I was first introduced to Ignasi Terraza by author, historian and legend, Maxine Gordon in Paris at Duc des Lombards. He had captivated her previously when he performed in Barcelona as part of a tribute to Dexter Gordon. If Maxine Gordon recommends someone, you sit up and take notice and within seconds of Ignasi beginning his set, you could see why. His profound relationship with music and the emotion he pours into the keys forms a connection that is both exhilarating and tender. A formidable pianist and composer, he has embedded his classical training with the freedom and explorative love he has for Jazz and in particular, swing. An impressive discography, with 24 albums as a leader, 32 as a sideman and at least 8 other collaborative recording projects, you might wonder what he would bring that is fresh and exciting. As Ignasi explains ‘I think as time passes, I feel more and more connected to my instrument. It is like a continuation of my mind and I feel I can express myself’
The title alone brings with it a multitude of reflections and visuals. Comfort and excitement. Honesty and respect. Exhilarating new areas to explore while reminiscing over the old. Ignasi Terraza explores the ambience of intimacy through musical conversations with some of his long-time friends and collaborators – Andrea Motis on trumpet, Scott Hamilton on saxophone and Antonio Serrano on harmonica. Recorded in three separate sessions, each conversation brings something beautiful to the table and allows us an insight into the musical chemistry between these incredible musicians. It also explores the gorgeous textures of the piano with those instruments with experienced knowledge of where they can go, pushing barriers when needed and staying safe and secure when appropriate.
Although the three sessions are blended together as a collective in the album, the ingredients of each session are worthy of exploration separately.
Our first pairing for exploration is Ignasi’s conversation with harmonica player Antonio Serrano. The texture and brilliance of the dynamics of the piano and harmonica is something rarely heard and listening to this pairing, you really do wonder why. It works beautifully. This musical marriage brings new colours to the ears through their exploration of Charlie Parker’s, ‘Confirmation’ while ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ delves into the sheer joy of playing. Composed by Argentinian’s Ariel Ramirez and lyricist and historian Félix Luna, ‘Alfonsina y el mar’ demonstrates another dimension of the chemistry of Ignasi and Antonio. The lyrics to this composition are beautifully portrayed through the interplay between the harmonica and the piano and are truly breath-taking. The original song was written as tribute to the Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storni who committed suicide in the 1930s:
‘A path just of sorrow and silence arrived,
‘Til the deep water
A path just of mute sorrows arrived
‘Til the foam’
The depth and warmth and richness of Ignasi’s playing, combined with the raw texture of the harmonica allows us to actually hear the colours of the conversation between the water and the emotions.
Saxophonist Scott Hamilton shares his colour palette through Ignasi’s arrangement of an interesting choice of standards. ‘You Call It Madness’ originally recorded in 1931, is given new light with the tender and beautifully mellow playing of both instruments enjoying the freedom of their space but equally joining as one when needed. ‘People’ and ‘Pick Yourself Up’ are light-hearted and joyful yet with moments of melancholy that allow us to hear this song with new ears. Ignasi’s original composition ‘Temps de canvis’ shines through and you can easily see why this is one of Ignasi’s favourite melodies. Smooth and voluptuous, it could easily be mistaken for a classic jazz standard. Beautifully written and played.
Ignasi has been performing with trumpet player and vocalist Andrea Motis for ten years and it is these conversations that bring an added depth of musical intimacy, familiarity and excitement. There is a stunning original composition from Ignasi, dedicated to his daughter Cristina, who he described to me as a ‘dreamer, scientist and tap dancer’. Beautifully sung in Catalan, you can visualise Cristina clearly ‘tens el ritme als teus peus i ales al teu cor’ ‘you have the rhythm in your feet and wings on your heart’ and you can only imagine how thrilled she must be to hear this song. In contrast and further demonstrating his true virtuosity and passion for the legacy of Jazz, ‘My Crazy Rhythm’ is Ignasi’s tribute to the lindy hoppers of the swing era. Created by African American communities in Harlem, New York, the Lindy Hop dance was hugely popular in the 30s and early 40s at a time when people just wanted – and needed – to let themselves go and feel free. Andrea and Ignasi show us how through this exhilarating track. The French song ‘Que reste-t-il de nos amours’ ‘What is left of our love’ shows the full spectrum of colours of this wonderful duo. We are drawn into so many different emotions; the haunting piano introduction, where Ignasi allows us into part of his world through his intimate relationship with the keys; Andrea Motis’ velvety vocals develop a new colour sensation for our ears and slowly transport us to a brilliant interplay between piano and trumpet.
The great Oscar Peterson said, ‘I play what I feel’, and as one of Ignasi’s biggest influences, there is more than a nod to the legend throughout the album. Ignasi has shared with us conversations that we want to be part of. He has allowed us into his world of exploration, freedom and musical intimacy and throughout the stunning album, Ignasi ‘played what he felt’ and the Jazz world is all the better for it.
CD, Digital, Vinyl