Welcome to OLEANDOLE, a Catalan Flamenco-Jazz ensemble that began with a more
reduced formulation but has been expanded to fit in perfectly with what we have always
understood as a superband.
And no, the prefix is not the result of any hyperbole, but of a descriptive effort.
These 14 compositions (although four or five are rather transitions or interludes), are
true pieces of gold work with which the repertoire of one of the most important
saxophonists in the history of jazz is translated into the flamenco compasses of the
seguiriya or soleá. This very elaborated journey through the figure of Wayne Shorter,
involving more than 30 musicians, was conceived as a delightful tribute and, as of this
past 2nd of March, it also serves, unfortunately, as a posthumous recognition of the loss
of the revolutionary performer and composer from New Jersey.
The good chemistry between jazz and flamenco is already part of the DNA of at least a
couple of generations, with abundant examples of inspiration and good taste in the
confluence. But "Wayne Shorter goes flamenco" emerges with the composure and
relevance of authentically substantive affairs. Because there is a lot of fire and a lot of
earth in these grooves, and not a drop of water that threatens to extinguish or dampen
Shorter was member of Miles Davis' band and co-founder of the revolutionary Weather
Report, not to mention his dazzling solo work. Hopefully, at the age of 89, this
reinvention of his repertoire would have reached his ears in time. I'm sure it would have
been exciting for him to discover, for example, how his Ana Maria (from Native dancer,
that album in alliance with Milton Nascimento) was transfigured into full-fledged
tanguillos. It is not a random example, but a symbol of the happy intersection of styles:
a flamenco injection in an already fused original of two musical cultures, two
geographies and two blood streams. The fusion of the fusion.
Behind all this expansive architecture is the capital figure of percussionist and guitarist
Ramón Olivares, a historic member of the Laietana wave and former member of the
Orquesta Platería or the band Els Comediants. He signs the lyrics that punctuate the
album (the classic Dance cadaverous, for example, has a prologue entitled El día que te
llevo flores) and is responsible, along with guitarist Jordi Bonell, for the "adaptation to
flamenco rhythm" of all the source material. But the list of allies who embark on the
adventure is overwhelming, starting with the historical ones (Jorge Pardo, Carles
Benavent, Albert Bover, Gorka Benítez) and going through the string arrangements of
Joan Albert Amargós until the decisive figure of Luis de la Fefa, a cantaor from Barcelona
of pure gypsy stock who is less often mentioned than he should be.
The loss of Shorter adds an additional symbolism to this great flamenco reverence for
his legacy. But let's not get carried away only by melancholy and let's be amazed by the
reinvention, for example, of Speak no Evil, a track that in 1966 gave title to one of
Wayne's most admirable albums and now is transformed into pure palpitation and jaleo.
Waynayne Shorter Goes Flamenco
When we talk about fusion in music, what are we talking about, incorporating distinctive
elements of one music into another, pollinating or enriching, blending or colonizing?
In the history of music, the mixture, the melting pot, is tradition. When styles appear for
the first time, they do so already intertwine, adding external elements to be recognized
as novel. Thus cool jazz needed the harmonic contributions of the impressionists, who
via Bill Evans and Gil Evans (-they were not brothers -Sic-) refreshed be-bop. Also Paco
de Lucia drank from John Mclaughlin's guitar, to incorporate diminished scales and other
To mention that this is a fusion album may seem obvious, but it is not, this album
"Wayne Shorter-Goes Flamenco" is not a fusion album, but rather a pairing and more
than a "full house", it is a "straight flush". Both musics keep their essences and their full
attributes. It is true that the songs of Wayne Shorter, one of the best composers that
modern jazz has ever had, sound here by soleá or seguiriya, but neither the jazzman gets
flamenco nor the flamenco gets cool. Each one preserves its own territory and, yes, they
fecundate in the trance. It is a win - win.
This album is a collective project and a melting pot of artists from very different
backgrounds and ages. Up to 30 of the best exponents of our jazz and flamenco, some
of them very illustrious, have participated with total dedication, guided by the solvent
and why not, brilliant hand of Ramón Olivares, the leader. A musician rocked by jazz,
Latin music, flamenco and even opera. Particularly sensitive to the nuances of rhythm,
perhaps to the point of obsession, he has conducted the recordings with a firm hand, so
that "Oleándole play Wayne Shorter" is a jazz album, a flamenco album and a portrait
of several generations of very representative musicians of the national scene.