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