Chucho Valdés and his band Blues Messengers; a stellar female trio with Geri Allen on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums; the latest project from Israeli bassist Avisha Cohen with a string quartet; veteran drummer Jack Dejohnette's group featuring clarinetist Don Byron; and a tribute to Gershwin by pianist Alfredo Rodríguez and the Vallès Symphony. These are some of the highlights of a month-long festival that wraps up with the premiere of a big band led by Andrea Motis and Joan Chamorro.
As in previous editions, the festival is open to other styles, including pop. In this spirit, British band Tindersticks are also on the bill, and they'll be stopping by as part of their tour celebrating 21 years of playing together.
25 years of The Project
This year is the 25th anniversary of Barcelona promoter The Project, which has been promoting the festival for as many years as well. 'Jazz has been part of our business since minuteone,' says Tito Ramoneda, co-director of The Project, which made its promotion debut in 1988 with a Chet Baker concert in the former Zeleste (now Razzmatazz).
'We will keep working on this project that brings together stars, the avant-guarde, and emerging values, and that seeks to continue being increasingly more international,' he says. So it makes sense that the Barcelona Jazz Festival is twinned with those of Newport and Umbria.
The festival's budget has been reduced by 12%, and Ramoneda says the challenge has been to keep the same standard of high quality. 'It's a terrifying time for the arts world thanks to the decline in ticket sales due to the increase in VAT from 8 to 21%, which categorizes music as a luxury product. To me this is a terrorist act by a cynical government that maintains that the measure will boost the economy.
'We're fighting the measure, because there are precedents of countries that took on similar policies and got them drawn back. In France the VAT on arts and culture has decreased and is now at 2.1%. This leaves us on an uneven playing field when it comes to hiring artists.
'It's a tax that goes against the European norm,' added Joan Anton Cararach, artistic director of the festival. 'And in Spain the prices are taxed at 10% for the SGAE [Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers], while in the UK they're taxed at 2%, and there are more than just one such society, so you can choose which you want to work with.'
Nevertheless, the promoters have done their best to not pass on the VAT increase to jazz fans in the form of higher ticket prices.