Spanish multi-instrumentalist Juan José Robles has a superb new album titled In-Quietud (Restlessness). Robles uses a wide range of stringed instruments from Spain and beyond. He discusses his career and new album with World Music Central.
How and when did you start working professionally in the music world?
I decided to make my own music after several years playing for others or being part of groups. Once I recorded my first album and saw that it had very good acceptance and reviews, that is when I decided to bet on this, even if it is a “spike and shovel” and the road is not easy.
What do you think are the fundamental elements of your musical style?
Throughout my musical career, I have gone through traditional, classical, folk, blues, flamenco music … and all this has stayed with me. Perhaps that is why, those who listen to my music, think that I have generated my own language from that hodgepodge; and that is recognizable to hear it.
How has your musical expression evolved over the years?
Well, over the years my level of self-demand has grown, all my songs pass several listening filters until they definitely arrive at the studio, I carefully and meticulously select what I like and what I don’t, I eliminate it right away.
What does the title of your In-Quietud album mean?
I have lived situations and moments where I have been too restless, altered, uneasy…., And those situations have led me to a hangover that has generated a pleasant stillness; in those two states is where all the songs on this album have appeared.
It is a continuity of my previous album “Tiempo de espera” (2016), where new structures and elements appear that, as I said before, I have carefully selected. It is also a claim of instrumental music as a form of expression, with as much force as that which bears a voice. On the other hand, traditional music is one of the sources from which I drink, hence I wink at two pieces of my land, Murcia, which I really wanted.
In your In-Quietud album you play several types of stringed instruments from the guitar and lute family. Tell us about the following instruments and their differences: octavilla, Valencian guitar, tenor guitar.
The octavilla is a 12-string instrument, with 6 courses, which is located in the area that borders Castilla La Mancha with the Valencian Community; is a mainly melodic instrument and its loudness is of medium-acute timbres. The Valencian guitar has 5 strings, which are usually made of nylon, and is used to rip with chords in traditional music, being its acute sound range. The tenor guitar has 10 strings, with 5 courses, and is widely used to accompany with chords in the traditional formations of the [Spanish] peninsular southeast, such as Murcia and Almeria, and its sound range is medium.
In addition to the instruments mentioned above, you also play guitars, bouzouki, bandurria and lute. How do you decide which instrument you will use in each track? Which one do you like the most?
These four instruments are those with which I usually compose almost everything and the decision is easy, since I usually respect the instrument with which I compose the subject. And regarding tastes for an instrument, let’s say it goes through times, I currently give more attention to the bouzouki and the lute, although I never stop playing the guitar and the mandolin.
Who manufactures your string instruments?
The lute is by Diego Gallego (Murcia), the bouzouki is by Carlos do Viso (Vigo), the mandolin and octave guitar by Tomás Leal (Casasimarro, Albacete), the bandurria by Javier Rojo (Madrid) and the guitar by Juan Azorín (Molina de Segura, Murcia).
Do you keep or collect stringed instruments?
I used to collect them, but then I decided to be pragmatic and I only keep the ones I use, which add up to 12.
Would you like to play some other stringed instrument from some other region of Spain or other cultures?
Yes, my pending subject is the zanfona [hurdy gurdy], which I already had one and played it some time ago; although I got rid of it to buy a flamenco guitar. So it may be my next goal.
Do you give classes or workshops?
Yes, I teach guitar, lute, bandurria and guitar classes permanently in a popular music school; and also music workshops and traditional Murcian song with Carmen María Martínez Salazar.
Which musicians of the new generations in your area deserve the attention of root music lovers in general?
The world of traditional music around the peninsular southeast, lately is closely related to meetings of traditional formations (crews, rounds, pandas, …). These have always been formed by older people, but today there are many young people and children paying close attention to this sociocultural movement and some with great talent, where great vocals and string players stand out.
If you could bring together the musicians or groups that fascinate you most to record a record or collaborate live, who would you call?
Of course I would stay with the band that accompanies me live: Enrique González and Óscar Esteban on percussion, Pablo Orenes on double bass, Tóbal Rentero on the laúd, guitarro and dulzaina, and José Antonio Aarnoutse and Constantino López on guitars; the latter also producer of the album. And I would call singers Carles Dènia and Rocío Márquez; cavaquinho player Luis Peixoto; Diego Galaz and Jorge Arribas (Fetén Fetén) to play violin and accordion and Efrén López on zanfona.
What other projects are you working on?
I am part of Mujeres con Raíz, a group of traditional Murcian music and I am still working on an upcoming job, which we must start from now.
Guitarist Tony McManus was born in 1965 in Paisley, Scotland. He is a leading figure in contemporary Celtic music. His style is influenced by the entire Celtic diaspora – Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Galicia, Asturias, Cape Breton, Quebec – along with still further-ranging flavors, such as jazz and east European music.
His skills are also in constant demand by fellow musicians and he has featured on over 50 albums by other artists, including Kate Rusby, Alison Brown, William Jackson, Brian McNeill, Liz Doherty, Colin Reid and Catriona Macdonald, in addition to innumerable live guest appearances.
Other collaborations include his celebrated partnership with master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser. In 2005, McManus released a CD with Breton fretless bass player, Alain Genty titled Singing Sands.
German-Spanish musician Amir-John Haddad, better known as El Amir, was born in 1975 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. He moved to Spain in 1997.
El Amir is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, musical director, and producer. He‘s considered one of the best concert guitarists in today‘s Spanish scene, defined by his personality, maturity, sound and style.
El Amir has been playing flamenco guitar and the Arabic oud since he was seven years old, and has been performing on stage for 30 years. In addition to his extensive career, he has learned how to play traditional Mediterranean instruments including the Greek bouzouki and Turkish saz, being a virtuoso in all of them.
El Amir has collaborated with a long list of artists including Radio Tarifa, Chambao, Marcus Miller and Juno Reactor.
In 2010, Amir-John presented his show “From East to West,” combining all the instruments he plays, Arabic lute, Turkish saz, Greek bouzouki, flamenco guitar and the triple-necked electric guitar to expose a wide range of traditional music. A trip through several regions of the Mediterranean, through different instruments and original compositions mixed with modern and contemporary sounds, fired through effects processors.
Amir-John Haddad was part of a Madrid-based world music superband called Zoobazar. Group members included El Amir on oud and saz; La Musgaña’s fiddler, Diego Galaz on fiddle and mandolin; La Shica’s and Eliseo Parra’s drummer and percussionist, Pablo Martin Jones on drums and percussion; and the bassist of rock band GN3, Hector Tellini.
Zoobazar’s debut album, Uno (2011), was a mesmerizing journey across the musics of the Mediterranean countries, including Iberian folk music, Turkish, Balkan, Greek, Middle Eastern and North African grooves and tunes combined with rock, funk and jazz.
In 2017, Amir John Haddad played Vivaldi’s Concerto in C major for Mandolin for the first time on Greek bouzouki. The debut took place on the 6th of November at the National Auditorium of Music in Madrid accompanied by outstanding musicians from the Spanish National Orchestra.
Another project in 2017 was a collaboration with Paco de Lucia’s nephew, José María Bandera. The two guitarists performed material from Paco’s last album, Canción Andaluza, including María de la O, Señorita, I have to love you while you live, Chiquita Piconera, Romance of Valentía and Ojos Verdes, by Quintero, León and Quiroga and other great composers. The show also featured Josemi Garzón on double bass and Israel Katumba on percussion.
El Amir was one the featured solo artists of the Hans Zimmer’s Tour performing flamenco guitar, electric guitar, Greek buzuki and ukulele. “The World of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration” presents the composer’s works arranged for a live symphony orchestra. Zimmer spent months working on transforming his soundtracks into opulent concert suites. interpreting a very special selection of soundtracks from the most famous films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Gladiator, Mission Impossible, The Holiday or Madagascar.
Alex de Grassi was born February 13, 1952 in Yokosuka, Japan but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He started music on the trumpet, but at age 13, discovered the guitar and hasn’t looked back.
He studied guitar with noted teacher Bill Thrasher, jazz piano with Mark Levine and composition with William Mathieu. A Grammy Award nominee and Indie Award nominee for The Water Garden, his first recording was Turning: Turning Back, in 1978, for the fledgling Windham Hill Records, and he became one of the most popular artists on the contemporary acoustic label that would become a recording industry phenomenon.
De Grassi has played at such notable venues as the Montreux Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Belfast International Festival, Telluride, and Wolftrap. In addition to his own workshop series, Alex has taught at the National Summer Guitar Workshop, the Milwaukee Conservatory of Music, and the Omega Institute. He was the subject of a PBS concert/interview television show, and collaborated with Chilean multi-instrumentalist Quique Cruz in the band Tatamonk and with experimental guitarist G.E. Stinson.
Turning: Turning Back (Windham Hill, 1978) Slow Circle (Windham Hill, 1979) Clockwork (Windham Hill, 1981) Southern Exposure (Windham Hill, 1983) Altiplano (RCA/Novus, 1987) Deep at Night (Windham Hill, 1991) A Windham Hill Retrospective (Windham Hill, 1992) The World’s Getting Loud (Windham Hill, 1993) Beyond the Night Sky: Lullabies for Guitar (EarthBeat, 1996) Alex de Grassi’s Interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel (Northsound, 1997) Alex de Grassi’s Interpretation of James Taylor (NorthSound, 1998) The Water Garden (Tropo, 1998) Bolivian Blues Bar (Narada, 1999) Tatamonk with Quique Cruz (Tropo, 2000) Shortwave Postcard, with G.E. Stinson (Auditorium, 2001) Now & Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (33rd Street, 2003) Pure Alex de Grassi (Windham Hill, 2006)
In a career that spans more than 20 years and numerous recordings, guitarist, composer and bandleader. Frisell’s Nonesuch discography includes 16 albums, ranging from original Buster Keaton film scores to covers of music by Charles Ives, Stephen Foster, Bob Dylan and Madonna (Have a Little Faith); collaborations with Jim Keltner and Viktor Krauss (Gone, Just Like a Train and Good Dog, Happy Man); a disc of eleven jazz standards performed in duo with pianist Fred Hersch (Songs We Know); and a first-ever solo guitar album, Ghost Town.
In addition to his work as soloist and bandleader, Frisell has established himself as one of the most sought-after collaborators in contemporary music. He has contributed to the work of such diverse artists as Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, Ron Carter, Ginger Baker, Gavin Bryars, Jerry Douglas, Marianne Faithfull, Robin Holcomb, Wayne Horvitz, Paul Motian, David Sylvian, William S. Burroughs, Hal Willner and John Zorn, among others.
Bill Frisell was born in Baltimore and grew up in Denver, playing clarinet in his high school band and discovering his love for the guitar through his exposure to pop music on the radio. His great enthusiasm for the Chicago blues ‘particularly the music of B.B. King and Paul Butterfield ‘ led to his complex affinity for contemporary American music. Frisell studied at the University of Northern Colorado and at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 1978 he spent a year composing in Belgium and then moved to New York City, where he played a critical role in the foundation and widespread acceptance of the downtown new music scene. In 1989, Frisell moved to Seattle, where he continues to make his home.
Bill Frisell made a national television appearance in 1997 on Sessions at West 54th. That same year, his 1996 recording Quartet won the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, the German equivalent of a Grammy away. In 1998, Frisell’s recording Nashville won the Downbeat Critics Poll for “Album of the Year,” and in 1998 and 1999 he received both a Critics Award and an Industry Award in the category of “Best Guitarist” in the Annual Jazz Awards, sponsored by the Knitting Factory and the Jazz Journalists Association.
From 1999 through the Summer of 21 Frisell toured extensively with the New Quartet. He was also involved in a 1999 collaboration with Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, The Sweetest Punch, which was released by Universal Classics. He has been busy in recent years composing and recording music for such films as “Finding Forrester”, “Million Dollar Hotel”, “American Hollow” and “Psycho” as well as numerous stage, television and radio productions. In addition, he’s been on the road periodically with his trio featuring bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen.
In October of 21, Nonesuch released Frisell’s self-titled trio record with jazz legends Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, a reworking of a number of Frisell’s most enduring compositions along with a couple of standards. It followed the January 21 release of Blues Dream, the debut recording of Frisell’s Septet. In many ways it represented a culmination of the strands running through several of his preceding Nonesuch releases, combining the homespun lyricism of Frisell’s previous records with the expanded tonal palette and harmonic sophistication afforded by a larger group, something he has explored as far back as his first Nonesuch recording, Before We Were Born.
Frisell collaborated with visual artist Jim Woodring (album cover illustrations from Gone, Just Like a Train, and Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones) on a performance piece entitled “Mysterio Simpatico.” The event, featuring Woodring’s artwork, and Frisell’s trio music with violinist Scheinman and trumpeter Ron Miles, premiered at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn in June 22.
The Willies, Frisell’s sixteenth Nonesuch recording, was released in June, 22. Featuring Frisell on electric and acoustic guitars and loops, Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) on banjo and guitar and Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple, David Sylvian, and Wayne Horvitz’s Zony Mash) on bass, the album sets out to explore Frisell’s inimitable and modern conceptions of bluegrass and country blues. The collection features eight traditional offerings including “Cluck Old Hen” and “Cold, Cold Heart” as well as eight original compositions.
Frisell’s encounters with Malian musicians like singer and guitarist Boubacar Traore and percussionist Sidiki Camara, who has played with many of Mali’s most renowned performers, have left him eager to further explore the commonalities of African and American roots musics.
The Intercontinentals is a band Bill Frisell formed in 2001 which made its performance debut at Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival that fall. The self-titled album The Intercontinentals features the Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist and percussionist Vinicius Cantuaria; Greek-Macedonian musician Christos Govetas on ud, bouzouki and vocals; and Mali’s Sidiki Camera on percussion and vocals, as well as subsequently added musicians Greg Leisz on pedal steel and various slide guitars and violinist Jenny Scheinman. It is an album that combines Frisell’s own brand of American roots music and his inimitable improvisational style with the influences of Brazilian, Greek and Malian sounds. Frisell, in talking about this collaboration, has said, “With this group I’ve been finding all kinds of new musical connections. It’s been a challenge and an inspiration.”
In addition to Frisell’s ongoing performance and collaborative recording activities, he was honored at London’s Barbican Theatre with “An Evening with Bill Frisell”, where he performed with The Intercontinentals, plus special guests Djelimady Tounkara, the celebrated guitarist from Mali, and Eliza Carthy, the young singer and violinist from the UK.
Frisell was also commissioned to write and record a musical response to the paintings of Gerhard Richter, to accompany a book and exhibit celebrating Richter’s acclaimed 858 series. The resulting CD-length piece includes performances by Frisell with Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola) and Hank Roberts (cello). Frisell also accepted an invitation from Gerard Mortier to be Artistic Director of the “Century of Song” series as part of the Ruhr Trienniale Arts Festival in Germany for the 23/24 season.
Unspeakable (Nonesuch, 2004) featured Frisell’s long-time rhythm section of Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen, percussionist Don Alias, horn arrangements by Steven Bernstein, and Frisell’s string arrangement for the 858 strings of Jenny Scheinman, Eyvind Kang and Hank Roberts. It won a Grammy award in 2005 for Best Contemporary Jazz recording.
The double live album East/West included Frisell’s two working trios. “West” featured Bill’s trio with Viktor Krauss and Kenny Wollesen and was recorded at Yoshi’s in Oakland. “East” features Frisell’s other working trio with Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen. It was recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York City.
The album, Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian (Nonesuch), is a collaboration with two musicians whom Bill considers to be true mentors and inspirations, and represented a personal milestone for him. “To hear Paul and Ron play together was a dream come true for me. I knew they had worked together a little bit in the 6’s and was sure they would reconnect in a big way. During the sessions I was so mesmerized listening to them, most of the time I wasn’t even aware that I was playing too! I wanted the album to be live, all of us playing in a room. It was recorded quickly, with no rehearsal,”said Frisell “In high school I heard Wes Montgomery’s Bumpin’on Sunset. This was the first solo I learned to play on the guitar. The floodgates were opened and soon I was listening to Miles, Eric Dolphy, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Rollins, Herbie, Wayne, Tony, Sam Rivers, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy, etc. This music changed my life. Ron Carter is the thread that runs through all of it, since he played with all those guys. It’s awesome to think about.” He continued, “I first had the chance to meet and play with Ron on Joey Baron’s albums, Down Home and We’ll Soon Find Out. He then invited me to play on his album Orfeu. We’ve done some gigs with Joey’s band and also some duo gigs at the Blue Note Club in New York. He’s been so supportive of my music and me. I wrote a tune for him, “Ron Carter” on my Blues Dream album. The bass line has only two notes.
“Paul Motian is my musical father. There’s no way to put into just a few words the impact he has had on me. He helped me find my musical voice. In 1968, I heard him play live for the first time with Charles Lloyd’s band. So, just as I was discovering Ron’s music I also found Paul’s with Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Lennie Tristano, etc. In 1981, Paul was looking for a guitar player and Pat Metheny recommended me. Paul called and invited me to come to his apartment and play with bassist Marc Johnson. Bill Evans had recently passed away and they were reminiscing about their time spent with him. The first song we played together that day was My Man’s Gone Now.’ We’ve been playing together ever since.”
History, Mystery (Nonesuch, 2008) featured an octet of strings, horns and rhythm section with some of his closest music collaborator: Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang, (viola), Hank Roberts (cello), Ron Miles (cornet), Greg Tardy (clarinet and tenor saxophone), Tony Scherr (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums). History, Mystery featured new Frisell compositions as well as some of his arrangements of favorite pieces by other songwriters, ranging from soul pioneer Sam Cooke to jazzmen Thelonious Monk and Lee Konitz. The original compositions on the album were born from and inspired by collaborations with visual artist and fellow Seattle resident Jim Woodring.
Album producer Townsend said, “History, Mystery explores a fuller palette of orchestral colors and timbres than for any project Bill has done before. Thematic elements recur throughout the album, furthering its symphonic sensibility.”
The Best of Bill Frisell, Vol 1: Folk Songs was the first in a series of compilations, this one drawn from Frisell’s catalog spotlighting his idiosyncratic excursions into country and traditional folk. The album features an impressive lineup: Bill Frisell, electric and acoustic guitars, loops, music boxes; Viktor Krauss, bass; Jim Keltner, drums, percussion;Danny Barnes, banjo, acoustic guitar, bass harmonica, pump organ; Keith Lowe, bass; Jerry Douglas, dobro; Greg Leisz, pedal steel, lap steel, National steel guitar, mandolin, Weissenborn; Dobro, Scheerhorn resonator guitar; Wayne Horvitz, organ, piano, samples; Ry Cooder, electric and Ripley guitar; Kermit Driscoll, bass; Joey Baron, drums; David Piltch, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums, percussion.
The album Disfarmer was inspired by iconic photographer Mike Disfarmer. The multimedia project Disfarmer Project featured Frisell, lap steel guitar player Greg Leisz and violinist Jenny Scheinman, plus slides of Disfarmer’s photos, displayed on screens. The piece premiered on March 3,27, at the Wexner Center, on the campus of Ohio State University. The score was subsequently recorded in Seattle and Nashville, produced by Frisell’s longtime collaborator Lee Townsend and also featured Viktor Krauss on bass. Along with Frisell’s original compositions, he included versions of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama”and Hank Williams Sr.’s “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)”.
In his liner notes, Frisell, who took a driving trip to Heber Springs to learn more about the area where Disfarmer worked, said, “Of course I was blown away when I saw his photos for the first time and started to learn a little about his life. What a fantastic story … I kept thinking about the many other unsung and misunderstood artists who never had the recognition they deserved during their own time: Vermeer, Van Gogh, Charles Ives, Henry Darger, etc. … I try to picture what went on in Disfarmer’s mind. How did he really feel about the people in this town? What was he thinking? What did he see? We’ll never know, but as I write the music, I’d like to imagine it coming from his point of view. The sound of him looking through the lens.”
After 22 years of a productive relationship with Nonesuch Records dating from the late 1980s, Frisell signed an agreement with the Savoy Label Group. His first album for the label,Beautiful Dreamers featured a trio with Eyvind Kang on viola and Rudy Royston on drums. The repertory included Frisell originals as well as interpretations of classic songs “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, “Tea for Two”, “Goin’Out of My Head”, “Keep on the Sunnyside”and a stirring rendition of Benny Goodman’s “Benny’s Bugle”.
Frisell’s second album for Savoy Jazz,Sign of Life, with his 858 Quartet featured Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola) and Hank Roberts (cello). This time, Frisell explored chamber-group dynamics and interplay on a set of all-Frisell original material.
In 2011, Frisell pull together an ensemble consisting of Greg Leisz (guitars), Jenny Scheinman (violin), Tony Scherr (bass) and Kenny Wollesen (drums) to record his versions of the classic songs of John Lennon. A fan of the Beatles since the age of 13, Frisell was asked to put together a performance in honor of Lennon as part of a special event in Paris. The arrangements and interpretations were recorded and appear on the album titled All We Are Saying… (Savoy Jazz).
In 2018, Frisell recorded Strata, the first ever collaboration with Icelandic bassist Skúli Sverrisson. “I almost feel like I didn’t even play on this record. Compositionally, what Skúli brought is so amazing. There wasn’t anything for me to do, everything was there already. So natural for me to fall into–so effortless. What Skúli chose to play and what he wrote–he built this structure that didn’t have anything blocking me but it was holding me up the whole time. It feels like we’ve known each other longer that we have. And it feels like the start of something,” said Frisell.
Also in 2018, Frisell appeared in Lebroba, an album from drummer Andrew Cyrille.
In 2019, Frisell released Epistrophy, a collaboration with bassist Thomas Morgan, recorded at New York City’s Village Vanguard.
In Line (ECM, 1983) Rambler (ECM, 1984) Lookout for Hope (ECM, 1987) Before We Were Born (Nonesuch, 1989) Is That You? (Nonesuch, 199) Where in the World? (Nonesuch, 1991) Have a Little Faith (Nonesuch, 1992) This Land (Nonesuch, 1994) Go West: Music for the Films of Buster Keaton (Nonesuch, 1995) The High Sign/One Week: Music for the Films of Buster Keaton (Nonesuch, 1995) Live (Gramavision, 1995) Quartet (Nonesuch, 1996) Nashville (Nonesuch, 1997) Gone, Just Like a Train (Nonesuch, 1998) Good Dog, Happy Man (Nonesuch, 1999) The Sweetest Punch, The New Songs of Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach (Decca, 1999) Ghost Town (Nonesuch, 2000) Blues Dream (Nonesuch, 2001) With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones (Nonesuch, 2001) The Willies (Nonesuch, 2002) The Intercontinentals (Nonesuch, 2003) Unspeakable (Nonesuch, 2004) Richter 858 (Songlines, 2005) East/West (Nonesuch, 2005) Further East/Further West (Nonesuch, 25) Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian (Nonesuch, 26) Floratone (Blue Note, 2007) History, Mystery (Nonesuch, 2008) Disfarmer (Nonesuch, 2009) Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy Label Group, 2010) Lagrimas Mexicanas with Vinicius Cantuaria (E1 Music/Naive, 2011) Sign of Life: Music for 858 Quartet (Savoy Label Group, 2011) All We Are Saying.. Frisell Plays Lennon (Savoy Label Group, 2011) Floratone II (Savoy Jazz, 2012) Big Sur (Okeh, 2013) Guitar in the Space Age! (Okeh, 2014) When You Wish Upon a Star (Okeh, 2016) Small Town (Okeh, 2016) Music IS (Okeh, 2018), Strata, with Skúli Sverrisson (Nouvelle, 2018) Lebroba, with Andrew Cyrille (ECM, 2018) Epistrophy, with Thomas Morgan (ECM, 2019)
Spanish, born in Tangiers of Spanish parents from Andalusia on the 29th July 1955, Eduardo is the seventh son in a family of eleven, nearly all of whom are talented artists or musicians. Two of them, his brothers Jose (a painter) and Salvador (a drummer) along with Eduardo, are Internationally acclaimed and respected artists.
Niebla’s first musical encounter was with his brother’s accordion at the age of five. Three years later, his older brother Antonio gave him his first guitar. By this time the family had moved to Gerona in the Northeast of Spain.
At the age of eleven Eduardo formed his first folk/pop band Los Helios. They regularly performed in schools. In addition he made radio appearances with his sister Pilar, featuring poetry reading with flamenco guitar accompaniment. In 1966, Niebla with his brother Felix (double bass) and Salvador (drums and percussion) formed the Guevara Group. They appeared at many concerts and folk festivals throughout Catalonia.
In 1968, as a member of the new band Metafora, Eduardo had his first taste of electronic music, inspired by the works of Jimi Hendrix. They also performed in concerts and festivals throughout Spain. In 1973 he turned professional and founded the progressive symphonic rock band Atila. In addition to touring, they produced three hugely successful albums: The Beginning of the End (New Promotions), Intentions (BASF) and Reviure (EMI Odeon), composed and arranged by himself.
In 1975 Atila toured France, taking part in several exhibitions of conceptual art with the Spanish painter Jaume Xifra. Eduardo also composed, arranged and played music for the Arab Theatre of Paris. In Spain, Atila were appearing regularly at every major music festival in the country. In addition to winning various prizes and having many television appearances, they were voted one of the best groups of 1974-75 by both the Spanish public and music critics. Eduardo was voted among the seventh best guitarists in the Iberian peninsula. Atila albums are now collectors’ items.
In 1976 Eduardo became interested for the first time in performing in a duet form working with jazz guitarist Carlos Gonzalez in Seville. The duo composed pieces inspired by the works of Wes Montgomery. In 1978, Eduardo went to London and first appeared on the music scene as a studio session player.
By 1980, he had become a member of the group Mother Gong, with whom he recorded the album Fairy Tale. In the same year he was invited to Ronnie Scott’s Club to perform in a duet with free-jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill; since then they have played together on several occasions.
In 1981 Eduardo broadened his musical horizons and composed orchestral works for films and documentaries like Active Birth, RD Laing, Pablo Neruda (Madd Knipp Productions), El Gato y la Paloma (Alan Productions) etc. He also appeared as a guest artist with the writers and poets Fran Landesman, John Cooper Clarke and Mike Horovitz on various occasions. In the same year he formed a new band under his own name.
He wrote and arranged the music for their album Towards the Sun. The members of the band were both classical and jazz musicians: Salvador Niebla (drums and percussion), Judy Garratt (violin, Boston Pop Orchestra), Dennis Milner (double bass, London Philharmonic), Mark Lorraine (French horn, New York Philharmonic Orchestra), Lol Coxhill (Saxophone), Didier Malerve (Flute -Gong), Lyn Dobson (saxophone and flute ex Soft Machine) John Mackenzie (electric bass), Elise Lorraine (vocals) and Zandy Gordon (Keyboards).
In 1981, he also collaborated with the group Tapstep. In the following year, 1982, he worked with many musicians in the jazz arena with his own Niebla Quartet.
It was in 1983 that he started the very successful Eduardo Niebla Guitar Duo. In this format he found a much more prominent vehicle for his guitar expertise. Some of the releases include Light and Shade, Eurotour, Celebration, Music Without Frontiers, Poema, etc. The act was repeatedly
acclaimed the best guitar duo on the European circuit. Some of his accompanists include Bob Grant, Emilio Maya, Antonio Forcione, Pepe Justicia., Michele Cea, Dominic Grant, Victor Unukovsky, Mark Johns, Giorgio Serci.
The Eduardo Niebla Guitar Duo appeared at every major concert venue in England, Wales and Scotland as well as at every major guitar jazz festival. In London they have performed at the Barbican and the South Bank Centres, the Wigmore Hall, the Bloomsbury Theatre and the Richmond Theatre as well as the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. They also appeared at the Wembley Arena where they were guests on the Barclay James Harvest European Tour in 1983 which took them to all major European cities. The duo tours Europe every year and has made many television appearances both on regional and national television in these countries. In 1990 at the San Isidro Fiesta in Madrid, they played at the Rockodromo Arena at the close of the ceremony to an audience of 35,000 people.
Eduardo toured South Africa, performing solo concerts with great success. He took the opportunity to do some research on the music of local tribes, which inspired him to write many new compositions. The same year the Eduardo Niebla Guitar DuoO had a new recruit: Russian jazz guitarist Victor Unukovsky. This collaboration led to the recording I Can Fly Now CD (1996). In January Eduardo met the Arab ud player from Palestine Adel Salameh. Their collaboration resulted in many international appearances at concert halls and festivals. Their work can be heard on the recording Mediterraneo CD (1996).
In August 1996 the Eduardo Niebla Live! (with Wajahat Khan on sarod and Sukhvinder Singh on tablas) had a very successful tour in Spain, culminating in a new recording Magic Nights (1996). He also toured Britain with Adel Salameh, receiving very positive and warm responses. In 1997, Eduardo teamed up with gypsy singer and percussionist Paban Dasbaul, recording a set of very beautiful and traditional Indian gypsy songs, arranged and produced by himself. In the same year he recorded duets for guitar and Indian bamboo flute, featuring Deepak Ram. He also met Indian sitar virtuoso, Purvayan Chattergee, culminating in a set of new compositions and recordings.
In 1998, Eduardo Niebla Guitar Duo undertook a very intense and successful tour of Europe, presenting an electrifying program of his compositions featured on his new CD. Concert after concert he left audiences spellbound, and repeatedly received standing ovations. In the same year he also started THE EDUARDO NIEBLA EXPERIENCE, comprising tabla player (Sanjay Jhalla) and guitar accompanist, Giorgio Serci. Concerts followed in Spain and in the UK. 1999 has brought further intensive touring in Europe and Ireland as well as the UK – followed by the release of his latest CD “The Gift” this September.
Eduardo has also produced recordings for many other musicians and collaborated in countless productions that have encompassed the whole spectrum of musical styles. Artists include Belinda Carlisle, Tom Newman, Gary Grant, The Sailors and George Michael to name but a few. After all these years of dedication to composing, arranging and performing music distributed world-wide, Eduardo Niebla has now achieved international recognition for his expertise and creativity on the guitar.
Towards the Sun (1981) Light and Shade, with Antonio Forcione (Sol International Records, 1984) Eurotour, with Antonio Forcione (Sol International Records, 1985) Celebration, with Antonio Forcione (Venture, 1987) Music Without Frontiers, with Antonio Forcione (1987) The Alexander Project, with A. Foulcer (1988) Sequence for Guitar (1990) Work for Three Arts (1991) Spanish Projects (1992) The Sailors (1992) Poema, with Antonio Forcione (Jazzpoint Records, 1992) Breathing (1993) I Can Fly Now (Sol International Records, 1996) Magic Nights (1996) Mediterraneo, with Adel Salameh (1996) The Gift (LMR Records, 1999) Natural ( LMR Records, 2003) Lights from the Inner Side (LMR Records, 2004) My Gypsy Waltz (LMR Records, 2010)
Daniel Stelter was born in Germany. His passion for music started early: he began playing the classical guitar at the age of eight, and was soon introduced to jazz, rock and pop music by his older brothers.
As a teenager he spent hours meticulously listening and playing to tunes from records and tapes. At the age of 17 he was a member of the Federal Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Peter Herbolzheimer. During that time, Stelter toured for six weeks through Southeast Europe and recorded a CD.
After his graduation he studied jazz guitar with Norbert Scholly at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, but he never lost track of the classical guitar.
With Ulf Kleiner (piano), Tommy Baldu (drums) and Michael Pauker (bass) Stelter formed a quartet tha released several albums, including “Homebrew Songs” (2009) and “Krikelkrakel” (2012). The sound of the quartet is a symbiosis of classical guitar, mixed with a trace of electronic music, underlaid with a sound carpet of cool beats and a healthy dose of funk and soul.
In 2016 Daniel Stelter was recruited as guitar player for the NDR-BigBand and he accompanied jazz legend Al Jarreau on his tour through Europe, staging at Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Olympia in Paris, Opera Garnier in Monte Carlo, Paradiso in Amsterdam, Performing Arts Center in Kristiansand, Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Philharmonie in Berlin and Kongresshaus in Zürich.
Also in 2016, Daniel Stelter released the record Live in der Stadtkirche with acclaimed Gypsy Guitar and Latin Swing guitarist Lulo Reinhardt, which quickly made “Record of the month” in the German NDR Jazz Charts.
Stelter is also a permanent member of the Ringsgwandl band, with whom he tours regularly throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Daniel and Lulo Reinhardt toured North America in 2018.
Arty McGlynn, born in Omagh, County Tyrone, is one of the leading guitar players in Irelands. He starred playing guitar at the age of eleven, influenced by the great jazz guitar masters. By the age of fifteen, he was already playing professionally various genres of music. Near the end of the 1970s, Arty focused his interest on Irish traditional music and released his first solo album, McGlynn’s Fancy. It was the first album in which the guitar was played in an authentic traditional style. Eventually, it became a classic recording.
Arty therefater became one of the most in demand musicians in Ireland. He performed and recorded with Enya, Christy Moore, Paul Brady, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn. He also played as a member of celebrated groups such as Planxty, Patrick Street, De Danann and The Van Morrison Band.
Arty recorded as a duo with fiddler Nollaig Casey. They released Lead the Knave (1990) and Causeway (1995).
Donal Clancy was born in Canada in 1975 and later moved to Ireland. He has been involved with the best bands in Irish music, starting out in Clancy, O’Connell, and Clancy with his father Liam and his cousin Robbie O’Connell, helping to found the band Danú and them moving on to become part of Eileen Ivers Band before taking a pivotal spot playing guitar with one of the hottest Irish and Irish American bands around, Solas. When it was time to make a change, he found his old band Danú in need of a guitar player again, and that’s still one of his main gigs.