Multi-instrumentalist and educator Joan Chamorro brings the Sant Andreu Jazz Band to Bengaluru this week
The Sant Andreu Jazz Band from Barcelona has the distinction of being a music school band with a difference. In 2006, the band’s bandleader and multi-instrumentalist educator, Joan Chamorro, began teaching classic jazz tunes to young students who were primarily learning Western classical music. Sixteen years later, more than 70 artists (from the age of six) have performed in Spain and neighboring countries.
Now they are bringing their number to India, marking the 10th anniversary of one of the country’s top breweries and jazz venues, Windmills Craftworks in Bengaluru. Performing three shows from September 23-25, Chamorro says via email that he met Windmills Craftworks founder Kamal Sagar “several years ago” and that he “fell in love with my project.”
Chamorro brings together 11 young musicians [of whom four are presently in the orchestra] to perform swing, jazz and bossa nova songs. Although he may have started the project, Chamorro insists that the group is not an individual work but a collective one. “You can learn music in a different way, a more motivating, more open way that allows young musicians to express themselves and give their opinion on what they want to do,” he says.
They may be music school students, but the Sant Andreu Jazz Band does not necessarily intend to put them on the path to becoming professional musicians. However, Chamorro notes that is exactly what has happened over the years. He adds: “The fact of enjoying learning motivates them a lot and they all end up devoting themselves, because they want to make music their life. The fact that most of them become very good professionals and some of them even do very well in their international careers fills me with pride and happiness, of course.
When it comes to methodologies, Chamorro – who plays saxophone, double bass, flute, clarinet and cornet – says everyone in the band treats each other like companions and that’s a motivating factor. for young and older musicians. “When they start, when they are the smallest, they notice the bigger ones and admire them. They listen to them, how they improvise, how they play their instruments,” he says.
While several albums have been recorded by the Sant Andreu Jazz Band and more are in the pipeline, performances and tours are, of course, much more dynamic. Ask Chamorro if they’ve ever had trouble bringing young kids on tour and performing at jazz clubs and he admits there have been issues over time. In India too, teenage artists rarely have a space to perform and are forced to wait until they are 18. Chamorro says: “We achieved this by explaining that we are an association with an educational activity and that we have already solved all the image problems, etc. When we travel with a lot of minors, yes, we need parents to accompany us.
Then shows in Holland, France, Sweden and maybe Mexico. Among the most immediate engagements is a performance at the Barcelona Jazz Festival in November. For now, they are in India and Chamorro would like to explore jazz from here. “I don’t know much about jazz in India, but it would be great to be able to meet Indian musicians and organize jam sessions with them. Jazz is universal music. It would be great to be able to do that,” he says.
The Sant Andreu Jazz Band performs at Windmills Craftworks, Bengaluru on September 23, 24 and 25. Get tickets here.