Pepe Habichuela at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

A very exciting collaboration awaits us in May, with the arrival of flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela and renowned jazz bassist Dave Holland at the excellent and ever-innovative Cheltenham Jazz Festival, directed by Tony Dudley-Evans.

Pepe Habichuela certainly seems to enjoy taking flamenco in several different dimensions, after his Yerbagüena album mixing Hindu music and flamenco with the Bollywood Strings several years ago – more on that here at .  Dave Holland, meanwhile,  is one of the world’s most highly regarded jazz musicians, originally hailing from our own lands of sunny Birmingham, now living in New York, but a frequent and welcome visitor to our shores.

(Just before his Cheltenham appearance, you can catch Dave performing in a very different musical setting, as part of the new Harmonic Festival in Birmingham on March 10th at Birmingham Conservatoire).

Meanwhile, Tony talks about the May performance on the Cheltenham Jazz Festival website …

There are two concerts at this year’s Barclays Cheltenham Jazz Festival that I am particularly looking forward to hearing. One is the Cuong Vu Trio gig on Sunday 2nd May which I wrote about in my last post. The other one is Dave Holland and Pepe Habichuela, the collaboration between the bass player Dave Holland and the Spanish flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela and some of Pepe’s flamenco family.

Dave Holland is of course one of the world’s finest jazz bass players. He was born in England in Wolverhampton and was brought up round Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham before going off to London to study. He first started playing in bands in the West Midlands in the 1960s originally in a three guitar band and he took up the bass when he decided that he was the weakest guitarist of the trio and feared he might get the sack! He was discovered by Miles Davis in London in the late 60s and joined Miles’ band of the time. He has stayed in the US ever since, but remains a regular visitor to UK including two annual visits as visiting lecturer to the jazz course at Birmingham Conservatoire. He now leads a massively influential quintet and another very important big band. There is also an octet which has an album due to be released shortly. But the project he seemed most enthusiastic about when I have talked to him during his visits to Birmingham is the collaboration with Spanish flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela and his flamenco team.

Dave and Pepe were introduced by a mutual friend Mario Pacheco and they have been working together for a few years now, initially studying and learning from each other through mutual respect, then doing some special concerts and finally making a recording. I have heard an initial sample of that recording and the interweaving of Dave’s bass and Pepe’s guitar is magical. They are accompanied by another flamenco guitarist and two cajon players, the rhythmic box that the player sits on to play. I know that Dave is very proud of his relationship with Pepe and of the work they have done together with only musical language to bring them together; Pepe speaks little English and Dave little Spanish.

Dave says on his website, “we played the first concerts in 2007 with a group that also included Carlos Cormona on guitar and Juan Cormona and Bandolero on Cajon. There was a great feeling in the group and I loved the music we made together so we repeated the project in 2008, adding Josemi Cormona on guitar, and then again in 2009 with Pirana on Cahon.”

Pepe Habichuela is a major figure in flamenco and is part of one of the great dynasties of that music. He began in the Sacromonte caves in Granada, but is now based in Madrid. He has worked with a few other jazz artists notably trumpeter Don Cherry and Nitin Sawhney. In this project Dave and Pepe concentrate on some of the most important pieces in the flamenco repertoire.

Dave Holland and Pepe Habichuela play the 2010 Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Saturday 1 May 2010 – 7:00 pm (90mins)

Cheltenham Town Hall – Main Hall
Tickets : £22 / £20 / £17


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