The album that emerged from the pandemic and made jazz pianist Albert Sanz sing with the ‘crooner’ Javier Botella | Culture

The pianist Albert Sanz and the 'crooner' Javier Botella at the Westin hotel in Valencia.
The pianist Albert Sanz and the ‘crooner’ Javier Botella at the Westin hotel in Valencia.Monica Torres

Albert Sanz, 43, was born into a very musical family. His mother, Mamen García, is a singer, actress and composer, and his father, Josep Sanz, a conductor and performer. The Valencian pianist grew up in that environment, who at the age of 20 published an album, From d’here, together with the Catalan bassist David Mengual, considered the best jazz album in Spain in 1998 by specialized critics. Then he has recorded many others, such as the outstanding what will it be with drummer Al Foster (Miles Davis) and double bass player Javier Colina (Bebo Valdés), and has developed an intense career as a composer and musician always associated with the piano. Now, this professor from the Valencian branch of Berklee College has also started singing (without stopping playing the piano). He already made his first steps when he was just a teenager, when he accompanied his mother on cruises through the North Seas and the Caribbean in which she acted as a member of the popular Valencian band Patxinguer Z.

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And he has started to sing for a proposal by Javier Botella. This 54-year-old Valencian jazz singer also became fond of music as a child, listening to the Frank Sinatra songs played by his father, but his life journey is very different from that of Sanz. As a young man he was road manager by Miguel Bosé through his friend Toni Cantó, but his incipient career in the world of music was cut short when he returned to Valencia to take over the family business (a jewelry store). Then he started a successful company catering and when he entered the crisis of the 40s, he sold his businesses and his properties and started singing. His business experience helped him recruit in Madrid and make viable a jazz band that played in clubs, hotels, festivals. “I worked as an entrepreneur, but I was very clear that I had to train before going on stage and I have not stopped doing it, with classes in technique, singing …”, explains Botella. Two albums and numerous concerts guarantee his professional turn.

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Now the pandemic and the disk It never was you, which includes classic jazz and musical songs by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Kurt Weill, have united the destiny of both. Jazz singer Celia Mur, who died two years ago, took Botella to a concert where she saw the pianist sing. “I thought: it has a timbre and a way of singing that suits me,” he explains in a hotel in Valencia. crooner, so classified by his velvety whispering voice. “I saw him perform at the Cabanyal jazz festival [barrio marinero de Valencia], where I live now, and I thought I was very serious, and that you already know what musicians think of singers, “says Sanz jokingly.

And what do they think? “Jokes have always been made about jazz musicians’ mistrust of singers. There is that of a musical director who, after a concert, says to the singer: ‘What do you think if for tomorrow we do a seven by four in the second piece, and then we modulate to E flat in the fourth measure and go back to ballad …? ‘. ‘Man, that’s very difficult for me!’ He replies. ‘But you did it perfect last night!’, He replies ”, says Sanz.

Original Broadway tune

Bottle laughs. The complicity is noticeable. They have been working throughout the pandemic to record the album that they will present this Tuesday at the Olympia theater in Valencia. They chose a repertoire with great songs, most of them well known, such as Summertime (Gershwin) o Every time we say goodbye (Porter, in which Mamen García also sings), to honor the golden age of Broadway, in the search for the original melody of US musical theater and a characteristic style that have been a notable influence on jazz. “We have made this album see the light thanks to the passion that hundreds of people feel for music. We launched a campaign of crowdfunding and we carry out the promotion mainly through social networks ”, explains Botella.

Both coincide in highlighting the large number of jazz musicians in Spain. “And of a lot of quality. Just like 15 years ago, for example, if you wanted to call a bass player or double bass player, something fundamental, there were three or four, well now there are 20, and with very good attitudes and a lot of knowledge. The level has risen and I want to think that there are more fans. With so many schools, there is interest in young people. Now, a kid at 15 can decide in a conservatory that he only wants to play jazz, which is very attractive from an educational point of view, ”says Sanz.

Yes, there are still shortcomings in Spanish jazz of male voices. “There are very few,” confirms Bottle, who accepts the label of crooner if it works with the public. “I tend to run away from labels and crooner It is very American and very linked to the pose. I don’t see Javier that way and on the album his voice is that of the musical ”, says the pianist.

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