The series of concerts and masterclasses Liceu Jazz has made headlines in the specialized magazines Down Beat and Jazz Times, both of great international importance in the world of jazz. Jazz journalists and critics Ashley Kahn and Ted Panken have dedicated four articles to the Big Jazz and Modern Music Ensembles of the Liceu Conservatory, as well as the Blindfold Tests with Jeff Ballard and Bill McHenry that took place within the framework of the Liceu Jazz.
Liceu Jazz Masterclasses & Concerts has established itself as one of the most international series of the Fundació Conservatori Liceu and the city of Barcelona. At the Liceu Jazz, the most renowned international figures on the current jazz scene and the emerging talent of the Center’s students and alumni come together and share programming, experience and knowledge thanks to the patronage of the Fundació de Música Ferrer-Salat, and in collaboration with the Barcelona Jazz Festival, which in 2021 celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Kahn and Panken have given a very positive review of the projects presented in the “Carta Blanca” to the Liceu Conservatory, where projects have taken place with the participation of students from the center, led by professors such as Bill McHenry, Michael League, Toni Vaquer or Sergi Vergés, as well as guest professors such as Marc Miralta, Alex Dee or Gabriel Amargant.
Ted Panken highlights in his article the performance of the Liceu Jazz Group, directed by Bill McHenry and with the participation of Marc Miralta, and the talent of Victor Carrascosa, who “matched McHenry idea for idea with strong tone”, and Estefania Chamorro, who “guided the flow from the drum set with poise and keen dynamics”, both students of the Liceu Conservatory.
About the Gran Ensemble Liceu’s performance, which featured drummer Jeff Ballard, Panken says that “students navigated Toni Vaquer’s challenging charts with aplomb and attention”. Jeff Ballard brought energy and decisiveness to the Grand Ensemble, and connected with the students and the conductor from the beginning.
Regarding the Liceu BLAM Collective, led by guest faculty member Michael League and featuring Alex Dee, Panken comments that “the show was joyous, ebullient and sloppy”, and that Liceu Conservatory student Sara Lilu “rendered Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come with a deep soulfulness”.
It is also worth mentioning the great performance of the Liceu Big Band, another of the conservatory’s great groups, conducted by Sergi Vergés and with the special collaboration of Gabriel Amargant.
Overall, Panken notes that “the informed focus on the Afro-diasporic roots of jazz and pop that League and McHenry provide adds a consequential layer to the Conservatori’s curriculum”. Ashley Kahn, on the other hand, pays attention to the “longstanding programming approach of mixing local and international artists” that the Voll-Damm Barcelona Jazz Festival promotes. He also highlights the long-standing relationship that the Liceu Conservatory Foundation has maintained with jazz and modern music since 1993, when it incorporated the AULA de Música Moderna i Jazz, the first school to offer jazz and modern music courses in Spain, founded in 1978. Finally, Kahn highlights the Fundació de Música Ferrer-Salat as a patron of the Liceu Jazz.
Ashley Kahn and Ted Panken’s visit, as well as their interviews with Jeff Ballard and Bill McHenry, were a great incentive for the Liceu Jazz concert series and masterclasses, and they make patent the effort to update and modernize the Liceu Conservatory.
Below are the links to the articles published in the international media: