Memoria Uno at Sala Fènix – 22nd Sep ’15

12039277_1081678435178133_5120764108414197885_nOriol Roca (drums)
Àlex Reviriego (bass)
Míriam Fèlix (cello)
El Pricto (alto saxophone, clarinet)
Marcel·lí Bayer (bass clarinet)
Jordi Santanach (bass clarinet, flute)
Oriol Fontclara (baritone saxophone)
Tom Chant (tenor saxophone)
Sònia Sánchez (dance)
Iván González (conduction)

It’s a pleasure to be back here after the summer with the latest version of Memoria Uno. Just eight musicians this time plus the visceral interpretations of Sònia Sánchez, and as ever, the hands of Iván González are directing the proceedings.

With this ‘stripped-down’ incarnation, the evening’s theme seems to be combinations, as we’re treated to a succession of duos and trios and so forth; put another way, Maestro González is experimenting/playing with his ingredients!

Early on, we have bass, dance and Bayer’s bass clarinet creating an almost minimalist percussive meditation. A little later, it’s Fèlix and Chant in a jagged duet, all corners and spikes (is it just me, or does this environment seem to spur Tom Chant to greater extremities of improvisatory madness than usual?) As the second extended piece begins, we’re treated to a beguiling flute melody from Santanach; followed later by the particularly beautiful combination of Fèlix’s cello and Sánchez’s feet, leaving me thinking they should perform as a duo; more of this, I would like to hear/see!

Míriam Fèlix, Sònia Sánchez, (and a mystery head) Picture courtesy of Yesenia Santibañez

Míriam Fèlix, Sònia Sánchez, (and a mystery head)
Picture courtesy of Yesenia Santibañez

Maybe it’s because fewer performers means more room for everybody, but it’s noticeable that Sònia Sánchez is ‘used’ more fully this evening. The last time she was with Memoria Uno (12th May) it was as if her dance was a strong spice, sparingly used; but tonight, she’s cued in as often as anybody else, maybe more so, and the sounds she generates from her shoes and body are an integral part of the whole improvisation.

In the spirit of more room for all, Fontclara is allowed to stretch out in a very vocal and expressive baritone sax solo that ran the gamut from langorous long-noted melody, to more fragmentary aggression, then a few Dolphy-ish touches, and finally some free jazz blowing. The solo is brought to a close when Fontclara blows a short staccato riff. González pounces like a cat and signals him to repeat it in a loop; he then cues everyone else in, raises the pitch a little, and that simple riff becomes a wall-of-sound closer to the second improvisation.

The next section demonstrates the typical Memoria Uno humour, with Roca augmenting his percussive subtleties with a dog’s squeaky toy. Further solos ensue, including a sensuous clarinet from Bayer (accompanied by Sánchez on ‘rubbed legs’!), a vein-popping alto contribution from El Pricto, a delicate tour of the kit with Roca, some sawing-the-instrument-in-half arco from Reviriego, and more delicious excess courtesy of Chant.

All in all, a particularly strong and dramatic start to the 2015-16 season. The bar has been set high. What’s next, I wonder…?