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  Wo Barcelona
Wann Oktober 18 – Dezember 6, 2009
Website www.TheProject.es

What has kept jazz so cool for so many years? The smoky bars and dim lights or the sensual music that seems to seep straight from the artists’ souls? Every time jazz teases us into thinking its best artists are old or dead, someone like Amy Winehouse or Joss Stone reminds us that even the pokey mainstream gets jazz. Of course, this is completely generalizing the genre of jazz. Barcelona’s International Jazz Festival’s creators have taken it upon themselves to introduce new types of jazz to those not in the know. In addition to the classic jazz you may think of, there is also the more upbeat soulgrass jazz, Flamenco and Latin jazz, post rock jazz and Big Band. The festival is sponsored by the ever popular Voll-Damm beer and organized by The Project who has produced tours, concerts, shows and festivals for the likes of Santana, B.B. King, Wood Allen and Cirque de Soleil. In addition to the main festival, there is also a little brother concert series called Finestra. It is a part of the jazz fest dedicated to genres not considered “jazz,” but deemed as worthy of being a part of the festival, such as the Norwegian indie band Kings of Convenience, the Brazilian electro of CéU and Israeli pop superstar, Noa. Who knew?!

Even if you do not have your ipod filled with jazz music, you have to check out at least one of these concerts. Instead of heading out to a random bar and getting your drink on, buy a ticket for one of over 60 shows held in 15 different venues across the city. The electrifying festival runs for two weeks, so you have plenty of nights to choose from. Combine it with one of the sites on your list, such and the impressive and majestic Palau de la Música. Before the show, you can grab a drink and some pinchos at the Palau while reveling in the ambiance. Or, check out one of the hottest music clubs in Barcelona, like Luz de Gas, while seeing the sultry Irish 1950’s style crooner, Imelda May. Some other top picks are sure to be CéU at Bikini, Hot & Cool at the Harlem Jazz Club, the Aaron Parks Trio at Jamboree and Maria Schneider and Big Band at the Atrium.

Every year, the festival honors one person who has greatly influenced and contributed to the world of jazz. This year’s pick is Miles Davis, the legendary American trumpeter, bandleader and composer, along with his 50 year old record, Kind of Blue. Amazingly, the record is still selling off the shelves and considered one of the best music accomplishments of all time. There are performances and commissioned pieces dedicated to Miles’ work. Jimmy Cobb, who will perform at the Palau, played the drums on Miles’ Kind of Blue album and is the last living person who worked on the record. Omar Sosa will entertain crowds with his commissioned “Afro-Cuban” version of Kind of Blue and the Chano Dominguez Quintet will bring their flamenco interpretation of the record. Marcus Miller, who co-composed the famous 1986 album Tutu with Miles, will also play at the Palau. Tutu is an album in tribute of Desmond Tutu, the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa and references people such as Nelson Mandela and others. Rounding up the Miles Davis dedications, Wayne Shorter and the Wayne Shorter Quartet will perform at L´Auditori. Shorter was a member of the Miles Davis Quintet and played at Barcelona’s second International Jazz Festival in 1967. Miles was supposed to play with his quintet, but for some reason left before the show started. When the curtain opened, The Wayne Shorter Quartet played instead and thrilled the audience! Shorter will receive this year’s Gold Medal Award for his impact on Jazz history and for the work be still does today with his quartet. The award will be presented after his performance on October 28th.

Barcelona is one of the places live jazz still lives on. We know you jazz lovers will not miss this event, but for those of you who are not yet versed in this enrapturing, emotional music, find out what has kept jazz on the radio and playing in the bars for so long. For the full list of concerts and venues, visit The Project’s website at www.TheProject.es. Prices range from €10 – €54. Tickets have been on sale since July 13th, so hurry up!


Before there was Andy Warhol, there was
Please Add to and Return

  Wo MACBA, Barcelona
Wann November 6 - Januar 10
Website www.macba.es

Ray Johnson. Not many people know his name, and that is exactly how this highly influential, beyond avant-garde artist would have wanted it. He is called New York’s most famous unknown artist. But MACBA, and other modern art museums, are making sure he is not totally forgotten. For the first time in Spain, an entire exhibit is dedicated to Johnson’s works. The collection highlights his infamous collages and ingeniously wacky “mail art,” both of which bring together his fascination with the idea of chance, popular social icons, layering and the combination of words and shapes.

Ray Johnson was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927 and went on to study at Black Mountain, a progressive college in North Carolina. While studying, he became acquainted with other important avant-garde artists such as Bill de Kooing, John Cage, Richard Lippold and Merce Cunningham. In the 1940s, Johnson focused his studies in abstract painting under the tutelage of Josef Albers, albeit, he did not continue with this style of art for very long. In the 1950s, Johnson moved to New York City and became part of a well known art crowd that included the likes of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Cy Twombly. It was at this time that Johnson started exploring new ideas of how to express himself through his art. While going through this experimental phase, Johnson was also working at a small bookstore on the Lower East side where he became well versed in the Zen idea of chance. By 1955, he was in full collage mode. He was cutting up canvas, sometimes of his earlier works, and layering them with popular images, shapes (he stayed true to triangles throughout his career) and words. He rejected his abstract philosophy. There are even rumors that he burned some of his first paintings in Cy Twombly’s fireplace.
Ever the innovator, Johnson was using advertising and pop images in his works in the 1950s, where as Andy Warhol’s works, that seem to be influenced by Johnson, were a product of the 1960s. Of course Johnson needed to keep searching for other outlets though, and the next artistic invention he created was “mail art.” The name of the MACBA exhibit, Please Add to and Return, references these works. Johnson compiled an enormous mailing list, again showing how he was ahead of his time, and sent and exchanged artwork with his friends and contacts. He sent postcards, random objects or pieces of his collages. There was always a twist, one literally being his request to please add to the piece and return to him. This network started what was known as the “New York Correspondence School” whose mailings ended up reaching thousands of poets and artists all over the globe.

Even when immersed in his mail art, Johnson never stopped creating collages, or as he referred to them, chop art, instead of the media’s derived term, pop art. He would even go back and finish pieces he had “completed” years prior. Adding to the dimension of his “reworked works” are his multiple dates of completion. But, once again he searched for another way to express himself. This time it was through performances. In 1961, Johnson started his “Nothings” series, which he called happenings, in response to the works of the Allan Kaprow, the American painter and performance artist of the 1960s.

Johnson was mugged in New York City on June 3, 1968 (bizarrely enough the same day Andy Warhol was shot by Valarie Solanas). He was so affected by the mugging that he decided to move out of his beloved New York. In the coming years, while some of his friends became increasingly famous, he became more and more of a recluse and eventually would reject any requests for public exhibitions. He did continue his collage work and some staged parody performances though. Sadly, on January 13, 1995, Ray Johnson jumped off a bridge in Sag Harbor, NY to his death. Some fatalists say it was his final performance of nothing. See Ray Johnson live on at the MACBA Museum starting November 6th. His contemporary, John Cage, (who Johnson made frequent reference to) will have a simultaneous exhibit.

Copyright 2009 Grupo Imago Grupo Imago

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