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Vitoria Suite

Vitoria Suite, as Wynton titled it, is a 12-part work, the structure inspired by the 12 measures of the blues. Marsalis uses the impulse of the blues as a foundation to jointly explore the music of two worlds and two cultures: the jazz and blues of North America and the indigenous Basque music and flamenco of Spain. Granted, there’s a lot of cultural territory in between them, such as the whole of Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, but Marsalis shows how much the two locations have common, musically if not geographically. Wynton notes that, “As outsiders, it’s not possible for us to play this music in the same way that a Spanish musician would, so instead I’ve tried to take elements of the music of the region and translate that into the sound of jazz.” Also includes a bonus “Making of” DVD

Wynton’s blog From the 2009 Vitoria Suite Recording Session
Mendizzorotza Swing – Dato Street Fiesta – Big 12

Vitoria Suite

Album Info

Ensemble JLCO with Wynton Marsalis
Release Date October 19th, 2010
Recording Date July 20-22, 2009
Record Label Emarcy
Catalogue Number B0014868-00
Formats CD, DVD, Digital Download
Genre Jazz at Lincoln Center Recordings

Album Links

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Track Listing

Track Length Preview
CD 1
Mvt. I: Big 12 - Gran Doce 8:33 Play
Mvt. II: Smooth In The Night - Suave En La Noche 5:08 Play
Mvt. III: Jason And Jasone - Jason Y Jasone 7:26 Play
Mvt. IV: Bulería El Portalón - Bulería El Portalón 8:40 Play
Mvt. V: Blood Cry - La Llamada De La Sangre 5:33 Play
Mvt. VI: Iñaki’s Decision - La Decisión De Iñaki 11:16 Play
CD 2
Mvt. VII: The Tree Of Freedom - El Árbol De La Libertad - Askatasunaren Zuhaitza 10:42 Play
Mvt. VIII: Deep Blue (From The Foam) - Profundo Lamento (Desde La Espuma) 10:38 Play
Mvt. IX: This Land And The Ocean - Esta Tierra Y El Mar 8:06 Play
Mvt. X: Dato Street Fiesta - Fiesta En La Calle Dato 7:26 Play
Mvt. XI: Basque Song - Canción Vasca - Euskal Abestia 4:44 Play
Mvt. XII: Menditzorrotza Swing - Menditzorrotza Swing 6:35 Play

Liner Notes

One thing about Wynton Marsalis: he never does anything halfway. When an old friend suggested that he write a blues, Wynton came back with a full-length suite for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Since that friend was Iñaki Añua of the Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival, the results are a major new extended work that pays tribute to a festival, a city and an entire culture.
Vitoria Suite, as Wynton titled it, is a 12-part work, the structure inspired by the 12 measures of the blues. Marsalis uses the impulse of the blues as a foundation to jointly explore the music of two worlds and two cultures: the jazz and blues of North America and the indigenous Basque music and flamenco of Spain. Granted, there’s a lot of cultural territory in between them, such as the whole of Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, but Marsalis shows how much the two locations have in common, musically if not geographically. Wynton notes that, “As outsiders, it’s not possible for us to play this music in the same way that a Spanish musician would, so instead I’ve tried to take elements of the music of the region and translate that into the sound of jazz.”

But the Suite isn’t only about American musicians experimenting with Spanish forms, it’s also about collaborating with leading
Spanish players, specifically the legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia and the brilliant pianist Chano Dominguez.
The Suite’s fourth movement, “Bulerìa El Portalòn,” which features both Paco and Chano, is a testament to the power of intercultural collaboration. It starts with the JLCO saxophones, trumpets, and trombones playing a complex Spanish rhythm, then you hear the fluid piano textures of Chano followed by the unmistakable nylon strings of Paco over that same horn section. “I told Wynton that I had always wanted to solo with a jazz big band like his,” says Paco, “and he said ‘you can use mine anytime!’”

The back and forth between the two halves of the intercontinental equation is the driving force behind all twelve movements: “Blood Cry” is highlighted by a powerful extended trumpet solo by the composer, who interjects Spanjsh-style pentatonic notes to give this tone the waiting quality of an Iberian folksinger. “Deep Blue (From The Foam)” is a contemplative piece that prominently features bassist Carlos Henriquez.
“Basque Song” derives from Wynton’s appreciation of the tradition amongst the Basque people for flowing lyrical melody; this primarily spotlights the glamour contingent of the JLCO, the reed section, featuring baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley, Ted Nash on alto, and Victor Goines playing soprano. For Wynton, “Dato Street Fiesta” brings it all back home: he notes that fiesta time in the Basque region reminded him of Mardi Gras in New Orleans; appropriately, he composed a brand-new Crescent City Second Line marching song, in a vigorous two-beat rhythm. As far as Wynton is concerned, the parade starts on Bourbon Street and ends up at the Estadio Mendizorrotza.

“Every time I hear this suite, I hear something new in it, new details, shades, and nuances,” says Paco de Lucia. “There’s hours of exploring to do in this work – hours of time,
heart, and soul, and all that emotion and sentiment. This is what being a musician is all about.”

Iñaki Añua

I was familiar with Wynton Marsalis’ music long before meeting him in person. I had attended a few of his concerts with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, with the quartet of Herbie Hancock and with his brother Branford, but our first meeting did not take place until 17 July 1987.
Wynton had been invited to perform at the Vitoria Jazz Festival, He arrived at Biarritz airport and, as soon as he got off the plane, he took a piece of paper out of his shirt pocket and said in Spanish: “Portalon, now!”

DVD trailer

Naturally, we went straight away with him & his group to this restaurant in Vitoria. Once there and while we were eating I happened to mention that exactly on that same day, twenty years ago, Coltrane had passed away and I would really like them to pay tribute to him during their concert. No sooner had I said this when the four musicians began to hum different themes from Coltrane’s repertoire.
That night, without rehearsing a single note, the quartet played a full concert of Trane’s compositions, with the exception of one single Monk encore. In addition to that the performance was from start to finish pure blues and as every music lover knows, that when an African-American jazzman wants to pay tribute to a master, the most sincere way to do it is by playing the blues.

From that moment on my admiration for Wynton grew enormously. He was able to improvise a tribute to John Coltrane in only a matter of minutes!
Five years passed before he returned to Vitoria. It was in 1992 and he performed a memorable concert with his septet. Even his most implacable critics then surrendered to the obvious quality of his musicianship. I remember that he approached me at the end and said: “This is the first place where the audience has really understood my music.”
During the last two decades, Wynton has performed many times at the Vitoria Jazz Festival, always with different formations- a duet with Ellis, on five occasions with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, with the septet, his own quartet and a quartet with Elvin Jones. And there have not only just been concerts: Wynton has given master classes for musicians, children’s concerts and even a session of “dance to swing”.

One of those visits; I ventured to suggest to him that he wrote a short blues to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the festival. While I was asking this, Wynton was smiling at my complete embarrassment at trying to be imaginative in finding arguments to convince him. Finally, with a big smile, he said, “I don’t’ know how to write short pieces, I’ll compose a suite.”

And, indeed, he did. The day of the Festival’s 25 Anniversary, Wynton played four movements of what would be the Vitoria Suite. The full version was performed in Vitoria as well, coinciding with the celebration of the Festival’s 30th anniversary and in late April 2008, the suite was played for the first time in New York City.
For the concert in New York, Wynton invited pianist Chano Dominguez to participate in the Flamenco movements.

At that time, Paco de Lucia had not yet joined the project. Wynton and Paco had previously met at the festival in Vitoria, where they shared the stage in an unforgettable evening. Given the flamenco elements of several movements of the Vitoria Suite, it was quite logical that Paco would end up participating. It is the first time these two legends have collaborated on an album.

The Vitoria Suite is a tangible demonstration that music is a universal language. It cleverly mixes jazz with traditional Basque music and flamenco. Wynton’s inspiration and intelligence- and may hours of work!- merge with Paco’s genius and naturalness, a totally committed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, playing like never before and a supremely well polished technical production- it is not surprising that the sound and recording engineers who worked on this album have won several Grammy Awards.
One can find all of the qualities in the Vitoria Suite, but there is something else that imbues each one of its movements and even surpasses the music itself: the love that Wynton has for the festival and the city. Only with such love in your heart can one compose and perform a masterpiece that equally surprises and captivates jazz lovers worldwide.

Now listening to its twelve movements (the same meter that the Blues has) the suite feels very far away from the initial “Why don’t you compose a short blues for us?”
The day before the recording, the Vitoria Jazz Festival hosted the complete performance of the suite. The headline on the national newspaper “EL PAIS” could not have been more fitting “Wynton scales the heights in Vitoria.”

Credits

SOLOISTS

CD 1

Mvt. I: Big 12 – Gran Doce
Dan Nimmer – piano
Sean Jones – trumpet
Walter Blanding – tenor sax

Mvt. II: Smooth in The Night – Suave En La Noche
Marcus Printup – Trumpet
Sherman Irby – alto sax
Joe Temperley – baritone sax
Chris Crenshaw – trombone

Mvt. III: Jason And Jasone – Jason Y Jasone
Vincent Gardner – trombone
Victor Goines – clarinet
Chris Crenshaw – trombone
Elliot Mason – trombone

Mvt. IV: Bulería El Portalón – Bulería El Portalón
Israel Suarez “El Piraña” – cajón
Blas Cordoba “El Kejio” – palmas
Tomás Moreno “Tomasito” – palmas and dance
Chano Dominguez – piano
Paco de Lucia – guitar
Ali Jackson – drums

Mvt. V: Blood Cry – La Llamada De La Sangre
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet

Mvt. VI: Iñaki’s Decision – La Decisión De Iñaki
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Ryan Kisor – trumpet
Dan Nimmer – piano
Ted Nash – flute
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet

CD 2

Mvt. VII: The Tree Of Freedom – El Árbol De La Libertad – Askatasunaren Zuhaitza
Dan Nimmer – piano
Ted Nash – soprano sax
Joe Temperley – baritone sax
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Ali Jackson – drums

Mvt. VIII: Deep Blue (From The Foam) – Profundo Lamento (Desde La Espuma)
Sherman Irby and Ted Nash (in that order) – alto saxes
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Paco de Lucia – guitar
Walter Blanding and Victor Goines (in that order) – tenor saxes

Mvt. IX: This Land And The Ocean – Esta Tierra Y El Mar
Walter Blanding – soprano sax
Ryan Kisor – trumpet
Vincent Gardner – trombone

Mvt. X: Dato Street Fiesta – Fiesta En La Calle Dato
Marcus Printup – trumpet
Victor Goines – clarinet
Chris Crenshaw – trombone

Mvt. XI: Basque Song – Canción Vasca – Euskal Abestia
Joe Temperley – baritone sax
Victor Goines – soprano sax
Sherman Irby – alto sax
Elliot Mason – trombone
Ryan Kisor – trumpet
Ted Nash – flute

Mvt. XII: Menditzorrotza Swing – Menditzorrotza Swing
Wynton Marsalis – trumpet
Dan Nimmer – piano
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Elliot Mason – trombone
Ali Jackson – drums

All songs composed by Wynton Marsalis
Produced by: Jeff Jones “The Jedi Master”
Executive producer: Iñaki Añua

MUSIC COPYISTS:
Jonathan Kelly, Geoff Burke, Kate Sain

FOR JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER:
Adrian Ellis, Laura Johnson, Ken Druker, James Grooms, Susan John, Eric D. Wright

JAZZ FESTIVAL OF VITORIA-GASTEIZ:
Inaki Anua President, Alberto Ibarrondo Director,
Jose Ramón Villar Volunteer, Nikolas Zubia Volunteer

Javier Limon, Flamenco movements’ co-producer:
Mvt. IV: Bulerìa El Portalòn – Bulerìa El Portalòn,
Mvt. VUh Deep Slue (From the Foam) – Profundo Lamento (Desde la Espuma

Fernando Diaz, Sound engineer
Pablo Medrano, Sound engineer
Roberta Rodriguez, Assistant sound engineer
Antoni Noguera, Paco de Lucia’s guitar sound engineer

Recorded at the Aula Magna of the Conservatorio de Musica “Jesus Guridi”, Vitoria-Gasteiz, July 20-22, 2009

Edited, Mixed and Mastered at World Alert Music, NYC
Joanne Levey Producer’s Assistant
Evan Manners World Alert Music Engineer
Kay Niewood, Christianna English Music Administration

Photo credits: Josu Izarra, Frank Stewart, Luis Montoya (L&P Fotografos)
Front cover concept: Gabe Benzur of Jazz at Lincoln Center

Personal and Financial Management of Wynton Marsalis
The Management Ark
Edward C. Arrendell II, President

Special thanks to:
Lisa Schiff Chairman of the Board
The Board of Directors and staff of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Inc.,
Genevieve S. Stewart, Jono Gasparro, Marina Albero

The Board and all volunteers of the Jazz Festival of Vitoria-Gasteiz
City Council of Vitoria-Gasteiz/Ayuntamiento de Vitoria-Gasteiz

Sidemen