Per Will Friedwald
Here are the top 13 reasons why I'm looking forward to attending the 2012 edition of the BARCELONA JAZZ FESTIVAL:
1) I've never been to the city before, and my beautiful girlfriend and I are eagerly anticipating the legendary, almost-mythic loveliness of Barcelona in it's full glory.
2) There are many European and Spanish-speaking musicians whom I've heard about, but never had the privilege of hearing in person, including Paolo Fresu and the world-famous Cristina Pato (unbelievably, some great musicians never get to New York).
3) There are also even more European and Spanish-speaking musicians whom I've never heard of – am anxious to see what they have to offer.
4) The wonderful Fred Hersch Trio – he plays the Vanguard and the Jazz Standard here in New York at least four times a year, but that's hardly enough times to hear this brilliant pianist.
5) Michel Camilo & Tomatito – a terrific piano and guitar combination, with a decidely spanish accent.
6) Mavis Staples + Dayna Kurtz – another inspired duo, the Gospel legend plus an emerging American vocalist who seems to be able to accomplish anything she sets her mind to, from the American Songbook to international standards and, now, Gospel.
7) Gordon Webster – most of us know him as the pianist with Mona's Hot Four (at Mona's on Avenue B in New York), but he's capable of playing more than traditional jazz and dance music, and has a singularly inspired band. With the exceptional Australian saxophonist Adrian Cunningham.
8) Sonny Rollins – Who would turn down an opportunity to experience the living legend? Every time I see him is the absolute best time. He hasn't played New York in two years, which means I'm suffering from Sonny withdrawal. Worth crossing the ocean to see!
9) Bob Belden & Animation – A very gifted saxophonist / bandleader / composer, and a band that takes nothing for granted. One never knows what to expect from them.
10) Fanfare Ciocărlia – A truly astonishing Romanian gypsy brass band – I heard them live for the first time in September, and they are a band that one would gladly climb the mountains of lower Hugivesastan to hear!
11) Brad Mehldau Trio – He's possibly the most popular pianist (after Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea) in all of jazz, especially with younger audiences, and with good reason: his highly melodic style and capacity for surprise.
12) Chick Corea – this line-up of the iconic pianist's trio is one of Armando Corea's all-time strongest, co-starring the resourceful drummer Brian Blade and the remarkable bassist Christian McBride.
13) And the final reason I'm looking forward to coming to the Barcelona Jazz Festival is that there's a great picture of me on their website.