For the first week in July, the Vijazz Festival turns the town of Vilafranca del Penedès into a hub for jazz music, wine, and gastronomy.
Focused on jazz and the greats who perform it, the event also features wine and food tasting throughout the town.
Jazz and breezy summer nights might as well have been composed for each other, and with the Vijazz festival in Vilafranca del Penedès, to the south of Barcelona this is more apparent than ever.
Running from 6th-8th July, the 12th edition of the event will feature jazz double bassist Ron Carter.
Carter, a giant of jazz at 81 years old and with 6 decades of musical history, will perform with jazz piano player Donald Vega and guitar player Russel Malone with the Golden Striker Trio. If you haven’t yet seen this American musician live, chances are you’ve at least heard him – with 150 LPs, he’s been recorded over 2,000 times – the most for a jazz bass player in history.
Other jazz referents to look forward to with sax and flute player Charles Lloyd, trumpet player Avishai Cohen, and sax player Kenny Garrett. Lloyd himself will inaugurate Vijazz with his only performance in Catalonia, accompanied by The Marvels, with guitar player Bill Frisell.
The event will also feature an “electric” Saturday night lineup, including Cohen and Garret – the “heirs of Miles Davis,” as put by artistic director of Vijazz, Pere Pons. Organizers for the festival are hoping for “record attendance” for this year’s edition of the festival, following last year’s numbers of 50,000. In the words of Joan Tarrada, president of organizing entity Acadèmia Tastavins, for the 2018 Vijazz – “the sky’s the limit.”
A century of jazz
In 2017, various local names took to the stage, including Violetta Curry and the Jaume Vilaseca Trio, while legendary jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves showed off the pipes that won her three Grammy’s.
Perhaps the most-awaited performance of the festival, though, was “Jazz-The Story. Celebrating 100 years of jazz recording.” Here, the audience was taken on a “journey” through the best song in history from the genre, as defined by Pons in statements from last year.
This particular concert was put on to celebrate a century since the first jazz song was ever recorded, and performed at the 11th edition of the festival, by James Carter, Eric Alexander, Jon Faddis, Jeremy Pelt, and Steve Turre, musicians who in turn interpreted songs by the likes of Ray Charles, Art Blankey, Frank Sinatra and the Rolling Stones.
This wasn’t the only time at the event when jazz was interwoven with other genres. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, nephew of the legendary Donald Harrison, performed a repertoire connecting traditional jazz with hip-hop and funk. And, of course, no retrospective on jazz and hip-hop would be complete without the presence of the Godfather of Soul, with James Browns’ original band as headliners.
As with previous years, jazz will be paired with high-quality Catalan wine and cava. Festival-goers will be able to enjoy products from around forty cellars and winemakers from the Penedès area. And the increased amount of participants “doesn’t worry” organizers, who have big things planned for this year.