Nit Discordian at Cafè del Conservatori del Liceu – 29 Nov ’14

Part of the Voll Damm 46th Barcelona International Jazz Festival, this was a night showcasing two bands / groups / collaborative endeavours from local record label Discordian.

MUT Trio
Miguel Fernández (tenor saxophone)
Albert Juan (el. guitar)
Oriol Roca (drums)

A few years ago, I reviewed (favourably!) an album by the Miguel Fernández Quintet (“Transplanet Species”), I think it even made my Top 5 of 2011 list for Jazz Journal. I still play that disc every now and then and I was keen to finally hear MF play live and find out what he’s into these days.
The answer seems to be something a little more abstract than his Quintet fare and none the worse for it. Adjectives that occurred were: painterly, impressionistic, moaning, dissonant, minimalist – all good words and an indication that the MUT Trio were overcoming the sterile atmosphere of the venue!
MF’s sax was questing in its ebb and flow; OR’s drums were busy yet delicate, playing the ‘whole kit’ for the broadest possible sonic palette; AJ’s guitar was primarily textural and bass-heavy, adding washes of sound to the backdrop.
The verdict? A mature-sounding improvising trio eschewing the relentless blowing of clichéd free jazz in favour of something more sophisticated, transporting, and no less free-sounding. (Some nice pics of the gig were taken by Joan Cortès Benages and Elena Márquez.)

Filthy Habits Ensemble
El Pricto (clarinet)
Don Malfon (alto saxophone)
Tom Chant (tenor saxophone)
Natsuko Sugao (trumpet)
Pau Vidal (flute)
Jo Miramontes (piano)
Àlex Reviriego (bass)
Ramon Prats (drums)

I’d been waiting to see these guys for a while too – ever since I heard that there was a local ensemble formed with the intention of performing the music of Frank Zappa. Tonight was Zappa-free sadly but instead we got a version of Stravinsky’s “Histoire du Soldat” (or, more locally, “La Historia del Soldado”) which was, quite frankly (no pun), fantastic.
Life is short and one’s cultural experiences and influences are, perforce, limited and incomplete. Until now, mine have not included Stravinsky but, on the basis of these Filthy Habits, I will be exploring the maestro’s oeuvre further. The party at the table in front of me had giggled and snorted their way through the MUT Trio (rather unfairly, I thought – philistines!), so I’m guessing they were there for the Stravinsky and judging from their nodding reactions, the FH Ensemble were clearly doing the original justice. That said, there appeared to be no shortage of inventive and fiery improvisation either: each of the frontline took it in turn to hold centre stage and solo – flute, alto, trumpet, tenor, and clarinet, in that order – and amazingly, each seemed spurred on to better whatever had gone before.
Finally, towards the end of the piece, we were treated to a little Zappa-esque conducting technique as El Pricto directed the band. Any system of signals that includes ‘metal’ devil horns just has to be admired!
So, great performance, incredibly tight (and also free) group of musicians, just one remaining request… please, please play a Zappa gig soon!?!

(Elena Márquez snapped some great pics of this set, too.)