Whilst jazzhead in Europe and Winter Jazz Fest in New York are two of the best-known opportunities to showcase and network in the jazz world, there are plenty of other great international events shining a light on this genre. 

Here we wanted to share an overview of the 2021 edition of Fira B in Spain, which featured performances from Yoav Eshed, Pere Bujosa Trio, Muriel Grossmann Quartet and Voodoo Children.

Jazz was one of the highlights of the 6th edition of the professional music and performing arts showcase festival of the Balearic Islands, Fira B!, held in Palma (Mallorca) between November 11 and 14, with the aim of establishing synergies and artistic collaborations between creators from all over the world. 

Almost forty musical proposals took part in this year’s Fira B! Specifically, in 2021 the festival presented a total of 38 concerts with 5 stages, divided by musical styles: pop/rock/indie, jazz, electronic, classical, world music and contemporary. 

Friday November 12 was the day designated for jazz, with performances by Yoav Eshed Duo, Blau Salvatge Ensemble, Omar Alcaide, Pere Bujosa Trio, Muriel Grossmann Quartet, Norberto Rodriguez, Highlands Project, The Voodoo Children Project. 

The showcases began with a collaboration between Yoav Eshed, an Israeli guitarist based in New York, and Mallorcan pianist Toni Vaquer. Yoav Eshed, winner of the 2013 annual Jazz Competition of Rimon, Israel and 3rd prize at the 2014 Montreux Jazz Festival Guitar Competition, has toured the world and performed with the best musicians in the New York jazz scene.

Toni Vaquer, Mallorcan pianist, conductor and arranger, has a very important career that has led him to share stages with Danilo Pérez, Wayne Shorter, Jeff Ballard, John Patitucci, among others, as well as being awarded the Duke Ellington Award for Jazz Competition for Berklee (2017) and the Dean’s List at Berklee College of Music (2015-2017).

He was the composer of the piece “The Waiting Game”, the title track of Terri Lynne Carrington’s album, nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2021.

Eshed and Vaquer, old friends from Berklee College of Music, were approached by Fira B!, in collaboration with the Windmills Festival in Turkey and CulturaBuzz Israel to do this duet, in order to show the possibilities of collaboration as a way to expand boundaries both artistically and in terms of promotion. 

MURIEL GROSSMAN

“It was one of the musical days that worked best, with performances by artists with a great international career such as Musiel Grossmann Quartet, led by Austrian saxophonist Muriel Grossmann, based in Ibiza, who presented some of her new compositions from her album Universal Code, or Pere Bujosa Trio, led by the double bass player Pere Bujosa, accompanied by two of the finest talents of the new generation of Catalan jazz: pianist Xavi Torres, semi-finalist of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Competition 2018; and drummer Joan Terol”, says Xavier Barceló, head of the music department of the Institut d’Estudis Balearics (IEB), Fira B!’s organising institution. 

Also of special relevance was the showcase of Omar Alcaide, a young guitarist who in his latest work Equxtorial fuses urban music and jazz.

Specifically, Alcaide is inspired by the agrarian culture of Equatorial Guinea, where his father’s family comes from, and Afro-American culture, always with a modern and very attractive perspective. 

The evening closed with Toni Vaquer’s Vodoo Children Project, an impressive combo that brought together thirty musicians on stage, directed by Vaquer himself.

The band performed new compositions by the pianist, written during the 2020 lockdown, a  project that has been awarded a creation grant by the IEB in 2020. This grant was also awarded to Muriel Grossmann and Pere Bujosa, who presented their compositions at Fira B!, as well as Biel Ballester and Marcos Collado. This initiative aims at accompanying the artists from the moment of creation to the internationalisation of the project.

The Fira B! programme is the result of the selection of proposals by an international jury, composed by Mark Van Schaick (Injazz), Martyna Van Niewland (Institution of Culture Katowice City of Gardens), Maria Lladó (Institut Ramón Llull), Pep Tur (Festival de Jazz d’Eivissa), Alexandra Archetti (Oslo World) and Naiara Lasa (Sala Apolo). The showcases presented are selected from an open call, together with other carefully selected proposals. 

Within the framework of the project Fira B! Labs, which focuses on the education of the artists, Fira B! included a masterclass offered by the Israeli guitarist Yoav Eshed, in collaboration with the Conservatori Superior de Música de les Illes Balears (CSMIB). The IEB, through this initiative, a prelude to many others, aims to contribute to the professional development of Balearic artists within the framework of the CSMIB jazz programme. 

Fira B!, in addition to the artistic exhibition, also includes Fira B! Pro conference, a series of talks, round tables and meetings aimed at professional musicians to grow, understand how the business works and create opportunities for artists and professionals alike. “In these meetings, several cases of collaborations between local artists and international artists were presented, which has allowed us to weave networks between different scenes, something that offers very interesting artistic and promotional possibilities”, explains Xavier Barceló.

During Fira B! meetings were held with agencies, managers, venue and festival representatives, as well as quick 7-minute meetings with a selection of industry professionals from Spain, the United States and Canada, as well as with professionals and festival representatives from Latin America. 

Fira B! is supported by Mercat de Música Viva Vic, Trovam, Focus Wales, Indie Week, European Musica Exporters Exchange, Ircam Centre Pompidou Future Echoes, Kultur LX, Wide Days, New Colossus Festival, MiRR Collectif de Musiques Creatives, Yeldegirmeni Spring Jazz Festival and the Israeli Embassy, CulturaBuzz Israel, Arts Coumcil Luxemburg and Windmills Jazz Festival.

Find out more: https://www.firab.org

 
Matt Fripp
Matt Fripp

International jazz booking agent, manager and host of Jazzfuel.
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