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From classroom to the concert stage, a jazz story

Ahead of their show in Bengaluru, Ram Rakshith V looks back at the success of Sant Andreu Jazz Band, a young ensemble from Barcelona
Last Updated : 16 September 2022, 18:25 IST

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In 2013, director Ramón Tort won the Best Feature Film award at the Lights. Camera. Help. festival in Texas for ‘A film about kids and music’. The story was real and inspiring, of a band of under-18 children from Barcelona sharing the stage with jazz giants like Jesee Davis and Wycliffe Gordon.

Bengalureans are in for a treat as the young and eclectic Sant Andreu Jazz Band (SAJB) is set to perform in the city.

The band comprises 23 musicians aged 10 to 21 years. They can play and sing American jazz/pop standards, including Dixieland, big band swing, bebop, Brazilian bossa nova classics, and traditional Spanish or French songs.

Over an email interaction, founder-director of SAJB Joan Chamorro recalls the journey of the band that famously arose from a music classroom. An accomplished musician, Joan is proficient in instruments ranging from bass to baritone sax.

The students of Escola Municipal de Musica de Sant Andreu school in Barcelona were studying classical music and weren’t much familiar with jazz until Joan arrived on the scene.

Joan had always loved teaching and decided to teach classic jazz to them. “I listened to many good jazz numbers and gave references of noted musicians such as Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster and Lester Yount,’’ he harks back to his teaching methodology.

Ask why he chose jazz and the 59-year-old Barcelona musician says, “It has certain elements that attract musicians, especially young people. Jazz music feels alive, and even if it is an old song, there is room for improvisation.” Jazz has around 40 sub-genres, from bop to swing to funk.

Initially, a handful of members would play recitals in classrooms, hotel lobbies and ordinary venues. Things started looking up in 2009 as they released their first live CD/DVD ‘Jazzing: Live at Casa Fuster’ featuring Andrea Motis, who started out in the class and went on to become an established Spanish jazz singer and trumpeter.

2010 was their breakthrough year. They performed at over 20 festivals including Valls, Terrassa, Girona, Barcelona, Platja d’Aro, in famous venues like El Jamboree, Palau de la Música Catalana, JazzSi, Hotel Casa Fuster, and alongside international artistes like Dick Oatts and Ken Peplowski.

Now more than 40 CDs, 12 jazzings (some of which are double, triple or quadruple) and 17 CDs from the Joan Chamorro Presenta collection are part of their discography.

“We have managed to run the band without any institution’s help. We are not receiving payment for any band member to attend classes, rehearsals and recordings, ’’ Joan signs off.

They will perform at Windmills Craftworks, Whitefield, from September 21 to 25. Details: windmills-india.com/#music

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Published 16 September 2022, 16:25 IST

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