On Saturday, August 4, the guardians of La Pedrera presided over a wonderfully atmospheric and effervescent night of jazz music, thanks to the Alternatilla Jazz Band, a quartet assembled courtesy of the Mallorca-based music festival.
The composition of the band spoke to the respective focuses of last year and this year’s Alternatilla festivals. Last year’s festival had featured Norwegian musicians like saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg, whose memorable conjugations of melody at Casa Milà recalled those of Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins. This year’s festival will feature Polish musicians like pianist Pawel Tomaszewski, who delighted the Milà crowd with a wide-ranging approach that drew from funk, straight-ahead bebop, and classical vocabularies. Rounding out the quartet were two musicians from Mallorca — bassist Pete Bujosa and drummer Teo Salva, whose simpatico interplay energized the ensemble from start to finish.
Though the set featured a few standards, including a tender “My Funny Valentine” and a calypso-flavored “Green Dolphin Street” (a song whose Polish-American composer was flagged by Tomaszewski), the real highlights were three songs composed by the members of the quartet. Bassist Bujosa’s composition launched with a long rubato solo that quoted Charles Mingus’s “Haitian Fight Song,” then brought together the ensemble in a piece that, despite its minor mode, churned with a happily off-kilter energy. Pianist Tomaszewski offered a “song of longing,” whose crystalline, hymnal-like harmonies cast a lingering spell over the audience. And saxophonist Paulsberg led the group through the calypso-shaped romp of “Catalan Boy,” whose twisty modulations never disrupted the essential buoyancy of the tune.
Paulsberg testified, in the middle of the show, that the concert was “one of the most spectacular engagements any of us have played.” And for those lucky enough to be in the audience of the show, it’s fair to say that the feeling was mutual. Anyone with an interest in cool-yet-fiery jazz should consider heading to Mallorca to catch these players in another evocative setting.
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