Chano Domínguez: "Petrucciani was a big heart with legs and hands"

With the humility of the greats, Chano Domínguez answers the other end of the phone with such humility that it is easy to forget that he is one of the pioneers of the fusion between flamenco and jazz.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
17 March 2023 Friday 23:47
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Chano Domínguez: "Petrucciani was a big heart with legs and hands"

With the humility of the greats, Chano Domínguez answers the other end of the phone with such humility that it is easy to forget that he is one of the pioneers of the fusion between flamenco and jazz. National Award for Current Music 2020, with Play Petrucciani, the pianist from Cádiz pays tribute this Saturday at the Nova Jazz Cava (10 p.m.) to the Frenchman Michel Petrucciani, whom he used as a reference for the 88 keys during his self-taught apprenticeship as a youth.

You live in Montseny since 2020

Yes, I returned from the United States and I have settled in a house that I have had for 20 years. The pandemic caught me on tour, I had to stay and after three months locked up I decided to bring all my things from there.

What is the difference between the music scene in New York and Barcelona?

It's very different, New York is a hive of musicians arriving every day to show their music. Everyone who comes is quite good, you don't see anyone playing in a club in New York who doesn't know how, it's a city with a lot of musical and cultural interaction. Barcelona also has it, plus many musicians are coming here to live, my neighbor is the guitarist who played in the Electric Band with Chick Corea, and I know of very renowned musicians who are coming to live in Catalonia, apart from the community of great musicians who are already around here, especially in the field of creative music, jazz and flamenco.

Terrassa's performance will revolve around Michel Petrucciani

It will be a very exciting concert with music by Petrucciani and also with pieces by other composers that he liked to play. We'll do some Duke Ellington and some other stuff, plus music by Michel. I feel very lucky to have Flavio Boltro, the trumpeter who played with Michel for 15 years, he knows his music very well. Playing with him gives me very firm support.

What does the music of the French pianist mean to you?

I've been a big fan of his music since the 80s, when Cold Blues, a fantastic duo with Ron McClure, fell into my hands. I went crazy and started transcribing his music. I was a jazz student, I wanted to acquire language and I was very interested in the way of playing different pianists. Michel was an amazing light, the piano sounded so bright to him not because it was EQed brilliant, but because he made it sound that way. Petrucciani was like a big heart with legs and hands, captivating you with emotion and passion when you heard him play.

I had the opportunity to meet him at the beginning of the nineties in Brussels, at the 140 theater. I explained to him that I had transcribed his music, and he admitted that this was the case because “if you don't know my songs, you can't talk about them in this way”. . Michel was a benchmark as have been other teachers that I have stuck to to learn everything I could, such as Tete, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and many other pianists whom I have followed in a very staunch way.

How do you rate the Terrassa festival?

The first time I worked in Terrassa was in 1992, after which I remember having been with the New Flamenco Sound, with Paolo Fresu or with my flamenco quartet, in various projects. I think it's fantastic that a city like Terrassa has the Cava de Jazz where I've played from the beginning. It has kept a lively and very active jazz community, especially with the organization of the Picnic Jazz that every year is very crowded and brings families closer. It has managed to unite the entire community of Catalonia to build a festival that joins the Barcelona jazz festival.

You have been very self-taught

I have had a very street musical upbringing, I learned to play the flamenco guitar watching my neighbor, who was a flamenco guitarist. I didn't talk to him or ask him anything, I just watched him play and then I went home to practice what I saw him do. I was lucky to have parents who, without being musicians, were very fond of music. My father was a great fan of flamenco, and at the end of the sixties he had his records by La Paquera, Tío Borrico, Marchena and the greats of flamenco singing. My mother was always a Spanish singer, she knew them all and sang them all day while she was doing her thing. I have been lucky enough to be born into a family that liked the music of their land, although later I have studied with great teachers as well.

Now the teacher is you

I am currently in the superior of the Taller de Músics giving piano lessons and leading a combo.

Flamenco and jazz are combined in the Taller de Músics

Flamenco does not matter with the instrument with which it is played, flamenco is the person who plays it. It's a live music, in evolution, that continues to grow and as such today we listen to flamenco things in different styles, with very different proposals, which I think is very good. It's okay for purists to remind us where soleás or seguidillas come from, but it's also okay to break those rules and investigate. Flamenco is born from a symbiosis between cultures, from a movement, it is something in motion and it continues to move. We can all and should coexist. The fact of being able to express an emotion, which is what music, dance, singing is all about, is magnificent in all its spheres and expressions, whether in the purest and most ancient or in the more modern too.

What projects do you have for this year?

We plan to record a concert of the Play Petrucciani project, we don't know if in a concert or in the studio. I just spoke in Paris with the producer of Petrucciani's Cold Blues album and we are talking about making a production with his music. Besides, I have had a project in mind for a while now focused on plastic language to record with the piano.