelona; musicians who mingled with the young rising stars on the New York scene in full swing. This is how, the renowned pianist Brad Mehldau came to record one of his first records in this cellar on the Plaça Reial in the company of the then very young Perico Sambeat, Jordi Rossy and Mario Rossy.
Jamboree was home to the most promising jazz men on the national scene, but also to legends like Ricard Roda, Tete Montoliu, Francesc Burrull and Lou Bennett. Musicians from the country shared posters with rising stars on the U.S jazz scene such as Mehldau, Chris Cheek, Ethan Iverson, Seamus Blake and Avishai Cohen; with stars such as Kenny Garrett, George Cables, Jesse Davis, Lonie Smith, Abdu Salim, Antonio Hart and Peter King; or with legends like Cecil Taylor, Elvin Jones, Steve Grossman and Al Foster. A team of first-rate national and international musicians unrivalled by any other jazz club in the city, and practically the rest of the state.
With programming at Jamboree managed by the Mas brothers, Aurelio Santos and Judit Llimós, Barcelona regained its status as a stronghold on the international jazz scene and its title as the jazz capital of southern Europe. Durant the 90’s, it also became the showcase for the new jazz that was being developed in this city and elsewhere in the world, music that, thanks to the Mas i Mas group’s business strategy, was followed by an ever younger audience.
Musical activity at the club was not confined to the daily programme-365 days a year – two jazz sets; it also extended to the blues, with a concert every Sunday by the resident band and, since 2001, with a jam session, called WTF!, where every Monday jazz musicians mix with hip-hop artists and electronic music, placing dozens of young hopefuls on the stage and gathering thousands of young fans, that in many cases, come into contact with jazz for the first time.
What Jamboree say…
“Barcelona was magnificent in December of ‘63. After Paris, it almost looked like a tropical city. I closed a deal to work for a month at a basement club that had been offering jazz music for some time.” Chet Baker, trumpeter and singer.
“Jamboree is the leading jazz club in Spain.” Judit Llimós, director of Modern Music at the Auditori in Barcelona.
“For those who premiere at the Jamboree, it is the same feeling as for the classical musician that premieres at Palau de la Música. When Mas i Mas put you on the Jamboree program you know it means you’ve entered the great music market where people can give you recognition. ” Manel Camp, academic director of the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC).
“Playing at the Jamboree has always been a pleasure. The musician who studies in Barcelona knows their goal: to play at Jamboree.” Alfons Carrascosa, saxophonist, conductor of the Big Acoustic band.
“Anyone who was anyone in the jazz world had passed through this venue. When a live music venue survives for fifty years, you want to hug those that run it and tell them they are the best .”Francesc Burrull, pianist, composer and arranger.
“You feel at home here, because you are meeting a group of friends.” Carme Canela, singer.
“There are international musicians that no longer play in clubs but still accept an invitation to Jamboree.” Pierre Bechet, Director of Programming for Jamboree.
“It’s an emblematic club and that many clubs in Europe would like to have.” Jordi Pujol Baulenas, Fresh Sound label editor, author of Jazz in Barcelona (Almendra Music, 2005).
“The Jamboree has a bold, quality program, which is dominated by artistic and creative influences rather than the commercial. It is very important for music schools in this country that there are places like this. They are platforms that have given a lot of life to the art and cultural life of Catalonia.” Lluís Cabrera, director of Taller de Músics.
“The moments spent at the Jamboree are priceless. This is the home of great jazz and music.” Núria Feliu, singer.
“The Jamboree was part of a European tour route and the musicians came here and then went on to Paris, London, …They were really authentic times.” Francesc Pi de la Serra, singer-songwriter.
“A year before re-opening, Jamboree opened its doors to Tete Montoliu and myself for a French movie. The fact that we were told they would reopen the following year made us feel very happy.” Miquel Jurado, music critic for El País.
“Much of his career [Tete Montoliu] had included very important moments at Jamboree. He did many things to be able to play there.” Horacio Fumero, double bass player for the Tete Montoliu trio from 1981 to 1997.
“Important musicians, such as Raynald Colom, Llibert Fortuny, Marc Ayza and José Alberto Medina have formed their careers at Jamboree… If Jamboree didn’t exist, it would have to be invented, or the level of music in Barcelona would not be where it is today.” Aurelio Santos, cultural activist, programmer for the WTF Jam Sessions.
“The Jamboree was a point of reference for me … and suddenly I was there where I had been seeing so many people for many years.” Llibert Fortuny, saxophonist.
“It’s a place where I feel like I’m in my own home. I like the stage, I like these walls, the lights … I feel very comfortable when I work here.” Laura Simó, singer.