Unfamiliar combinations in music can lead to surprising, captivating results. At the “Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic” concert in October 2014, series curator Siggi Loch presented Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius in a new and unexpected role: as second guitarist alongside the undisputed master of flamenco nuevo, Gerardo Núñez. The combination of Wakenius and Núñez has succeeded in sending the Jazzpaña project off into a wholly new direction. The Tagesspiegel described the occasion as a “mighty fiesta.” Sparks definitely flew, Núñez had an appetite for more of the same, and he invited his Swedish colleague straight back to Madrid for the re-match.
Ludwig Minkus’s Don Quixote has held a place in the repertoire since its premiere at the Bolshoi Theater in 1869. The music is charming and well orchestrated, but persistently a little bland. There are plenty of melodies, but none of them are particularly distinctive. This is certainly not Tchaikovsky or Prokofiev. The poor boy meets rich girl love story interwoven with the fantastic adventures of Don Quixote has attracted the biggest names in ballet over the years, with Marius Petipa’s original classical production being followed by Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and George Balanchine. Now, it is Carlos Acosta’s turn. His choreography is based on Petipa, but he has modernized it with his trademark physicality, and some new unclassical sounds (clapping, vocal exclamations) from the corps de ballet on stage.
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Jazzpana II assembles an equally stellar ensemble, with a heavier emphasis on the flamenco contingent. This is led by performer/composers Gerardo Nunez (flamenco guitar) and Chano Dominguez (Grotrian Steinweg piano), and filled out with Esperanza Fernandez (vocals on one track), Jorge Pardo (soprano sax), Carles Benavent (electric bass), Renauld Garcia-Fons (five-string acoustic upright bass), Tino Di Geraldo (drums) and Cepillo (cajon). The Jazz counterpart is headlined by Michael Brecker (tenor sax) and Fareed Haque (electric guitar) and rounded out with Perico Sambeat (alto sax).