live in the north of Europe. The first time I took note of a fado song was perhaps in 2013. During the following years, my interest grew and I increasingly searched for more. I found some wonderful recordings, singers and instrumentalists. I also learned about the fado houses of Lisbon. In 2016, my wife and I were ready to go to Lisbon to experience fado in some of those fado houses. We have now visited Lisbon five times with the main purpose of enjoying and learning about fado. Last time was in February this year (2024).

During our 2019 visit to Lisbon, we had the pleasure of enjoying the singing of the fadista Lina Rodrigues at the fado house Clube de Fado. However, at that time she, as an artist, called herself Carolina. She later changed her stage name to her given name, Lina. This is the name I will use in this article.

The very first time we experienced her singing live, we felt that there was something special about her performance, and that feeling has only grown. Since that experience, Lina is one of the singers who we always ensure that we can see whenever we visit Lisbon.

Clube de Fado, April 3, 2019

Expression and presence

What is it about Lina’s singing that attracts us? In trying to capture these qualities, I can draw upon the analysis by the Swedish fado connoisseur Ulf Berquist. The analysis can be found in a review of Lina’s second album, Encantado, where he also comments on her first album, Carolina. Although the review was published on Bergquist’s blog back in May 2015, I think it remains relevant. In my translation from Swedish, this is what he writes.

…/Carolina/ is a very musical singer who creates life and energy in the melodies through fine dynamic shades, flexibility in phrasing and elegantly ornamented lines. The music alternates between relaxation and tension, and despite a moderate sound level, Carolina creates a restrained drama in a soft, intimate and sensitive way.

He continues further down in the review:

I think Encantando is about as successful as Carolina, but testifies to a greater renewal in the choice of repertoire. I like both and hear them with the feeling that the singer is not using one hundred percent of her talent. What is missing? Not easy to say. My impression is probably based on having heard her sing on several occasions at the Clube de Fado in Lisbon (where she still sings four nights a week). With her pleasant voice, her concentration, her expressive, nuanced singing style and her measured and elegant body language, she can create a charged atmosphere, a meeting point between artist and audience that becomes a lasting memory. Her personal radiance in this environment is probably impossible to capture in recordings.

What I would like to add to his analysis is the concept of presence. While singing, Lina radiates a strong sense of presence. She is spiritually very much present and that sense builds a strong connection to me.

Is presence a quality that is particularly important for singers of fado? I cannot say whether it is more important, but I would argue that presence is definitely an important trait of fado singing. But, as is the case for singers in any genre, different fadistas can radiate presence to varying degrees. How much can you sense that a fadista is spiritually present?

This is where I believe that Lina’s fado singing has special qualities – not only her vocals, but also her body language. As Ulf Berqquist writes, both are somewhat restrained, which I believe make the dynamics of her singing more delicate. Her expression is graceful yet expressive. And, as a base for it all, Lina’s voice is beautiful. Overall, you very much believe in her presence; that Lina is ‘there’ and that her expression grows from a genuine and personal feeling. When you experience her perform in a fado house, and visitors adhere to fado house rules and concentrate on the performance, there is nothing that can disturb that feeling.

And as Ulf Bergquist writes, maybe it is impossible to capture on a recording Lina’s personal radiance in this environment. Presence is probably a quality that, for natural reasons, can best be communicated in live performances – and (to a point) the smaller the venue the better. This could be the case for all performers, but Lina’s particularly strong ability to radiate presence might mean that the difference to her recordings is greater than for many other fadistas. This does not imply that Lina’s recordings fall short of other fadistas’ recordings, but that she has a particularly strong ability to create and communicate presence in the intimacy of a fado house. Sitting close to a performance of Lina and her accompanying group in a fado house is a cultural experience that I would like to share with everyone.

Clube de Fado, February 2024

Last time we experienced a performance by Lina was in February 2024. We spent ten days in Lisbon to enjoy fado at different fado houses, and two of those nights we were happy to experience Lina’s performances at Clube de Fado. During a fado night at Clube de Fado, three different fado singers each perform twice. Usually, they are accompanied by the same three instrumentalists, playing Portuguese guitar, Spanish guitar (viola fado) and double bass. There is also an instrumental performance in between – altogether seven performances.

The first of the two nights, Lina was the third singer to perform, so her two performances were the third and the seventh. As guests should not eat or talk during a fado performance, and the performances are interlaced by the various parts of a three-course meal, the last performance can take place quite late. This was one of those nights, and as a guest you can become quite tired when the time is getting close to 1 am. But when Lina and the instrumentalists entered the room for the second time, and Lina started to sing, it was like magic. Her performance has never touched me more. If I remember correctly, she started with the first song from her last album, Desamor from the album Fado Camões. That choice of hers is an interesting choice. I will come back to that.

The main image above is from that first night. The next night that Lina performed at Clube de Fado we met her for an interview in between her two performances. Fortunately, Lina was the first singer that night, so after her first performance we met quite early upstairs at Clube de Fado. These were some of the topics we talked about.


Lina was born in 1984 in Germany, where her family lived for eleven years. However, the family moved back to Portugal when she was only five months old. There she grew up in the countryside where the family had a farm. Lina’s first memory of fado was when her father drove a tractor, singing a fado song. He loved fado, and Lina found her way to fado by her father’s dancing and listening to the records of Amalia Rodrigues.

When Lina was ten, her mother moved to Porto along with Lina and her older sister, for the children to study. There, Lina combined the ordinary school subjects with studying music and taking singing lessons at a conservatory. She also sang in a choir and performed in operas. Once, she was chosen to play the main child character in a play.

The teachers had high and specific expectations on Lina, being “the most preferred child”, and they tried to orient her in cultural and intellectual directions that at that time were not hers. Lina’s comment is that she was not “the most sensitive child”.

My conclusion is that, from early on, Lina showed a tendency to develop along paths of her own. Her memory of fado was there, and fado gradually came to dominate her classical singing. When you hear Lina sing today you realise that, early on, she had professional vocal training and experiences, but her classical training eventually became subordinate to the development of the fado expression.

That choice has proved to be successful. Eventually she became a performing fadista in Porto – and later in Lisbon. In 2007 Lina became a regular fadista at the famous Clube de Fado, where she stills performs regularly. Lina has now released four albums, and she gives concerts in Portugal and internationally.

Presence from the inside

As the sense of presence is important to my appreciation of Lina’s singing, I ask her how she herself experiences this dimension of her performance. How does presence “feel from the inside?” (Although this question might seem obscure, Lina understands what I mean.)

However, asking this question, I am slightly concerned that I will receive an answer that will diminish my enchantment with her singing; that she will disclose techniques used to give an impression of presence. However, I am reassured when she talks about presence as a gift rather than as an impression created by a technique. The straightforward answer is that Lina feels what she sings. Sometimes her feelings are emotional, sometimes more meditative. And sometimes she can imagine some kind of light in her head, and she experiences herself as a messenger who receives something that she passes on.

This is enough for me, and I will continue to enjoy her presence without trying to understand what I am experiencing.

Venues and recordings

Musicians perform at different kinds of venue. For a fado singer, a fado house is a typical venue. Some singers combine performing in fado houses with performances in concert halls of various sizes, and some only give concerts. And music can be recorded on audio or video – live or in studios. These different ways of creating music differ in many ways – both to the musicians and to the people who experience what the musicians create. I asked Lina a few questions about how she experiences the different venues and forms of producing music.

Lina feels that the fado house is, in some ways, like a school to the musicians. It is a more relaxed venue than a concert hall. In fado houses you can over time sing many different songs, you can test a performance and it is accepted that you sometimes make mistakes. In those ways the performance in a fado house is less formal than one in a concert hall. But the informality of a fado house has its limits. Musicians need the audience to be quiet in both types of venue. I suppose that for people not used to fado, being concentrated and quiet might come less naturally in a restaurant than in a concert hall.

Lina likes both kinds of venue, with their different characteristics and qualities. She explains by giving examples. In a fado house there are many kinds of people, sometimes children. Some come when visiting the city for the typical Lisbon experience of a fado house. Others come there to enjoy a meal with music. Still others come mainly to enjoy the music. Some investigate beforehand who is singing which night, but others just want the general experience of fado in a fado house. In a concert hall the focus is, of course, on the musicians and their (well  prepared) performance. People who are interested in the performing musicians and their music come there to see them, with an extra emphasis on literally seeing them.

Lina also likes to record albums, and she appreciates the possibility of receiving feedback on her albums from listeners on social media. However, as some listen to music on streaming services instead of buying albums, it is a financial problem to musicians that the remuneration from streaming services is very low.

Lina also points to the fact that recordings of music need to be well prepared. The recording sessions are expensive, and when the recordings have been released the result will be there forever.

Based on my idea that presence can be more easily conveyed through recordings when you can actually see the artist, I asked about her views on making videos. However, Lina is sceptical as the costs are very high and the production complex. And without an audience, she thinks it is impossible to create the same emotions as in a live performance.

Unfortunately, we did not discuss the possibility of recording live performances. I believe such recordings of high quality may be a good enough substitute if you cannot visit a fado house or a concert hall.

Artistic development

Lina has released four albums, and I say to her that they are quite different. “That’s the point”, Lina comments, as the differences relate to her personal and artistic development.

  • Carolina (2014)
  • Encantado (2017)
  • Lina_Raül Refree (2020)
  • Fado Camões (2024)

Her first two albums are those that I find most alike. The music is close to the fado tradition.

Although Lina sings classic fado songs on her third album (Lina_Raül Refree), the arrangements are very different. The album is a collaboration with the Spanish musician and producer Ra​ü​l Refree. He is a guitar player but chooses to play piano and synthesisers on this album – which gives quite a different character to the songs when compared to traditional fado music.

Lina appreciates the freedom that Raül gives her in their collaboration. With Raül, she can do more than traditional fado songs. She says that she needs “space to sing”, and that she likes to sing acapella. She feels free not to care about rhythm and instruments. She also likes the extreme opposites between silence and the noise that instruments can produce. She wants to feel the differences. Raül helps her to understand this and to feel freer. I think that knowing these ambitions adds to the experience of listening to their collaborative album.

However, Lina perceives her latest album, Fado Camões, as her most important. It is different to all of her previous albums. Although she continues along some of the lines drawn in her third album, I would say that – with poems of the great national poet Luís Vaz de Camões, and together with the producer Justin Adams (also on percussion, guitar and programming) – she has created an album with a more harmonious expression than her third album. Some of the music has been borrowed from traditional fados, and some is newly composed by Amélia Muge or by Lina herself.

Although more harmonious than her third album, the music is still serious and sad, as fado most often is. A Portuguese guitar is involved, played by Pedro Viana, and John Baggott contributes on piano, Fender Rhodes, Moog, bass and, drum programming. The fact that the instruments play roles different to those in traditional fado perhaps gives Lina some of the space and freedom that she wants. The album has been very well received in the community of world music.

But, as Lina says, it can be difficult to sing her own repertoire in the traditional fado houses. The fado house musicians know the traditional fado songs better.

This is where I want to return to the fact that Lina and the accompanying instrumentalist at Clube de Fado performed a beautiful version of the first song of her latest album, Desamor, when we were there. I would like to hear more of that combination, and hopefully we can eventually be able to enjoy more of her own repertoire in traditional fado houses with traditional accompanying instruments.

It was in connection to her collaboration with Ra​ü​l Refree that Lina abandoned her artist name Carolina. She now wants to appear as her true self (and call herself by her given name) as an artist. But the change of name has caused some problems. When you search for her music on streaming services, or search for her on the Internet in general, you need to know that she has appeared under different names. And even if you know, it is frustrating that there is not a way to find all of her music by using only one of the names. At least streaming services should have a way to connect all recordings of an artist, even if they are released under different artist names. I would not like her beautiful first two albums, or fabulous early YouTube recordings, to be forgotten just because they have been released under a different artist name than Lina.


So far, I have only experienced Lina perform live in a traditional fado house, so I might be biased in my preference for her singing traditional fado. After all, it is in live performances that one can best enjoy an artist’s sense of presence. However, I will very soon attend one of the concerts of her current European tour, the Lina Fado Camões 2024 tour. I am looking forward to the possibility of enjoying dimensions of her music that I have not experienced live before.



Most of the videos linked below represent Lina´s four albums. In connection to the album Carolina, several live music videos of high artistic and technical quality were produced. They are live in the sense that you can see and hear Lina sing and her accompanying musicians play, but there is no audience. However, I have enjoyed these wonderful videos many times.

There are no such videos in connection to the album Encantado. Therefore, it is here represented by three ‘audio videos’. The two albums Lina_ Raül Refree and Fado Camoës are represented by different modern video concepts.

In addition, there are four other videos. One was recorded at the Museu do Fado in Lisbon (2021), another at the Festival de Flamenco y Fado de Badajoz (2022), and two at the small fado restaurant Mascote da Atalaia (2019), that later changed its name to Canto da Atalaia. These two last videos highlight how fado is not always sad.

Carolina (2014)





Encantado (2017)




Lina_ Raül Refree



Fado Camões




At Museu do Fado (2020)


At the Festival de Flamenco y Fado de Badajoz on Juli 1, 2022


Having fun at Mascote da Atalaia* (2019)


*The restaurant later changed its name to Canto da Atalaia

Lina’s website
Lina’s Instagram

Finding Sílvia Pérez Cruz

Nowadays, I mainly experience music through an audio streaming service (Spotify). I often use it to listen to my favourites, but it is equally important to me as a tool to find music that is new to me. As I do not know exactly what I am looking for, I use the streaming service’s ability to associate from one piece of music to another. What I get in return is a mix of different musicians, different songs and even different genres.

In a couple of my explorative listening sessions last year (2023), I found two songs with vocals by the Spanish singer and composer/songwriter Sílvia Pérez Cruz. I had never heard her before, even though, as I learned later, she has been a successful singer for many years.

I searched for more of her music, and finding more, Sílvia became one of my favourite artists. I introduced my wife to her music, and we now regularly listen to Sílvia in our many hours of shared experience of music. Sometimes by our active choice, sometimes as the result of the association function of Spotify.

How come that I did not discover Sílvia earlier, and what is it about her music that I appreciate so much?

Finding music

Actually, I most often find music that is new to me with the help of Spotify, and the suggested music often appeals to me. Sometimes that function of the streaming services is criticised, on the assumption that it leaves us fenced in; meaning that we continue to listen to the same kind of music all the time. That is not my experience. When suggesting music, the streaming services sometimes can take quite a leap from my chosen point of departure, but there is always some kind of bridge from that starting point to the suggested music.

I believe bridges are important to our ability to learn to appreciate new music. It is difficult to like something that is totally different to your basic musical taste, but by crossing musical bridges put before you, you can in fact expand your taste and habits of music listening. The big change might not happen all at once, but by being somewhat active you and the streaming service can work together on a long-term trend of development. Being active means that you show which new routes you appreciate and, when you find yourself in a musical back alley, you start all over from a new point of departure.

Going south – finding Sílvia

Long before streaming services, musical bridges were of course established by musicians themselves. In the early 1960s, American jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and the Brazilian composer and musician Antonio Carlos Jobim began their collaboration, and together they helped many around the world to discover Brazilian Bossa Nova.

Some ten years ago I crossed that bridge to explore Brazilian music in general. While exploring, streaming services offered me a bridge to Portuguese music, probably given the important cultural links between the two countries. Once in Portugal I eventually found the Portuguese fado. This was an important breakthrough for me and my wife, and we have since enjoyed a lot of fado – both recordings and live on location in the fado houses of Lisbon.

Maybe that was the start of a new trend for us, when searching for new music. A couple of years ago we realised that we increasingly listened to music of ‘the south’, and consequently, less to music of ‘the north’. I cannot tell afterwards exactly what routes have brought me to other musical cultures of the south, but now music from Portugal, Spain, France, Cap Verde, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Brazil etc are parts of our musical habitats. Of course, we still frequently listen to music from northern Europe and North America (mainly jazz), but currently most of the roads which we travel to find music new to us remain to the south.         

Having found the kind of music that Sílvia Pérez Cruz represents is part of that trend, in which Sílvia to us is a major discovery. She is now very much part of our main playlist such that we listen to her regularly and on many different occasions in our home.

How come that I did not discover Sílvia earlier? After all, she has by now a quite extensive discography. She was the vocalist of the female flamenco quartet Las Migas when they released their first album Reinas del Matute in 2010. However, neither of the individual members are mentioned on Spotify. But on later albums Sílvia is always mentioned as a solo artist and/or in collaborations:

  • 11 De Novembre (2012)
  • Granada (2014) with Raül Refree
  • Immigrasions (2015) with Raül Refree and Ernest Snajer
  • En la Imaginación (2016) with Javier Colina trio
  • Domus (2016)
  • Vestida De Nit (2017)
  • MA: Live in Tokyo (2020) with Marco Mezquida,
  • Farsa (género imposible) (2020)
  • Toda la vida, un día (2023)

Sílvia has also released many single releases, and she appears on other artists’ recordings.

Reading articles about Sílvia in the international press, I realise that she is not only into several different music genres as a singer and composer, but that she also enters other forms of artistic expression, such as dance, theatre and film projects. Some of those expressions can be seen in her music videos. And the articles I find are very positive.

Is Sílvia maybe too versatile to be easily captured by the logarithms of streaming services? Or is there a significant genre distinction, not easily crossed by the algorithms, between some of the music of Sílvia Pérez Cruz and other genres I usually listen to?

Maybe it was my love of fado that eventually led me to the album Reinas del Matute with Las Migas, an album from her early career, and maybe it was my love of jazz that led me to find the wonderful collaboration between Sílvia and the Javier Colina trio, En la Imaginación, a mix of jazz and flamenco. That seems logical. And it also seems logical that her collaboration with Raül Refree at first did not easily find its way into the suggestions of streaming services to me. Some of their collaboration is maybe still too different to my favourite kinds of music. Sílvia’s later albums are closer, and I find the latest album, Toda la Vida, very beautiful.

I still do not know why I did not find Sílvia Pérez Cruz earlier. But whatever the reason, I have now found her. And in the end, it was a streaming service which led me to her.

The music of Sílvia Pérez Cruz

There is a statement on the official website of Sílvia Pérez Cruz that is very close to what I feel for her as an artist. In my translation, this is what it reads.

It would be impossible to classify Sílvia Pérez Cruz in a single style. She is versatile and unmistakably personal. Two qualities that rarely coincide, but which are defining qualities of Sílvia. She is faithful to the different styles that she approaches without ceasing to be, at any time, herself.

“Versatile and unmistakably personal”. Exactly. When I listen to one of her songs for the first time, I am happy to identify her after only a few bars, although the piece can be quite different to any of her songs that I have heard before. And for each new attractive song that I find, my appreciation of her grows.

I have found Wikipedia articles on Sílvia Pérez Cruz in English, Spanish and Catalan. As they classify the music of Sílvia in different ways, and/or use different genre names, they probably have different authors. They might look upon Sílvia´s music in slightly different ways, and together they give us a multifaceted picture of her music.

  • All three articles mention Flamenco as a separate genre, but the Catalan article adds the Flamenco rumba.
  • Jazz is mentioned in the English and Spanish articles, but not in the Catalan.
  • Classical music is mentioned in the English and the Catalan articles, but not in the Spanish article.
  • Folklore is mentioned in all three, but the Spanish article differs between South American and Iberian folklore.
  • Contradanza, Fado and Tonada are only mentioned in the English article.
  • Canción de autor (author song – singer-songwriter) is mentioned in the English and Spanish articles.
  • Musical fusion, Mediterranean music and Experimental music are mentioned only in the Catalan article.

The different classifications might be interesting in themselves to study and compare, but as I do not know the full characteristics and borders of the mentioned genres I will not try. However, what I do know is that I very much appreciate many of the results of Sílvia lending her own expression to different genres. (I admit that I have come across some music that I have not learned to appreciate, but there is time ahead to get to know that music too.)

Obviously, the first song I discovered (María la Portuguesa with Las Migas) is a fado song, and the second (Debí Llorar together with Javier Colina Trio) has a jazz flavour, but it is fair to say that both also have a flamenco flavour. And, of course, a Sílvia flavour.

The personal tone and the dynamics of the expression are important to my appreciation of Sílvia’s music. Her modern and soft version of flamenco is often present, and its melodic ornamentation contributes to the dynamics. But different sorts of flamenco are not present in every song by Sílvia Pérez Cruz. There are songs with other characteristics as you can find out for yourself, listening to the songs below.

My appreciation also rests on the arrangements of the songs, which in addition to Sílvia’s vocals, involve contributions from other singers (sometimes even a choir) and accompanying instruments. Many of these arrangements are absolutely wonderful, and they are richly varied. Each of these recordings is its own piece of musical jewellery.

A confession about lyrics

Although Sílvia herself claims the importance of the stories being told in the songs, I must confess that I do not understand them, simply because I do not understand the language. I have the same problem with the Portuguese fado, but this does not stop me from loving the music. It speaks to me through the beauty of the music and through the language of emotions. This is very much the case with Sílvia’s music. However, sometimes a video can help me to understand the general theme of the song.

When I was quite young, many of the songs I heard on the radio were from other countries. In many of them, the lyrics were in English, but I also heard songs in French, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. Although young, I loved some of those songs. One can say that I learned how to love songs without understanding the lyrics. When I did not have to bother about the message of the songs expressed in words, maybe I even grew extra sensitive to dimensions of the melodies, the harmonies, the rhythms, and the individual sounds and expressions of the instruments and voices. The songs ‘spoke’ to me without words.

When I later learned English, I often did not care very much about the lyrics anyway, as I had learned a way to enjoy music without understanding those lyrics.

This is probably why I do not find it odd to listen to music without understanding lyrics. As a matter of fact, I often do not care very much for the lyrics in my own language either. The understanding of lyrics might even interfere with my appreciation of the musical dimensions of a song. However, this does not mean that I could just as well listen only to instrumental music. There is a lot of sophisticated instrumental music that I love to experience, but in other types of music the human voice means a lot – perhaps more when it alone (without my understanding of the language) has to carry the transmission of feelings to me. The quality of the human voice is to me different to that of any other instrument and knowing that there is a message in what the singer expresses makes a huge difference. I do not have to understand the exact message, but I must believe in the sincerity of the singer’s expression.

A friend of mine once said: “But what if the lyrics are bad?!” My answer was: “So much the better I do not have to find out that someone has written poor lyrics to a wonderful melody, to a wonderful voice.”

But I must confess that Sílvia’s music has challenged my position about enjoying music without understanding the lyrics. Sílvia’s own position, and what the reviewers write in their reviews, has made me suspect that I might be missing something important in her music. So, I will try to find a way to understand at least some of the lyrics in her songs.

But Sílvia, if I fail to understand, you must know that you have anyway reached into my heart with the beauty and the emotions of your music.

Where do you come from?

I suppose it is by now obvious that I very much appreciate the music of Sílvia Pérez Cruz, and I of course share that appreciation with many other music lovers.

So, what about you who have never heard Sílvia before? What about you who encounter her for the first time when clicking the links below? It is difficult to assess the importance of one’s background when you start to listen to an artist, a genre, or a song that is new to you. But if my theory of the importance of roads and bridges is right, the road I have travelled and the bridges I have crossed on my way to find Sílvia matters to my appreciation. After all, I am heading south, and I have crossed over a few bridges to find her music.

But there are probably other roads and other bridges to the music of Sílvia Pérez Cruz. By which road have you come to experience her music? Think about it when you do.

Where I am in life right now, I find Sílvia’s music wonderful and exciting.

Music videos

Even if I usually use an audio streaming service to find music that is new to me, I often enjoy playing my newfound favourites on a video streaming service, like YouTube. Hear are a few videos with Sílvia Pérez Cruz. Enjoy!

Sílvia Pérez Cruz and Cástor Pérez: Veinte años


Sílvia Pérez Cruz – Las Migas: Maria la portuguesa


Sílvia Perez Cruz, Raül Refree and Ernesto Snajer: Sólo Se Trata de Vivir


Sílvia Pérez Cruz and Eduardo Snajer: La Nochera


Aafas Ensemble and Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Absencia


Sílvia Pérez Cruz and Javier Colina: Ella Y Yo


Sílvia Pérez Cruz and Javier Colina Trio: Débi Llorar


Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Mechita (Live at Festival LES SUDS À ARLES 13.07.2017)


Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Vestida de Nit


Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Ai, Ai, Ai


Sílvia Pérez Cruz & Uxía: La Tarde (Os Xoves de Códax 2017)


Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Estimat


Sílvia Pérez Cruz and the Farsa Circus Band: Tango De La Vía Láctea


Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Mañana


Rozalén, featuring Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Amor del Bo


Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Nombrar es imposible (Mov.5: Renacimiento)

Sílvia Pérez Cruz: La flor (Mov.1: La Flor)

Silvia Pérez Cruz: Ell no vol que el món s’acabi – Mov.1: La Flor


Silvia Pérez Cruz, Rita Payés, MARO: Estrelas e raiz


Silvia Pérez Cruz – Em moro – Mov.4: El Peso (Directo) ft. Salvador Sobral


Sílvia Pérez Cruz: Cançó de Nadal

The Soul of a Festival

There are jazz festivals, and there are jazz festivals. This opening might lead you to suspect that this is an entry into the current debate about the implications of broadening the programs of ‘jazz festivals’ by including music that is not actually jazz – with the goal of making them appealing to a wider audience. Well, it is not. This article is about something else – but maybe it can still point to an alternative way for jazz to make new friends.

When you write about something where the background is well-known to some people and unknown or less known by others, you must decide how much of a background you want to give. The main subject of this article is the Sant Andreu Jazzing Festival, but without knowing basics about Joan Chamorro and the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, an important dimension of the Jazzing festival will be missing. So, for those who are not familiar with Joan Chamorro and the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, or those who want to refresh their knowledge, I present my short version of that background in the following section. Others may wish to go directly to the Sant Andreu Jazzing Festival.

Joan Chamorro and the Sant Andreu Jazz Band

In 2016 I found a youth jazz band on YouTube, the Sant Andreu Jazz Band from Barcelona. I then got to know the band gradually through the enormous amount of well-produced video recordings from public performances and from studio recordings. I was amazed by the high quality of the music. More recently I have experienced a number of live performances – and many more recordings. There are recordings with the big band, as well as with smaller constellations of SAJB musicians – sometimes in collaboration with internationally acclaimed professional jazz musicians. All recordings are available on YouTube and audio streaming services.

The man behind all this is the jazz musician Joan Chamorro, who used to be a music teacher in a music school in Barcelona. He started the band in 2006 with eight very young music students, and since then he has developed the band, and a lot of spin-off projects, enormously. The young musicians pass through the band, leaving it when they are in their early twenties, and new young musicians are recruited to replace those who leave. The new ones can be as young as eight years of age. Many SAJB ‘alumni’ continue as musicians with professional careers of their own, and they often also continue to collaborate with Joan Chamorro and different constellations of current and former SAJB musicians. And there are often internationally acclaimed professional musicians within that frame. Thus, we are talking about an informal network of musicians around Joan Chamorro and the SAJB.

Ever since my discovery, my ambition has been to spread the word about Joan Chamorro and the SAJB. Many other fans have the same ambition, and they do so through social media, articles etc. There are links to some of my articles below. I also encourage you to search for articles by Garry Berman.

When writing about Joan and the band, I always mention the positive band culture that supports the successful education model that Joan Chamorro uses to train the young musicians. The culture is friendly and supportive, and the older members help the younger and serve as their role models. The culture strengthens the positive attitudes of the individuals in the group.

When the older members leave the band, the new seniors replace them as leading musicians and role models. New young members are recruited, and so the chain of the band’s development continues. With the leadership of Joan Chamorro, this model has made the SAJB a strong and sustainable educational music project in terms of music of high quality. Frequent performances and recordings are part of the project. They also provide the main financial resources of the project. There are some sponsors, but the students do not pay any fees.

The band now has many fans over the world, and there are two international Facebook groups following them with great enthusiasm – one in English (Friends of Sant Andreu Jazz Band with about 9,700 members) and one in French (Amis du Sant Andreu Jazz Band with about 6,000 members), and they are still growing. Recently, the association Friends and Amis du Sant Andreu Jazz Band was formed. Testimonials from the professional musicians who collaborate with Joan and the band make it fair to say that they can be counted as fans too, in their own professional way.

The fans, of course, appreciate the surprisingly high quality of the music, but also the wonderful culture of the band and the charm of youth. There is also a lot of interest in Joan Chamorro’s method and the importance of his personal qualities.

The Sant Andreu Jazzing Festival

In 2014, Joan Chamorro started a jazz festival in Sant Andreu, the district of Barcelona where the band has its home base, and where Joan lives. I believe that the official name of the festival still is Jazzing – Festival de Jazz de Sant Andreu, but the logo profiles the name Jazzing de Sant Andreu. Among fans the festival is referred to as the Jazzing Festival, or even just Jazzing. The location does not need to be mentioned among fans. These shorter names show the popularity of the festival.

The Jazzing Festival usually takes place in the beginning of September. For the first four years the festival concept was as is typically the case – a number of jazz concerts. Some of those concerts mirrored the activity of Joan Chamorro’s work with the SAJB big band, a number of its spin-off projects, and invited professional musicians. However, other jazz bands were also invited – in the first festival as many as ten big bands!

In 2018 Joan Chamorro expanded the festival to include the educational side of the SAJB project. The Jazz Education Stage was introduced as an important part of the festival, where Joan, invited professionals, and SAJB seniors/alumni led master classes and workshops in jazz music. SAJB members participated, and anyone else was invited to register for the sessions of the Jazz Education Stage. Those who played an instrument could bring it and participate, but you could also, as an ordinary festival visitor, register and sit in just to see and listen to what happened in the educational sessions – which meant that you did not have to be a musician to attend. Not least, the educational sessions became a way for festival participants to get to know each other, socially and music wise.

The Jazzing Festival 2023

Together with my wife, I have experienced quite a few concerts by SAJB and its spin-off projects, in Barcelona and in other European cities, but the festival September 1-3, 2023, was our first Jazzing Festival. There has been a lot of communication among fans about the Jazzing Festivals, but for some reason we have not until this year come around to visit Barcelona in September, when the festival celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

This festival was wonderful in many ways. The concerts with different groups and bands were exquisite, and members from different bands were mixed in several concerts. The formidable saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Joel Frahm played together with many constellations, to the joy of the audience and the young musicians who got the opportunity to play with these famous musicians. They both know the SAJB project well. Late Saturday night there was a jam session at which musicians of quite different ages played together.

Scott Hamilton, Joel Frahm and the trombonist Alba Pujalso also joined the Jazz Education stage for one session each, where they shared their experiences from music life with the participants. Many questions were raised by the participating young musicians.

The Jazz Education Stage sessions all took place before lunch each day, and Joan Chamorro himself led three master classes (one each day). Those three had the form of rehearsals of three songs that were performed by the participants after the last education session. Do remember that this constellation was a big band of musicians that had themselves registered for the Jazz Education Stage, meaning that they had different experiences of music, and that they had never played together as a band. It was very interesting to study all these education sessions, and then a joy to experience the ‘exam’ of the participants in their performance of the three rehearsed songs.

The very special experience of attending this festival made me analyse the different formats of how I experience live concerts. To attend a single concert is of course precisely that. You go to a concert and enjoy it, and there is after that nothing more than your memories of that particular concert, and maybe a CD that you bought at the concert venue. It can be a wonderful concert, which gives you wonderful memories, but there is nothing more around that single concert.

A music festival is generally a number of such single concerts arranged in one location (often a city), within a certain period of time, and within a more or less broad theme such as jazz. There need not be any other connections between the festival concerts. The bigger the city, and the more spread out the concerts are in time and/or geography, the less you get the feeling of a festival. When I visit such a festival, I do so to enjoy a few artists that I like, but the festival as such does not contribute much to these different music experiences. This is where I believe the Sant Andreu Jazzing Festival differs in an interesting way from most other jazz and other music festivals. I am aware of the fact that the Sant Andreu Jazzing Festival has developed over time. My analysis reflects the current state of the festival.

The multitude of SAJB constellations, and the diversity of jazz subgenres played by them, means that these constellations offer almost enough music to form a festival by themselves. However, an important part of the SAJB culture would then be missing – the welcoming of outside influences and the willingness to share and learn. So, a number of well-known professional jazz musicians are always invited to the festival, as well as other young big bands. Within many of the concerts, and in the sessions of the Jazz Education Stage, musicians meet, collaborate, and learn. And the festival visitors who cannot play themselves, but nevertheless love music, are invited to everything.

As the centre of a Sant Andreu Jazzing Festival is Joan Chamorro and the different SAJB constellations, there is at a Jazzing festival a base of the very special SAJB culture. As other invited musicians already have connections to Joan Chamorro and the SAJB, they easily contribute to that cultural frame. The collaboration on stage rests on a professional and serious approach, but at the same time it seems fun, warm and informal.

I would say that the audience also fits into the cultural frame. We are there because we love the music and the culture of Joan and the SAJB, and being there almost feels like being at a big (extended) family party. During breaks we meet and talk to both musicians and fan friends from other parts of the world. We can also meet and talk to the different important people who administrate SAJB activities, run the site of Joan and the SAJB, and who record concerts on audio and video. We might also get the chance to meet and say hello to parents and other relatives to the young musicians, which of course contributes to the feeling of a family party.

As does the fact that the festival is arranged at one single venue, an old textile factory in the local Barcelona district of Sant Andreu. In that complex, the concerts of the festival were played in a big hall, and the sessions of the Education Stage in another hall. Outside the concert hall there was a large foyer where you could mingle, have a drink and/or something to eat, and also buy CDs and SAJB T-shirts. But as the weather was beautiful, you could also socialize outside in the old factory area. A common meal, a paella (Paejazzing), was as a tradition served outside on the last day of the festival.

However, do not jump to the conclusion that the local aspect of the festival means that the music was not of high quality. Joan, the SAJB and the festival are world class in their cultural domain, which is shown by the fact that visitors of the festival come from many different countries of the world.

So, I recommend you to one day visit the Sant Andreu Jazzing Festival – a festival with a soul.


The program of the 2023 festival is still on the festival site. You can find it, and more information about the festival, here. On the site of Amis & Friends du Sant Andreu Jazz Band, the festival activities are reported.
And just to get a flavour of what we experienced at the Jazzing Festival 2023, here are a few videos, shot by festival visitors. Four of them are shared on YouTube and two on Facebook.

Recorded by Peter ter Haar.
Recorded by Peter ter Haar
Recorded by Peter ter Haar
Recorded by Garry Berman

“The Masters Show” with Élia Bastida, Scott Hamilton and Joel Frahm.
Recorded by Philippe Aubert.

Jazz Education Stage with Maestro Joan Chamorro. Rehearsal of ‘Moanin’ before the big evening show.
Recorded by Philippe Aubert.

Links to earlier articles about Joan Chamorro and the Sant Andreu Jazz Band

The Sant Andreu Jazz Band Formula, October 2018

Joan Chamorro, August 2019

Why do we love the Sant Andreu Jazz Band?, June 2020

The Sant Andreu Jazz Band in pandemic times, April 2021

Dear Joan, December 2021

We meet Sant Andreu Jazz again, in Stockholm!, June 2023

We meet Sant Andreu Jazz again, in Stockholm!

Sant Andreu Reunion Jazz Band at the Blue House Youth Jazz Festival

Early this year (2023) I discovered that Joan Chamorro and the Sant Andreu Reunion Jazz Band from Barcelona would be guests of the annual Blue House Youth Jazz Festival in Stockholm, March 24-26. The festival welcomes 400 pupils/students and teachers for three intensive days of workshops, lectures and concerts. Invited professionals give the lectures, lead the workshops and perform. There is also a competition between the participating young jazz groups and another one between the participating young big bands.

Sant Andreu Reunion Jazz Band is a combination of members from different generations of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, albeit not the youngest. Joan and the band’s role at the festival was to lead workshops, give concerts and in general to be a role model band for the young Swedish bands and their leaders. Maybe some of you, by this description of the festival, are reminded of Joan Chamorro’s own Jazzing Festival in Sant Andreu, Barcelona. But there were of course many differences and one significant difference is that Joan Chamorro would never organise a competition in music. (I will come back to this.)    

Of course, my wife Margareta and I decided to attend the festival. Our aim was to enjoy the different parts of the festival, not least the closing concert by Joan Chamorro and the Sant Andreu Reunion Jazz Band, but also to study the methods of the workshops. We also agreed with Joan Chamorro to meet for an interview after the concert.

However, the arrangers made it clear that the only part of the festival open to the public was the last day’s competition and the closing concert by Joan and his band. (This restriction was another difference to the Jazzing Festival in Barcelona.) So, we attended part of the competition and the closing concert, and afterwards we met with Joan. To our great joy, band member Èlia Bastida also came along to meet us, and if needed to help with translations. The reunion band’s concert was only 45 minutes, but every minute was a joy! It was one of those occasions when you ask yourself if you have ever heard a Sant Andreu Band constellation sounding better. That may or may not be accurate, but was certainly how I felt. I was overwhelmed, not least by the vocals included in every piece.

Another café interview

After the concert, we went, along with Joan and Èlia, to the same café where I interviewed Joan, Èlia and Carla Motis almost five years ago. That interview resulted in the article The Sant Andreu Jazz Band formula and I wanted to follow up with Joan on parts of that interview, and bits from later articles. Our meeting became partly an interview, partly an enjoyable and interesting conversation.

Joan, Èlia, Bengt-Ove and Margareta

The latest SAJB-related concert that Margareta and I attended, before this Stockholm concert, was the SAJB anniversary concert on December 10, 2021, in the Palau de la Música, Barcelona. That was a very special concert for the audience, not least because Joan Chamorro had managed to gather together almost all young musicians who have been members of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band during its first 15 years – some 70 musicians. Joan confirms that this anniversary concert was also a very special experience for the musicians on stage. It was an unusually big and difficult project to carry out, but it was very successful, and it was great to do this together with all former and current SAJB-musicians.

I ask Joan what the plans are for the reunion band, the Sant Andreu Reunion Jazz Band. “I start new projects every year”, says Joan, “and this band is one of my new projects”. As Joan puts it, he has started to “recycle” musicians. It is not far-fetched to believe that this new idea is the fruit of the ambition to gather musicians from different SAJB generations to celebrate the SAJB’s anniversary in 2021. (As he also did with the Joan Chamorro Presenta’s Big Band.)

Sant Andreu Reunion Jazz Band

All members of this band are soloists and are good at improvising. Joan is also happy that several members also sing very well.

Every piece in the Stockholm performance included vocals with a lead singer and sometimes backup vocals. Joan earlier put together three projects profiling the vocal side of SAJB – La Màgia de la Veu 1, 2 and 3. Although this project has the same profile, Joan did not want to use that label again. The reunion aspect was instead highlighted. These are the members of the reunion band, the first six of which sing lead vocals.

  • Èlia Bastida, violin, tenor sax, vocals
  • Koldo Munné, alto & baritone sax, vocals
  • Joan Martí, soprano & tenor sax, flute, vocals
  • Clàudia Rostey, trombone, vocals
  • Edu Ferrer, alto & baritone sax, vocals
  • Perot Rigau, trombone, vocals
  • Lola Peñaranda, tenor sax
  • Elsa Armengou, trumpet
  • Gerard Peñaranda, trumpet
  • Pau Garcia, piano, sax
  • Joan Chamorro, double bass, director
  • Arnau Juliá, drums

The band has already played several concerts in various places, and I would not be surprised if it continues to play for quite some time – and maybe eventually develops into something else.

Sant Andreu Jazz Band

Our conversation then moved on to the current version of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. Joan is amazed about how well everything works currently and feels that, overall, the performance of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band has improved. Many good musicians, who had reached a high level in the band, have left, but the band’s level is still rising meaning that the benchmark that the seniors set for the beginners to reach is also climbing. In particular, there are several good improvisers and vocalists in the band now.

Furthermore, Joan tells us that there are no problems at all with attitudes these days as has sometimes been the case in the past. All young players are happy and everyone is “on track”. Joan feels that the way the band now works is “like magic”; that the energy of the band is currently the best ever.

Sant Andreu Jazz Band of today

To me, this sounds as if Joan and the band are harvesting the fruits of all the work done over the years. Maybe the culture has even reached a state where it is self-reinforcing? As the band becomes increasingly well-known and acknowledged, this stronger “brand” of the band might strengthen the incentive for everyone to be part of the culture and contribute.

Values, behaviour and culture

So, what are the cultural traits that Joan has developed so well? In my interview five years ago, I asked about the basic concept of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. Joan pointed out four principles, mainly cultural in character.

  • Firstly, the young musicians need to hear a lot of jazz. Listening makes you feel the qualities and the soul of the music, and how it differs from other kinds of music. Of course, you have to learn the songs and to play your instrument, but hearing jazz played is more important than the command of transcriptions.
  • Secondly, there is the belief that young people, children and teenagers, actually can play jazz. As a leader and teacher of young musicians you have to have that belief. The young musicians then feel your confidence in them, and they also feel their own confidence in themselves.
  • Thirdly, there is the sense of presence. When you play you have to be there, not somewhere else. You have to be in the music and together with the others in the group. You must not observe yourself from the outside, from the views of spectators or a camera (whether or not they are present). Such a preoccupation would split your focus.
  • Fourthly, there is the positive energy of the group. The younger learn from the older and you are perceived as important regardless of the size of your contribution. And eventually the younger become more experienced and take on the roles of seniors and role models. (Boström, Bengt-Ove: The Sant Andreu Jazz Band formula, 2018.)

I showed these quotes from my old article to Joan, and he felt that the principles remain the same. I also referred to Garry Berman’s interesting article from February 2022, where Joan talks about values and behaviour that are needed to make a group function.

I try to emphasize things like punctuality, effort, commitment, and other values ​​that are important to me, such as gratitude, humility, generosity, sincerity, honesty, etc. Dedicating yourself to music is not just playing your instrument well. We are part of a community and for things to work, we have to be people, as far as possible, serious with our work and respectful in all aspects, with the rest of the musicians and of course, with the public that listen.” (Berman, Garry: Joan Chamorro and the SAJB: Past, Present, and Future, 2022.)

These are important values and behaviour that Joan Chamorro wants to promote when educating the band members, as Joan has put it, “both as musicians and as people”. The values and the behaviour form a positive band culture, but also individual qualities that members can possess through life.

Every band member has, of course, heard Joan talk about the importance of these values and the behaviour emanating from them. But as culture is such an important dimension of the quality of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, I ask what Joan has done to promote and maintain a good culture.

There are two ways, says Joan. Firstly, I must lead by example. For example, as I require the members of a group to be on time, I should always be on time myself. And as I require humility, I must act with humility myself, etc. And secondly, if members do not respect the values of the culture, I must tell them to do so. On some occasions, it can be just by pointing out that a behaviour or an attitude is a deviation from what is expected. If someone shows a more general attitude problem over time, a longer conversation might be needed.

The two ways that Joan mentions are not new, or surprising, tools to educate young people, but of course, they need to be more than theory. They must be put into practice.

As a band leader Joan has a lot to teach other music leaders. When Joan gives lectures to teachers, he does not only speak about ways to teach music, he also talks about the importance of cultural aspects, such as the ones above. The musical and cultural aspects are important in themselves, but he believes that they also reinforce each other.

Comparisons and competition

I would argue that there is another trait of thought that can be seen as part of the culture that Joan wants to promote, and now we return to why Joan does not like music contests. In Garry Berman’s earlier mentioned article, Joan expresses this idea:

I like to think of music as something that isn’t a race to see who gets to the finish line first. It is a race without end, and during that journey, we musicians learn, improve, evolve, change, etc.” (Berman, Garry: Joan Chamorro and the SAJB: Past, Present, and Future, 2022.)

So, when I ask Joan about his views on the Blue House Youth Jazz Festival, he is very happy about the workshops and the concerts, and he expresses how nice it has been to meet all musicians, but then he ends by commenting on the festival contest between bands by stating that “you cannot compete in music”, a statement closely connected to his resistance to seeing music as a race between musicians.

But what about fans’ perspective, I ask Joan. I think it is clear from media posts that some fans have their favourites who receive more attention – typically girls rather than boys.

Fans might have favourites, but those are not my opinions, says Joan. “I never say that someone is my favourite. I treat everyone the same, young and old, boys and girls. Maybe singers have gained more attention from the fans, and more girls than boys used to sing in the band – but the trend now is that also boys come strong as singers.”

At this point Èlia had to leave us for a meeting, but Margareta and I continued our conversation with Joan for quite some time. Joan was very generous with his time this evening, but all good things sooner or later come to an end. We heartly thanked Joan for sharing the time with us at the café, and he left to join the band members.

When you have had a discussion with Joan, you tend to continue to think about the subjects afterwards. This occasion was no exception. Together with Margareta, I continued to reflect on the values and the culture that Joan wants to promote, and which he has so successfully developed in the SAJB.


What I was contemplating, and still am, is what these values and this culture mean to us, the fans of Joan Chamorro and the SAJB.

Of course, we can enjoy the result of the values and culture in terms of magnificent music, and we can also enjoy and praise what we apprehend of the culture as such. But what do the values mean to our fan approach to the SAJB? What would happen if we embraced the values to the extent that we used them as guidelines for our own approach and behaviour towards the SAJB and its members? Can we, by adopting these values, even help Joan in developing the SAJB?

Let’s start with Joan’s statements about musical contests. Of course, one can see that different musicians have reached different levels in their development but comparing individual musicians with themselves might be of more interest; to see and appreciate the development of each individual. This is a natural view for a person who in practice educates young people, like Joan does, but it might also be a view of more general relevance for music life.

Adding to this philosophical view on competition there is also the problem of measuring quality. Competition rests on the idea that you can compare performances with some degree of objectivity, but there is always a measure of subjectivity involved in rating individual performances.

The non-competition value is closely related to the value that all SAJB musicians are perceived as important in the band, regardless of the size of their contribution. Together these two values form a culture where mutual appraisal and encouragement are more important than competition as driving forces of development. Of course, you never know what goes on in people’s minds, but I believe that the musicians’ behaviour towards each other on stage supports the case that these positive values are strong within the SAJB.


The value that each band member is important regardless of contribution has implications for equality. Joan treats everyone equally, but do we as fans always act like that? As I note above, often the girls, who have frequently been the vocalists, have appeared to garner the greater attention from fans in media posts. I think that fans who want to act in harmony with SAJB values, should embrace the same equality ethos as does the band.

This ethos is valid not only on the group level (boys and girls) but also on the individual level, meaning that everyone should get the same level of attention. Of course, I do not believe that this “ideal” is practically possible, and one cannot deny fans to have favourites. But it is one thing for fans to appreciate some individual musicians more than others, and quite another thing to proclaim, or in other ways make it obvious on social media, who their favourites are, I would argue.

Joan points out that the number of boys who are very good vocalists has increased, so, if the level of attention paid is dependent on the strength of vocalists’ performances, the difference in attention paid between the boys and girls will diminish or even disappear. If such disparities in the level of attention persist, the explanation for them lies elsewhere. Maybe we after all do not pay more attention to the voice as an instrument of expression than to other instruments of expression? But if we do, why is it right to do so?

All in all, my belief is that Joan and the SAJB would benefit from a more evenly spread attention from its fans.


One important principle that Joan has tried to implement in the band (I believe successfully) is the importance of presence, not thinking about yourself from the outside. The young musicians very much behave as serious musicians on stage. They concentrate, sometimes closing their eyes to get deeper into the music, and seldom smile – just like many professionals. I have read a few comments on social media in which fans complain about the serious expression of SAJB musicians, probably expecting these young adults to appear to be having more fun. But why? Joan trains them to be serious about their music, which often leads to intense concentration and a measure of inwardness.

The reason he wants the young musicians to refrain from imagining themselves from the outside (like the object of a camera) is that such a preoccupation would disturb their concentration on being in the music together with their fellow band members. Therefore, we should not demand any other behaviour from the young musicians than that which comes naturally to them when concentrating on the music – like we do with all professional jazz musicians.

As a matter of fact, any comment from fans on looks is irrelevant to the musical professionalism and quality that Joan wants to promote with the students – and such comments can disturb the students’ concentration on being in the music. Therefore, I believe that we, by refraining from comments on looks, help Joan with the SAJB project.

A musical garden

Joan Chamorro’s many different music projects are like parts of a ‘musical garden’ where a lot of different ‘garden arrangements’ are created and nurtured. They continue to develop or give way to new projects – and maybe they return later. The garden develops all the time.

The different projects, in one way or another, all emanate from Joan and his base project, the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. But, although Joan is behind all the projects, he tries to give room for the different wishes and profiles of the musicians involved. And of course, he develops individuals as well as the groups, often by giving them challenging musical tasks and by paying attention to the cultural aspects of the band.

Along the way, the seniors might be involved in co-leading projects, thereby getting ready for the day when they start their own careers outside the SAJB. But ‘outside’ might be a tricky condition to determine. Musical networks are by nature not strictly defined. For instance, in the Meraki project of Èlia Bastida and Carolina Alabau, we find Joan Chamorro himself and some other musicians accompanying Èlia and Carolina in some of the songs.

One of the early SAJB members who is now a member of the Reunion band is Edu Ferrer; he is one of several prominent singers, a talent he showed early on as a young SAJB musician. Edu likes to sing songs from the Sinatra songbook, and he received several opportunities to do so in the Stockholm concert. Edu is also part of the project Joan Chamorro trio & Edu Ferrer tribute to Frank Sinatra.

Joan Chamorro trio & Edu Ferrer tribute to Frank Sinatra

The SAJB alumni Edu Ferrer and the Sinatra project is only one of many project examples. Below, you can find all ongoing projects along with their different members with different musicians frequently appearing in different contexts.

It is natural that members of the SAJB spin-off projects are experienced, but there are exceptions. In the project the Sant Andreu Dixieland Band, Joan Chamorro has assembled the youngest members of the current Sant Andreu Jazz band. The Joan Chamorro ‘garden of music‘ grows, evolves and flourishes! And as many SAJB fans know, even outside Joan’s ‘musical garden’ there are many projects grown from SAJB seeds.

Sant Andreu Dixieland Band

Joan Chamorro’s current projects

The Sant Andreu Jazz Band

  • Sander Theuns, alto & soprano sax
  • Pere Company, tenor sax, clarinet, and vocals
  • Shanti Ming, alto sax
  • Koldo Munné, alto & baritone saxes, vocals
  • Lola Peñaranda, tenor sax and clarinet
  • Andreu Romero, tenor & baritone sax
  • Noa Abike Bazuaye, alto sax
  • Bernat Benavente, alto sax
  • Martí Costalago, trumpet
  • Max Munné, trumpet
  • Gerard Peñaranda, trumpet
  • Elsa Armengou, trumpet
  • Martha Vives, trumpet
  • Luc Martín, trombone
  • Perot Rigau, trombone, vocals
  • Claudia Rostey, trombone, vocals
  • Hugo Vlach, trombone
  • Anna Ndiaye, piano, vocals
  • Pau García, piano
  • Nils Theuns, drums
  • Blai Forns, drums
  • Didac Moya, drums
  • Jordi Herrera, double bass
  • Mateu Teixidó, double bass

Sant Andreu Reunion Band

  • Èlia Bastida, violin, tenor sax, vocals
  • Koldo Munné, alto & baritone sax, vocals
  • Joan Martí, soprano & tenor sax, flute, vocals
  • Clàudia Rostey, trombone, vocals
  • Edu Ferrer, alto & baritone sax, vocals
  • Perot Rigau, trombone, vocals
  • Lola Peñaranda, tenor sax
  • Elsa Armengou, trumpet
  • Gerard Peñaranda, trumpet
  • Pau Garcia, piano, sax
  • Joan Chamorro, double bass, director
  • Arnau Juliá, drums

Sant Andreu Dixieland Band

  • Martí Costalago, trumpet
  • Sander Theuns, soprano & alto sax
  • Pere Company, tenor sax, clarinet, vocals
  • Luc Martin, trombone
  • Anna Ndyae, Pau Garcia, piano
  • Jordi Herrera, double bass
  • Nils Theuns, drums

Joan Chamorro trio & Èlia Bastida & Koldo Munné

  • Joan Chamorro, double bass
  • Josep Traver, guitar
  • Arnau Julià, drums
  • Èlia Bastida, tenor sax, violin, vocals
  • Koldo Munné, alto sax, vocals

Brazilian Quintet

  • Joan Chamorro, double bass
  • Josep Traver, guitar
  • Arnau Julià, drums
  • Èlia Bastida, violin, tenor sax, vocals
  • Koldo Munné, alto sax, vocals

Joan Chamorro Big Four

  • Joan Chamorro, double bass
  • Josep Traver, guitar
  • Èlia Bastida, violin, tenor sax, vocals
  • Koldo Munné, alto sax, vocals

Joan Chamorro trio & Edu Ferrer tribute to Frank Sinatra

  • Edu Ferrer, vocals
  • Joan Chamorro, double bass
  • Marc Martín, piano
  • Arnau Julía, drums

Music and Friendship

To the memory of Bo Sybrandt Hansen

Sometimes people say that it is hard to find new friends when you get old; that it was easier when you were young. This is not my experience. I am quite old, and in some ways I find it easier to get to know people now than it was when I was younger. I am less afraid of showing who I really am, and in my age I cannot afford to waste time on games of pretending. That approach to social life often gives the same kind of honesty in return. I believe this is an experience I share with many. But of course, to have the possibility to get to know people you need to be in places where you have the chance to communicate. It can be in physical places or on digital platforms.

I have come to know some of my friends through music. I am not a musician myself, but I find that different genres and musicians strongly appeal to my emotions. Joan Chamorro and his project the Sant Andreu Jazz Band are among those who do. I found the SAJB on YouTube in 2016, and wrote a short story for my music page,

In the SAJB project, Joan Chamorro combines a very interesting jazz education project with performances on a high-quality level by the young musicians. The members of the band are of different ages, but they are all young and serious about their music. The band is irresistible.

So, I have continued to write about the project. As Joan Chamorro shares stories written about the SAJB on social media, SAJB fans can easily find them. One of Joan Chamorro’s and the SAJB’s followers was Bo Sybrandt Hansen from Denmark. He found one of my stories, and I believe it was The Sant Andreu Jazz Band formula. That story was based on an interview with Joan Chamorro and the two young musicians Èlia Bastida and Carla Motis. I conducted the interview in conjunction with a SAJB concert in Stockholm in October 2018. Bo commented on the story in a positive way, and of course I was happy about that. We began to communicate.

In the end of the interview, I asked Joan, Èlia and Carla where to see the band next time. They strongly advised me to come to Barcelona to see the band at the Palau de la Música next month. (November 28, 2018). So, I did together with my wife. At the concert (which was wonderful), we met Bo and another SAJB fan, Pertti Haikonen from Finland, for the first time.

After leaving Barcelona, we kept in contact. The next time we met was at the Riverboat Jazz Festival 2019 in Silkeborg, Denmark. As Bo lived near to Silkeborg, I believe Bo was the one that first found out that SAJB would come to the festival. The decision to go there was quickly made by all of us. Bo helped with tickets and other practical arrangements, including a boat trip on the river with entertainment by another jazz band. During the festival, Bo and I stayed with our wives in two neighbouring cabins in a camping site on the outskirts of Silkeborg. Pertti and a Finnish friend stayed downtown in a hotel. It was in June, and the weather was beautiful. The SAJB played five concerts, and we of course attended all of them. We had a great time!

On New Year’s Day, 2020, the American writer and SAJB fan Garry Berman published an interesting article on the SAJB. Bo and I found it and gave him well earned credit. Later, Bo and Garry approached me and asked if I wanted to take part in a discussion about how we could spread the word about Joan and the SAJB. We discussed different ways, and in the end decided that a Facebook group probably would be the best. The discussion was interesting, and I came to know Bo and Garry better. We started the Facebook group Friends of Sant Andreu Jazz Band in March 2020.

I was active in the discussion and the start-up of the group, but after a few weeks I had to return to my other commitments. However, we continued to be friends and from time to time we communicated – most often about the SAJB. Bo and Garry developed the group into a highly active forum with more than 8000 members, paying their tribute to Joan, the SAJB and its current and former members. The group is still growing.

In November 2021, Joan Chamorro and three senior members of the SAJB – Alba Armengou, Èlia Bastida and Alba Esteban – came to Sweden for a short tour. Bo came for one of the concerts, and my wife and I were lucky to have Bo as our guest. After the concert we had an interesting late-night discussion about the SAJB, different music experiences and life in general.

Later that year we met Bo again in Palau de la Música, Barcelona. During that year, the SAJB project celebrated its 15 years anniversary. They did so with a number of different concerts. On December 10, Joan had managed to gather almost all young musicians that had been part of the SAJB project for a marvellous concert. The Palau de la Música was full of enthusiastic SAJB fans, and the musicians as well as the audience radiated happiness, warmth, and joy.

In July 2022, my wife and I went to Aarhus for a concert with Diana Krall, and I told Bo about it. He was not interested in the concert, but he wanted to come and show us Aarhus, a city where he had lived several years. We had lunch together, and then he very generously spent the day with us as our guide.

In October 2022, Bo and I started to discuss the possibilities to make some kind of initiative(s) that could end up in a Scandinavian SAJB tour. We communicated on Messenger and e-mail. It was of course a far-reaching idea, and we did not know what practical initiatives we could take to make the idea come true.

However, we found that communication on Messenger and e-mail was not efficient enough, so we decided to meet and spend one full day on sharing and evaluating different ideas, including what kind of valuable contacts we had. Bo would arrive the day before and leave the day after our discussions. We were of course prepared to face the fact that we might conclude that this was not a realistic idea, but we did not want to leave the idea before we had had a serious discussion about it. And I believe we both wanted to meet again, regardless of why we would meet.

Bo was to come by ferry from Denmark on a Friday evening. That evening I waited for him by the ferry terminal in Gothenburg. There were not many passengers on the ferry that day, so it was easy to see that Bo was not among them. I tried to reach him on all the platforms that we used to communicate on, but there was no answer. So, after half an hour I went home, where my wife waited with the dinner that we had planned to have with Bo. We had our dinner without him, and from time to time I looked for messages from Bo on my mobile phone. There were not any.

The next day I was informed by a member of Bo´s family that Bo unexpectedly had passed away the day before.


Some time has now passed, but I still very much miss Bo. He was a true friend, and we shared the interest in and the love for the SAJB. When you have shared an interest in music with a lost friend you are constantly reminded of that friend, and you miss the possibility to exchange ideas that you once had.

Of course, Bo had many friends, and he shared his love of the SAJB with many of them. In fact, Bo’s and Garry’s work to build and develop the Facebook group Friends of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band (FOSAJB) has brought many SAJB friends together on this common communication platform. We all share the same interest and love that Bo had, the interest and the love of the SAJB. With FOSAJB we can enjoy and develop what we love with the SAJB, and we can, old or young, develop friendship relations with other SAJB fans. The communication platform is there, and it is not difficult to find new friends, regardless of the fact that some of us are getting old.

Dear Bo, thank you for your friendship.

From the Anniversary concert December 10, 2021

Happy Birthday, Joan Chamorro!

Joan Chamorro is the creator and director of the very successful youth band, the Sant Andreu Jazz Band (SAJB) from Barcelona. The band can be seen as an educational music project. Recently recruited members can be as young as eight years old, and they generally remain a band member until they have reached their twenties. The music that the band makes under the guidance of Joan Chamorro is of a very high quality, which of course attracts fans. But there is also a social dimension of generosity and cooperation to this project that adds to the attraction, and of course contributes to the high quality of its music.

Over the years, Joan and the band have attracted many well-known professional jazz musicians as collaborators. Moreover, Joan Chamorro and the band continuously generate spin-off projects, involving current and former members of SAJB and professional musicians. The band and the spin-off projects have recorded a very large number of albums, and hundreds of recordings of wonderful performances can be found on YouTube.

Many of the fans follow Joan and the SAJB, and the alumni of the band, through membership in the very active Facebook groups Friends of Sant Andreu Jazz Band (in English) or Amis du Sant Andreu Jazz Band (in French).

Like everyone else, Joan and the SAJB were hard hit by the pandemic, but they muddled through, and last year they were able to celebrate their 15-year anniversary, with a fantastic climax in the Palau de la Música on December 10, 2021 – a concert at which almost everyone who had been part of  the band during the 15 years performed.

Today, Joan Chamorro celebrates a personal anniversary – his 60th birthday. We are many who want to congratulate Joan on his birthday, and to thank him for what he has created for us to enjoy in so many ways. For myself, I do so by sharing three earlier articles in which I have tried to understand and write a portrait of Joan Chamorro and the Sant Andreu Jazz Band project.

Congratulations and thank you, Joan!


Joan Chamorro

Why do we love the Sant Andreu Jazz Band?

Dear Joan


Where we meet with music is about music and the experience of music. One aspect of such experiences is the circumstances where we meet with music. This article features and compares two very different contexts – contexts that I appreciate very much. The two contexts address very different preferences in terms of enjoying music. They are so different from each other that they seem to reflect different kinds of personalities. However, both preferences are mine. How can that be?

Our Saturday night dinners

We are at home. It is Saturday and dinner is prepared. With food, wine and music. With memories, plans and hopes. With ideas and emotions. My wife and I know that we will have enough to enjoy and discuss for the rest of the evening. We commence the meal by tasting the wine, and then we are on our way.

Like people in general we talk about everyday planning issues, family, friends, society, culture, politics, etc. Our associations of thoughts lead the conversation forward. However, music is an essential part of our dinner, not only to colour the atmosphere. Many songs recall memories of concerts and performances that we have attended. Such as Melody Gardot and Kurt Elling in Molde, Diana Krall and Keren Ann in Paris, Gin Wigmore in Munich, the Sant Andreu Jazz Band in Barcelona, Cécile McLorin Salvant in Oslo, Mariza and Carminho in Gothenburg etc. Many memories stem from experiences in the fado houses of Lisbon with performances by fadistas like Lina, Maria Ana Bobone, Joana Amendoeira, Pedro Moutinho, Rodrigo Costa Félix and many more. Music by those musicians that we have met on a personal basis brings special memories.

Sometimes our conversation leads us to have a look at a musician’s tour schedule. If we find an interesting concert at a time and in a place that is convenient to us, plans are sometimes made, and concert tickets might be bought before the meal is over.

But music also makes us travel in our minds to cultures and countries that we have not visited, and probably never will – Cap Verde, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and other countries that are hard to reach from our country in a climate-friendly way.

Some of the music we listen to comes from our CD collection. The rest is easy to access through streaming services. There, we can choose to listen to an album or a playlist with a collection of different musicians.

When we let the streaming service lead our way from a starting point that we have chosen ourselves, such as a playlist with favourite music, the streaming service adds more music for us to listen to – a mix of songs that we already know and songs that we have never heard before. Some of the new ones are fabulous, and we add them to our playlist. If it is a newfound artist, we can investigate that artist further another day. Therefore, a musical dinner can become a night of musical expansion.

Often the music addresses us in a way that calls for a response. Our responses might have the form of a question or a comment. “Who is this now again?” “That harmony was beautiful!” “This sounds like X!” “I must find out who that singer (or instrumentalist) is! “This band has brought us so much joy!” These responses interrupt the current subject of our discussion for a minute or two, and sometimes the interruptions put us on new conversational tracks. It is as if we are three individuals around the table – my wife, myself and the music. Creating atmosphere, yes, but the music is not like wallpaper. It is a living thing, communicating with us.

A fado experience

Now for something completely different. This is an excerpt from my article A fado experience from 2016. My wife and I had come to experience fado in the world capital of fado, Lisbon. But as we started our first visit to Portugal by spending a couple of days in Porto, it so happened that the first fado house we visited was there. This is the story.

It is the 25th of October and we go to Casa da Marinquinhas, a fado house that a Facebook friend who is herself a fadista has recommended.  It is not easy to find the place among the irregular small streets and alleys alongside central Porto. The houses are very old and there are not many people in the sparsely lit streets. If it had not been for the recommendation, we would probably have avoided that part of the city at night-time. But, once there, we are warmly welcomed and invited to our booked table.

After four hours we have had a tasty meal interspersed by at least six performances by different fadistas, male and female, and two guitarristas. The man who seems to run the place is strict in his design of the fado experience. Food is ordered and served in sequences to fit in between the performances. Before every performance the lights in the small restaurant go down, and only a couple of tiny spotlights light up a small spot in the centre of the room. There is no stage. The musicians are on the same level as us. It is totally quiet. No one continues to eat, and we are all focused on what is going to happen.

And then one of the most beautiful combinations of instruments – the Portuguese and the classical guitar – starts to colour the background of the fado song. Soft, but nevertheless energetic. They do so with a delicate fabric of tones in which it is sometimes difficult to distinguish who is contributing which thread. Still, the different sounds of the two guitars are very distinct.

After a short and beautiful guitar introduction, often with a bittersweet colour, the fadista starts to sing. And the song is no less beautiful. The fadista tells the emotional story (most often a sad one) with a strong expression, closed eyes, and he/she does not open them until a storm of applause releases the tension of the fadista and the audience. There is never a second of silence between the song and the applause. It is as if the concentration of the strong emotions that the fadista and the other musicians create is released when the last forceful tones of the guitars and the fadista are hit.

As the experienced visitor of fado houses now realizes, this is not a description of what goes on only in Casa da Marinquinhas, but with variations in every fado house. At its best the fado experience is created in a close relation between fadistas, guitarristas and fado house guests. Fadistas sometimes say that they need the community with the audience to create genuine and honest fado. Guests are sometimes informed that “you and your silence are important parts of the fado experience”.  This message has two parts. It means that the guests of fado houses are co-creators of the fado experience – but also that the guests cannot be co-creators if they disturb the fadistas, themselves or other guests by talking, eating, or just being focused on something else than the performance. Fado is serious business, and if you are not interested in participating on these terms you should probably do something else. It might sound a little bit too strict to some of you, but why not give it a try? You will be rewarded.

The puzzle

If I very much appreciate the strict separation of conversation and eating from the music performances in a fado house, why do I enjoy that my wife and I always listen to music while having our weekend dinners, with a lot of conversation? Could it be a matter of the presence or absence of fado music? No, there are frequent examples of fado music during our dinners, and my preference for separating conversation from music is not limited to fado houses. It is valid for any restaurant with music performance, and of course for performances in concert halls.

However, the conditions of our Saturday dinners point to several other possible explanations. We are only two people, and we both feel that this is a pleasurable way to be together. Being only us in the room, we do not disturb anyone else and no one else disturbs us. The music we listen to is recorded music. If we had invited musicians to perform in our home, we would of course not have disturbed the interaction between the musicians and us by talking or eating.

Our musical taste, and our experiences of music are about the same. We appreciate listening to our old favourites, and we appreciate widening our experiences of music. We know each other so well that the music does not demand a high level of split focus capability for us to be able to enjoy the music while talking. Whenever we feel that the music needs a higher degree of attention, we can within an instant give that level of attention.

I do not claim that the experience of music is the same during our dinners at home as it is at a fado house or in a concert hall. It is something else, but it has qualities that I cannot find in a fado house or at other kinds of live performances. So, I would not like to live without the kind of dinners with music that we have at least once every weekend – and I would not like to live without experiences like those in a fado house or a concert hall. after hours

If you want to share some of our music experiences, here is a link to one of our play lists on Spotify. Just click the image below and enjoy!

Songs from this list will from time to time show up on the Facebook page and Twitter account of

Dear Joan

Dear Joan,

I am one of many who want to thank you deeply for creating the project of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band and all its related spin-off activities. You have created and developed this project such that it has become an important concern for many music lovers all around the world, including professional musicians. This is my tribute to what you have achieved.

In 2006 you initiated the project by introducing jazz and your own pedagogical method to eight very young music students in Sant Andreu, a district of Barcelona. Over the years that have passed since then, some 70 young musicians have participated in the project, learning how to play jazz and how to work together towards a common goal, helping and supporting each other. At the end of Ramón Tort’s documentary Kids and Music, la Sant Andreu Jazz Band (2012), this dual goal is phrased in these words: “Driven and directed by Joan Chamorro, the orchestra aims to educate children from 7 to 18 years old both as musicians and as people.”

How right you were to combine these two ambitions, to the benefit of both! The combination of developing musical qualities as well as social and human qualities has been very successful, and the combination has made many of us love your project in a way that goes beyond appreciation of the high-quality music itself.

The project of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band seems to me to form a sort of “ideal society” – a community where everyone gets the opportunity to develop with the help of the leader, fellow band members and external professionals.

Yes, quite a few professionals play together with you and the band from time to time. These collaborations show the attractiveness of your project, and they help to develop the band and its members.

I know how hard you and the students work in practising and rehearsing together. The results in terms of wonderful concerts, videos and albums are part of the educational side of the project. They also help to cover the band’s costs, which means that neither the young musicians, nor their parents, have to pay any fees. This of course means that the band has to be attractive enough for people to buy concert tickets and albums. You and the young musicians have been able to create this attractiveness.

When I first found you and the Sant Andreu Band on YouTube, I did not consider the regeneration issue. The band was there with the members that I saw on the screen, and the performances were wonderful. However, after a while I noticed that the different videos showed different musicians, and the individual musicians could be ten years of age in one video and fourteen in another.  I soon realised that even SAJB members (of course) grow older and eventually they leave the band – but that new ones are recruited all the time.

This quality of your work really impresses me. Instead of playing safe and continuing with the band that you have once selected and developed, you let the older members get on in life, and you all the time find new young musicians to recruit. In that respect, it is like a school, but your model in many ways differs a lot from institutional schools. The way you mix ages in the band, creating a family-like culture, is a key aspect of the band.    

Leaving the big band of SAJB often does not mean leaving the SAJB environment totally. After leaving, the seniors often continue to collaborate in SAJB’s different spin-off projects. They can do so, and at the same time find new music friends, projects and genres. To be a SAJB alumnus offers many possibilities, not least because you have created many opportunities for the young musicians within SAJB. Many have been able to play more than one instrument within the band, and many have had the opportunity to develop their singing.

Over the years, I have more and more come to realise that you constantly develop your project. There is, of course, a core set of activities, songs, collaborations etc, but there is also always something new. You have a very open mind, a quality that I believe that you have passed on to your young musicians. This is an important legacy.

As you know, I have given your work quite a lot of thought and I have from time to time put my thoughts into writing. There are maybe no new ideas in this letter to you. Maybe I have said it all elsewhere. However, at the very end of this SAJB 15-year anniversary, I want to put these thoughts into one integrated salute to you and the SAJB.

You have managed to carry on your project in these hard times of the pandemic, ending the anniversary year with a number of activities. You managed to create a new edition of your Jazzing Festival of Sant Andreu, you managed to produce some new “Joan Chamorro presenta” albums with release concerts, and you have been selected as the portrayed artist (Retrat d’Artista) of the Barcelona Jazz Festival 2021. Apart from the well-earned honour, this appointment includes five SAJB-related concerts within the festival.

Although the pandemic persists, my wife and I could not resist going to Barcelona to experience the anniversary concert of December 10, a concert that included almost all students who have been part of SAJB sometime during the past fifteen years. A birthday party that all were invited to.

So, we were there, and what can I say? How can I describe the outstanding mix of music, warmth, happiness and joy that we all experienced in Palau de la Música that night? I have after that concert no words to describe what I feel for you and everyone in the Sant Andreu Jazz Band project. Words fail me. It’s only love.

Best wishes


  • I hope we all soon can enjoy this wonderful concert on video!  
  • If anyone else reads this letter to Joan, and wants to explore the thoughts expressed above further, they can be found more developed in my articles below, ordered according to date of publication. In the end of each article you will find links to videos with wonderful music by SAJB and related projects.

The Sant Andreu Jazz Band Formula

Added reflections on the Sant Andreu Jazz Band Formula

Joan Chamorro

Why do we love the Sant Andreu Jazz Band?

The Sant Andreu Jazz Band in pandemic times


The cover image and all photos below are from the anniversary concert December 10, 2021.

All photos above by Lili Bonmati

All photos below by Peter ter Haar and Isabel van der Ven


Photo: Silvia Poch

A new musical space

Sometimes I discover music that I find very attractive but different to what I usually listen to. The music opens up a new musical space to me, a space where I have not been before. This happened when I recently experienced the music of Carolina Alabau and Èlia Bastida from Barcelona.

I became curious when I first saw a few videos on YouTube, shared on Èlia’s Facebook page. Later, in September, my wife and I were enchanted when we experienced Carolina and Èlia’s concert (online) at the Jazzing Festival in Barcelona. It was a beautiful concert, and I became inspired to write about their project. We contacted them through Èlia and asked if we could conduct an interview online. They were very generous, and the interview was held a few days later.

To prepare ourselves, we bought their recently released, first (joint) album, which we had time to listen to briefly before the interview. Directly after the interview, we listened to the full album twice, with growing enthusiasm. We had fully entered the musical space created by Carolina and Èlia. Writing this, I continue to play the album and indulge its powerful expression and colourful details.

Their music is not new in a strange way that is difficult to enjoy. It is different and of high class, but easy to listen to – beautiful, inventive and fun. Actually, we detect elements from many directions that are familiar to us – folk music from different countries, jazz, and even classical music. (I even detect colours related to the Portuguese fado, a favourite genre of mine.) However, it is not right to say that their music is a plain mixture of such influences. Carolina and Èlia´s music is very much their own. A space of their own.


However, their music should in the first place be experienced, not analysed. It opens up emotions of happiness and surprise to the listener. The title of the album, Meraki, is the Greek word for passion. To Carolina and Èlia, it signifies the creativity, love and soulful honesty in their creation of music.

The album consists of four original songs, written by Carolina and Èlia, and their interpretations of nine other songs – “traditional songs, Mediterranean music and Brazilian music, bossa nova and jazz, among others”, as is said on the album cover. But I cannot say that their own songs form a category of their own, separate from the others. It was clear to us that one of the songs (“The Sound of Silence”) was not their own original song, but for the rest we had to ask. Their own songs – “Something New”, “Conversation in Ramos” (Conversa em Ramos), “That Melody” (Aquela Melodia), and “Thousands of Lights” (Miles de Luces) – are of equally high quality and interest as the others. The tracks on the album differ in character, but they all have Carolina and Èlia’s beautiful expression in common.

Cover Design: Hugo Cornelles
Photo: Silvia Poch

More from the cover:

Alabau and Bastida combine voices, violin, piano and percussion, and for the recording, they are joined by the Spanish guitar of Marc Lopez; the vibraphone of Brandon Atwell; the double bass of Joan Chamorro and the tambourine of Sergio Krakowski. The album was recorded live in order to best reflect the connection and dialogue between the musicians and convey the unique energy of this genre. The recording took place in the studio of David Casamitjana (Espai Sonor Montoliu, in La Segarra) during the summer of 2021.

So, the recording is quite recent. Carolina’s voice and Èlia’s violin lie at the centre of all the songs. They form a musical dialogue and sometimes quickly leap between the tones in dynamic unison. Carolina is the lead singer and on occasion Èlia joins in with her voice in harmony. Èlia’s violin serves as a solo instrument, but also, like Carolina’s piano, as an instrument of accompaniment. The two young musicians are a perfect match. When we ask how it is to work together, they both say that they mutually help each other to connect better to music. They are very good friends, they can be creative and improvise together, and it is easy for them to find a way forward in their creative work.

As is said on the cover, Carolina and Èlia receive help to create a more full musical body and varied flavours in some of the songs of the album. The additional instruments and musicians are carefully chosen to deliver those flavours, and the result is beautiful. To the listener those musicians could very well be apprehended as group members. The characterisation “perfect match” can be used again.

Photo: Helena Palau


We know Èlia from her work within Joan Chamorro’s creation the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, and in 2019 I wrote an article on her when she was about to leave the big band as a regular member. However, she had by that time already collaborated with Joan in other projects within his big network of musicians – and she has continued to do so. Apart from her main instrument the violin, she sings and plays the tenor saxophone. Èlia´s musicianship has so far been portrayed on two albums (Joan Chamorro presenta Èlia Bastida and The Magic Sound of the Violin) and a third is close to completion (Èlia Bastida meets Scott Hamilton). More about Èlia´s background here: 

As Carolina is new to us, we asked her to fill us in about her background. We learned that Carolina has a similar background to Èlia in terms of music. She was born to a musical family; her father and brother are cellists and her mother plays the viola. Like Èlia, she went to a music school, where music is integrated in the curriculum alongside other subjects. The musical focus was on classical music. She studied the first year of the jazz voice degree at the “Guildhall School of Music” in London, and then finished the degree at the “Conservatori del Liceu” of Barcelona. Singing has been there all the time. Her classical training has been a great help in teaching her how to breathe, but for the rest, the technique is very different in the kind of music she now sings. In the beginning, she also played both violin and piano, but she now concentrates on the piano. In 2020 Carolina recorded her first album, Primera mirada, and like Èlia, she is involved in several additional music projects.

One interview after another…

Carolina and Èlia are two very busy young musicians, and we are thankful to them for giving us the time for an interview. The setting of the interview was very special. It was conducted by a Messenger video call, right after a live radio interview. They tried to find as peaceful a place as possible, but central Barcelona is not very peaceful anywhere. So, we were experiencing the urban life of Barcelona as a background to our conversation! But aside from a few difficulties in hearing, it was actually a wonderful experience to be transferred to central Barcelona while talking to Carolina and Èlia. When the streets after a while became too noisy, they brought us into a café to finish the interview.

The radio interview was one of many positive reactions that Carolina and Èlia have received after the Jazzing Festival concert. As our interview is one of those reactions, I can very well understand that they have faced that kind of interested and positive reception after the concert and the album release.

A duo in collaboration

Carolina and Èlia found each other in a music project in 2019, and realised that it would be a good idea to play together. Carolina loves the idea of singing with a violin. They met several times, exchanged songs, and found that they liked to create music in collaboration and to melt the violin and the voice together.

They see themselves as a duo, using violin and voice as the base, but they also love to collaborate with other musicians. So they bring in other instruments that they find attractive in creating the different expressions of the songs. Early on, they felt that there sometimes should be percussion in their music, and when they composed one of the songs, they “heard” the sound of a vibraphone. So, why not try to bring those instruments in? Likewise with the double bass and the classical guitar, and I will not be surprised if they were to bring in other instruments in the future.

Photo: Helena Palau

The future

Well, what about the future? At the moment Carolina and Èlia have no other answer to that question except that they want to continue to collaborate. They are now intensely involved in the Meraki project; in living and delivering the songs of the album, which means that right now there is no time nor emotional space to be involved in planning for further albums. As stated above, they are also both involved in several other musical projects. However, I am sure that eventually there will be another album by Carolina and Èlia. Their shared creativity seems to be irresistible.


Making music together – each from their home

The Sant Andreu Jazz Band in pandemic times


We enjoy travelling and we enjoy music. For almost two decades, my wife and I have combined these interests by travelling to different concerts in Europe. Once we are in the city of the concert, we add other experiences. We might visit a few tourist attractions, and we enjoy the daily life of the city.

Sometimes we attend more than one concert in a city, for instance when we visit a jazz festival. And when we go to Lisbon to enjoy fado, we go to different fado houses every night. There are many!

Some years ago, we decided not to travel by air any longer. This means that we now travel by train. We enjoy it very much, and we have the time as we are retired so the fact that travelling from Sweden to our destination might take two or three days is not a problem. However, once having reached the south of Europe, it is practical to combine a couple of concert destinations. This demands some planning, which we also like. The planning and the actual travelling give us the possibility to enjoy the journey twice.

We discovered Joan Chamorro and the Sant Andreu Jazz Band in 2016, and we have enjoyed the band’s music a lot since then. The project is about music education for children and teenagers, where the actual performing is an important part. There are many albums, YouTube videos and live concerts. We have been able to enjoy the big band and smaller constellations of SAJB members and associates live, several times in Scandinavia and in the band’s home base, Barcelona. We have also been able to combine SAJB jazz in Barcelona with fado experiences in Lisbon, another music love of ours, a couple of times. The music flourishes in the two cities, and we have enjoyed both kinds of experiences very much. In 2020, we had planned two journeys to Barcelona and one to Lisbon.


When the pandemic hit the world in the beginning of 2020, everything changed. The most serious consequences of Covid-19 naturally concern public health, but there have also been serious consequences for economies, social life and culture. To stop the spread of the virus, the authorities have imposed restrictions on attending school, working at our normal work places, socialising, shopping, travelling, attending sport and cultural events etc.

The consequences for cultural life have been hard on consumers of culture, but harder still on those who produce culture and earn their living from it. Consumers of music can still enjoy audio and video recordings, which up to a point can compensate for the loss of live concerts, but most musicians nowadays earn their living mainly from performances. Selling albums cannot compensate for this. The loss of performances is also a matter of lost opportunities to communicate with audiences, and thereby sustain and develop cultural skills and expressions.

This article is about the consequences of the pandemic for one specific cultural entity – the Sant Andreu Jazz Band project.


I am not the only one outside Barcelona who has discovered the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. The music is of an amazingly high quality, even if one disregards the musicians’ ages, and the project has some very attractive features in terms of how Joan Chamorro achieves these qualities with the band. Joan aims to educate the young members both as musicians and as people, and the two ambitions turn out to be mutually supportive. Therefore, there are many fans of the SAJB, mainly jazz lovers, all around the world. Before the pandemic, some of them occasionally travelled to live concerts in Barcelona.

The Sant Andreu Jazz Band is a big band playing music from a classical jazz repertoire with lots of swing – sometimes in collaboration with professional musicians. From time to time different SAJB members, former SAJB members and professional musicians collaborate in smaller constellations. These constellations have added some beautiful bossa nova to the SAJB repertoire. (In the photo above you can see a constellation focusing on vocals, La Màgia de la Veu.)

The educative ambition of SAJB and the extensive number of constellations – with Joan Chamorro in the centre of it all – means that we actually should talk about this phenomenon in terms of an extensive and developing project rather than in terms of just a band. I have interviewed Joan Chamorro a couple of times and published a few articles on his work with the SAJB project. (Links below to those articles.)

Joan Chamorro initiated his project, the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, in 2006. This means that the band has been around for fifteen years, and Joan had big plans for the anniversary year, starting already in the end of 2020. What has happened to the Sant Andreu Jazz Band project during the pandemic? Recently I was in contact with Joan by e-mail to hear about the consequences. These were my questions and Joan’s answers.

When did you realize that Covid was going to stop or delay much of what you had planned? 

As soon as there was talk about restrictions. Two students came from Italy a few days before the general alarm, and what they told us put us on the alert. Shortly after, the restrictions were announced to last for two weeks, then for another two weeks, and then up to three months. The rest is already known.

Concerts began to be cancelled. We couldn’t rehearse (and we still can’t rehearse the whole orchestra in the jazz house, all together – we do it in sections).

I’m still happy that we were able to do the Jazzing Festival in September and were able to record the concert. I’m also happy because we were able to do a couple of recording sessions to finish some of the albums that we were halfway through. Finally, we were also able to do the concert at the Barcelona Jazz Festival, which I also recorded and which will be released in the coming months.

That alone, for me, was already a miracle, as things were. 

Cover of Jazzing 11 vol. 4. Photo and design by Lili Bonmati. Image from Barcelona Jazz Festival 2020 at Palau de la Música Catalana.

Can you briefly tell me how Covid affected your SAJB activities during 2020 – and your plans for 2021 so far?

There were numerous consequences. As I mentioned, for several months there was no type of rehearsal and some of the classes, especially with the little ones, we carried out through the internet.

Since all this began, band rehearsals are limited to rehearsals section by section.

To prepare for a concert, we have done the general rehearsals in a larger room, kindly provided by the concert hall, one or two days before the concert and also by the Nau Bostik. (Near the Jazz House.)

We had planned to record with Scott Hamilton and I rescheduled the date twice – but in the end it could not be arranged.

Two musicians were due to come from New York, but they couldn’t make it.

The entire Jazzing Festival was left with very few people attending, because obviously, no one came from outside Barcelona. A big band from Mexico was planned to come, but obviously couldn’t. A lot of visitors from outside Spain could not come, etc. etc.

But, well, as I have already mentioned, I am happy to have carried it out. We are already preparing the next.

Rehearsing with the new section of trumpets

Rehearsing at the Nau Bostik

What have the human consequences been for you as leader of the SAJB, and for members of the SAJB? How have you and the young musicians felt about the situation?

Humanly, it is a very sad situation because you have to stop doing what you are dedicated to – in my case, all that is my life.

But once reality is accepted, we have been able to do important things.

When you work with people that young, close follow-up is important. Rehearsals and concerts generate positive energy and enthusiasm for studying at home and wanting to move forward. 

I, for my part, have taken the opportunity to think and organize myself, to clarify my ideas of what I want for my future and, little by little, to make decisions for the future of my project.

On an economic level, for the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, it has been a disaster and, although for the moment we can move on, the situation, if it lasts much longer, will be untenable.

Luckily, concerts are beginning to appear. Concerts are our way of making our dreams come true, and we need them for economic reasons.

After rehearsal with the little ones at the Jazz House

How do you see the future of SAJB now – in 2021 – and later?

I am very excited about this new rejuvenated orchestra. Several older musicians left this year (although they continue to collaborate with us), and we have a very good feeling about it all.

The average age of the orchestra has dropped a lot, and that, in part, is good, because it is the present and it is the future.

There are very good students, with great enthusiasm, and that makes me also feel that desire to continue with the work of these past 15 years.

We have several projects for 2021: 

Soon the Joan Chamorro presentations of Joan Martí and Marçal Perramon will see the light.

Also the four volumes of Jazzing 11. Only vol 1 will be made a physical album. The other three will be released only on internet portals such as Spotify and Itunes.

This year we will also record the Jazzing 12, Joan Chamorro presents Alba Esteban, Alba Armengou sings Brazil etc, etc. 

And since this is the anniversary year 2021, there will be several important concerts – from our part in the Jazzing Festival in September and onwards.

We will do a concert where I will try to bring together the more than 60 musicians who have passed through the Sant Andreu Jazz Band these 15 years.

I am also going to gather in a concert all those who have their presentation CD and I am gooing to make a big band with them, with new songs. (This will be only for a concert, which I want to record and edit on a new CD).

etc etc

As you know, I am writing a book on the SAJB project. I have decided to publish the book in 2022, in order to give me time to include my reflections from 2021, when really important things will happen. I want to include my reflections on those things in the book.

and take a photo with all the musicians, include it in the book, etc etc etc

As you can see, I am with the same enthusiasm as always and the same desire to continue with the project. Let’s hope things improve and the winds continue to blow in the right direction.

Preparing Joan Chamorro presenta Joan Martí

Recording of Joan Chamorro presenta Marçal Perramon

Recording for Joan Chamorro presenta Marçal Perramon

Recording session for Jazzing 11 vol. 3

Preparing for Joan Chamorro presenta Alba Esteban

SAJB at the Barcelona Jazz Festival. (December 18, 2020)
Photo: Lorenzo Duaso

Joan mixing with Josep Roig, Temps Records

Those were Joan’s answers to my questions. Apart from the economic threat, which is serious, Joan gives us some very positive signals concerning the future of the SAJB project. After more than one year of the pandemic, and all the restrictions related to it, we all need those kinds of positive signals. Joan Chamorro and his SAJB project continue to educate young boys and girls as both musicians and people and, when the vaccination programme hopefully has had its effects, it will again be possible to travel to Barcelona and enjoy live performances by the Sant Andreu Jazz Band and related constellations of musicians. Maybe we will meet there?

Videos from YouTube and Facebook

A recording in confinement, each from their home




Recordings in the Jazz House, in the middle of the pandemic


The Jazzing Festival, September 2020


Related posts

Why do we love the Sant Andreu Jazz Band? (June 26, 2020)
To be sincere (May 30, 2020)
Joan Chamorro New Quartet (February 3, 2020)
Joan Chamorro (August 9, 2019)
Èlia Bastida    (May 24, 2019)
Added reflections on The Sant Andreu Jazz Band formula    (January 3, 2019)
The Sant Andreu Jazz Band formula    (October 26, 2018)
La Màgia de la Veu & Jazz Ensemble    (July 8, 2017)
Sant Andreu Jazz Band live    (April 30, 2017)
Sant Andreu Jazz Band    (September 22, 2016)