Faithful to its mission to win spaces for music in what is supposedly the most inactive month in the city, the San Miguel Mas i Mas Festival began the 2010 decade offering original performances at new venues. In the year when the Palau de la Música Catalana began a new direction, Mas i Mas decided to incorporate a new activity into the programme for 2010: three daily sessions of acoustic music in different styles, lasting no more than 30 minutes, played by small groups in the venue’s chamber music room. Directed by the musical journalist Pere Pons, the Palau 30’ cycle brought a series of little gems of flamenco, jazz, blues, chamber music, cançó and world music to the most intimate space at the Barcelona concert hall.
The mini-festival was opened by a top-class duet: the singer Sílvia Pérez Cruz with Raül “Refree” Fernández on the guitar. Other outstanding pairs in the first Palau ’30 were the fado singer Névoa with the guitarist Vicenç Solsona; the singer Laura Simó with the historic figure Francesc Burrull on the piano; the young flamenco performers Paula Domínguez and Marta Robles; the tango musicians Marcelo Mercadante and Gustavo Battaglia; the blend between the Argentinian jazzman Horacio Fumero and the tocaor Pedro Javier González; the youngsters Celeste Alías and Marco Mezquida, and the jazzy Mozart of Llibert Fortuny and Manel Camp, who closed a successful cycle that also included two solo performances by big names on the Spanish jazz scene: Ignasi Terraza and Pepino Pascual.
A classic figure in African music, the Malian Rakia Traoré and a historic figure in Spanish pop, the Valencia Sole Giménez, opened and closed the San Miguel Mas i Mas Festival ‘10 in the main hall of L’Auditori and the Palau de la Música Catalana respectively. They were the only concerts in large-capacity venues. A medium-sized venue, Luz de Gas, hosted the concerts most closely linked to the world of funk and groove: the veterans Defunkt led by trombonist Joe Bowie in one of the highlights of the season; Just 4 Fun and Flavio Rodríguez from Barcelona, and, as a notable exception, the gospel of the British singer Lurine Cato and Ramon Escalé’s Barcelona Gospel Messengers. Just as rhythmic and danceable, or even more so, was the techno music heard at the Moog, with DJs like Hardfloor, DMX Krew, Mike Dred and Omar León.
At the other extreme we might place the performances in the now established 30 Classical Minutes at Caixa Catalunya’s Pedrera. The Romantic piano of Jean-François Dichamp and Alfredo Armero, Kalina Macuta and Daniel Blanch performing Schubert; the guitarist Jorge Arango; the soprano Maria Escobar with the pianist Alan Branch; her fellow soprano Beatriz Jiménez Marconi; the Arriaga Trio and the Nexus Piano Duo are some of the classical music artists making up the bill for 2010, when the Jamboree programmed artists of the calibre of Esperanza Spalding, with Leo Genovese and Francisco Mela, Víctor Mendoza and the Barcelona Percussion Project, Ronald Baker, Marc Ayza, Albert Bover, Lucrecia, Josep María Farràs, Jaume Vilaseca, Eva Cortés, Xavier Dotras and Five In Orbit.
For its flamenco programme, the Tarantos chose groups led by Lluís Avedaño and Pedro Córdoba.
As a highlight of the San Miguel Mas i Mas Festival ‘10, we should mention its original closing concert in the middle of the Plaça Reial, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Jamboree. On 30 August 2010, Alfons Carrascosa’s Big Acoustic Band performed on a podium at one end of the 18th-century square, together with the Barcelona Blues Big Band, and a WTF! Jam Session was improvised.
Under 2010’s spirit of renewal, the 2011 festival maintained the successful Palau ‘30 cycle, opened by a top-class Spanish pop-rock duet: the singer Santiago Auserón and the guitarist Joan Vinyals. The Grau-Carles-Nomoto castanet trio, the fado singer Névoa with guitarist Vicenç Solsona and the Fumero-González pairing were back, and the manouche performers Biel Ballester and Leo Hipaucha, tango musicians Cristina Villalonga and Gustavo Battaglia, the Soulimane-Bout-Zerualdi trio, the singer Ana Rossi with the pianist Elisabet Raspall, and the ethnic duo Mû with Sasha Agranov, were incorporated, together with others. At Palau ‘30, there was also an outstanding solo performance by the saxophonist Llibert Fortuny and a closure concert starring the cantaora Ginesa Ortega.
A true legend of funk, Maceo Parker, offered a three-hour show to the audience who packed the Palau de la Música Catalana in the most rhythmic opening to the San Miguel Mas i Mas Festival ever remembered. Rhythmic – and also loud – was one of the new features of the 2011 festival – the Moog Rock Club mini-cycle with the indie scene bands NudoZurdo, James McCain Band and Joan Colomo + L’Esperit! As for dance music, the Jamboree hosted the DJs R de Rumba, DJ Wilor, DJ Twelve and DJ Fonk, incorporating the Jamboree’s disco sessions into the bill for the event.
Classical music, represented in the 30 Minutes of Classical Music at CatalunyaCaixa’s La Pedrera, had performers like the pianists Marija Ivanovic, Akiko Nomoto, Katia Michel, Jean-François Dichamp, Cecilio Tieles and Enrique Bernaldo de Quirós, the guitarist Alí Arango, Albéniz Quartet, the Granados Duo, the Arriaga Trio and the singers Beatriz Jiménez, Ricardo Velásquez, Ana G. Schwedhelm and Elías Benito Arranz. Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the death of the composer Joan Manén, the San Miguel Mas i Mas Festival ’11 decided to pay tribute to him at the opening of the La Pedrera cycle and, above all, with the performance of the work Nova Catalonia, on 11 September 2011 at the Palau de la Música Catalana.
Once again, the Jamboree offered a de luxe programme of jazz, with stars like the trumpeter Tom Harrell; the saxophonist Kenny Garrett; the Jeff Ballard-Miguel Zenón-Lionel Loueke trio; Dave Samuels & Barcelona Percussion Project and the British band Get the Blessing, as well as respected Spanish artists like Fèlix Rossy — with Peter Bernstein; Horacio Fumero & Albert Bover; the Giulia Valle Libera Quintet; Toni Solà; David Pastor; Gonzalo del Val; Dani Nel•lo; Sergi Sirvent and Susana Sheiman & the Ignasi Terraza Trio. As for jazz, highlights included a concert paying tribute to Miles Davis coproduced with Jaç magazine, with an ad-hoc big band conducted by Joan Chamorro, and figures like Andrea Motis, Llibert Fortuny, Matthew Simon, Jordi Bonell and the only Spanish musician to play with Miles Davis: Carles Benavent. The recording of the concert, entitled Sketches of Catalonia, was given to readers of Jaç magazine in CD format.
The flamenco of the group Candelaria and Karime Amaya & Sara Flores could be heard at the Tarantos, in a festival that was officially closed at the Palau de la Música Catalana with an unprecedented gospel session from the British London Community Gospel Choir with the Jamboree Big Latin Band, conducted by a fellow promoter of gospel, Ramon Escalé.