Jazz is global, but its most ambitious players still flock to the US to soak in its roots and prove they’re part of the scene. Tonight a Parisian septet called Fractale wraps up an eight-gig tour of the States at the Drom in the East Village, after stops in New Orleans, Cleveland and Chicago. From December 3 to 6 Spanish pianist Chano Domínguez & his Flamenco Quintet bring its commissioned “The Flamenco Side of Kind of Blue” to the Jazz Standard to assert that the Barcelona Jazz Festival (in which they premiere the work on November 12) has something to do with the Big Apple. Next February the Portland Jazz Festival explores the theme “Is Jazz Dead (Or Has It Moved To A New Address?).” But incontrovertible evidence suggests that however far the sound has spread, those who matter know where jazz calls home.
US have been instinctively way more open to Fractale music and the idea of having us perform in their clubs, whereas in France, it is a little slower for them to go for it and book us…American people (professional, the audience, local bands…) are very kind, open and welcoming. We even jammed with some of the musicians that we met, it was delightful. There are a lot of interactions; we met a lot of new people. That’s what we like about this country.
What surprised him most about the U.S.?
The fact that everything is so much bigger than in France and the warm welcome we had everywhere we went.
I have never encountered a musician playing jazz or anything like it from outside our borders who doesn’t care about acceptance here. Every jazz festival the world over wants coverage in US periodicals, inviting writers and photographers from the States to enjoy gracious hospitality so that we will bring news of their musical activities back to the people in the place where it all began. That the 41st Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival, which comprises essentially one concert a night in various venues from October 31 through November 27, sees fit to book Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Cobb, Cassandra Wilson, Joe Lovano, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Bela Fleck, Omar Sosa, Maria Schneider, Brad Mehldau, Marcus Miller, Allen Toussaint, Joel Harrison-Christian Howe, Tortoise, Chick Corea and Gary Burton as its headliners demonstrates the allure of American music and the depth that what’s so loosely called “jazz” sustains on American soil. That the Barcelona fest believes it needs to schedule Chano Dominguez and his Flamenco Quintet into a Manhattan barbeque restaurant-bar-music room in order to make a splash shows that no, jazz isn’t dead and its address is just like always.