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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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