Kepa Junkera & Rolando Luna – Fandago: Habana Sessions

Kepa Junkera & Rolando Luna – Fandago: Habana Sessions

Für die CD „Fandango: Habana Sessions“ haben sich zwei gefunden: auf der einen Seite Kepa Junkera, hyperaktiver baskischer Akkordeon-Virtuose und Jäger des verlorenen Schatzes der Volks-Tanzmusik, auf der anderen Rolando Luna, in Kuba schon fast zum neuen Piano-Gott avancierter Breitband-Pianist mit Faible für Jazz und kubanische Straßenmusik. Beide zusammen sind die Protagonisten des zweiten Teils von Fandango, einer von Junkera gestarteten Reihe neuer Weltmusik-Versuche, in denen er seine eigene baskische Akkordeon-Tanzmusik mit Musikern aus aller Welt konfrontiert, und im produktiven Crash ganz ungeahnte neuen Musik-Sterne entstehen läßt.

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Im Jahre 2009 begann der baskische Akkordeon-Spieler Kepa Junkera ein ganz persönliches Projekt, dem etwas abgeschabten Begriff “Weltmusik” wieder neues, sehr frisches Leben einzuhauchen: “Fandango” nannte er diesen Plan, nach dem alten spanischen Tanz, und es ist weit mehr als nur ein Name, es ist eine Idee. Wie auch die Wurzeln des Fandango bis nach Afrika und in die römische Antike zurück verfolgt werden können, startete Junkera zu einer nach vorn offenen Reise um die Welt, um seine eigene Musik – die baskische Akkordeon-Tradition, gespielt auf dem kleinen diatonischen Trikitixa – mit den Rhythmen von Musikerkollegen aus verschiedensten Kulturkreisen zusammen zu bringen. Beginn der Reise war 2009 eine Kollaboration mit dem französischen Melonious Quartett, ausgewiesenen Spezialisten der Mandoline. 2010 schließlich folgte Teil zwei des Projekts, die aktuelle CD “Habana Sessions” mit dem kubanischen Pianisten Rolando Luna, mit dem beide Musiker nun auch auf Tour gehen.

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Für Kepa Junkera ist diese musikalische Zusammenarbeit nicht einfach nur ein weiteres CD-Projekt, es ist auch eine Reise in die Zukunft der baskischen Musik. Sein Instrument, die Trikitixa, wird auf baskisch auch Eskusoinu genannt, “Handmusik”, und steht genau dafür: für eine schnelle, volkstümliche, und vor allem: sehr tanzbare Akkordeon-Weise. Junkera füllt diese Vorlage seit über 25 Jahren mit dem ihm eigenen überbordenden Temperament, und gilt heute weit über baskische Grenzen hinweg als der größte Trikitixa-Virtuose. Seine Rhythmen und schnellen Läufe zeigen die Verbindungen der baskischen Musik zu irisch-keltischer Tanztradition, wie auch zum energetischen Forró aus Brasilien.

Aus dieser Tradition heraus trieb es Junkera schon seit Anfang seiner Karriere Mitte der 80er Jahre beständig hinaus in die europäische Weite, ausgerüstet mit einem Instrument, das nicht nur in Bilbao schon vom Hinschauen die Tanzbeine zucken läßt, und einer unstillbaren Neugier auf jegliche moderne, folkloristische Musiktradition: von schneidenden bulgarischen Sängerinnen über Gruppen wie die Chieftains bis hin zu kompletten Blasorchestern ließ er nichts aus, Kopf und Beine der Zuhörerschaft zu erobern, immer im Geiste der “Handmusik” seiner heimatlichen Märkte und (Groß-)Familienfeste. Unnötig zu erwähnen, dass Junkera dementsprechend auch ein begnadeter Entertainer ist…
In dieser Hinsicht – ebenso wie in musikalischer – hat Junkera in Rolando Luna einen ganz ebenbürtigen Bruder im Geiste gefunden. Luna gilt, trotz seiner jungen Jahre (geb. 1978) in Kuba schon als ausgemachter Piano-Gott, und würdiger Nachfolger von gut gelaunten Meistern ihres Instruments wie Ruben Gonzales. Gleich Junkera trieb es auch Luna bald nach dem Konservatorium hinaus in die Welt, nach Kanada, in die USA und nach Europa, um verschiedene Stile zu entdecken und auszuprobieren, vom klassischen Jazz über Straßenschlager bis hin zur traditionellen kubanischen Musik. 2007 wurde er mit dieser Mischung in Montreux gleich doppelter Preisträger, sowohl in der Sparte Solo Piano als auch – natürlich! – mit dem begehrten Publikumspreis. Inzwischen ist er als Pianist mit den Legenden der kubanischen Musik, der Band des Buena Vista Social Club, rund um die Welt unterwegs, und spielt nebenbei zahlreiche eigene Kollaborationen mit verschiedensten Musikern ein, von Isaac Delgado über die Havana Street Band bis eben:
Kepa Junkera.

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Die der gemeinsamen Tour zugrunde liegende CD “Habana Sessions” wurde vollständig in Havanna aufgenommen, und atmet viel karibisches Flair und Lebensgefühl, kombiniert mit baskisch-galizischer Volkstradition. Beide Musiker legen hier ihre Wurzeln offen, und spielen im besten Sinne miteinander, mit Neugier und gegenseitigem Respekt, und schaffen dabei ganz spielerisch neue Horizonte sowohl für die kubanische als die baskische Tanzmusik.

Rolando Luna

Born: 1978, Cuba Rolando Luna Carrillo learned to play guitar at primary school before opting to study piano at the Gerardo Guanche Conservatory. There, he took part in various competitions, winning a prize for his interpretation of Cuban music. He studied classical piano at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and, in 1999, won first prize at the international jazz competition Jo-jazz-99. After performing in a group in Cuba and making his first appearances on television, he spent eight months as a member of the Latin Street Group in Canada, before joining Paulo FG and his Elite with whom he travelled throughout Europe and Latin America. His first CD, “En la Luna”, which included some of his own compostitions, came top in the Best Recording category of the Cubadisco 2002 Awards. Following the success of this recording, he formed a band called Nueva Luna with whom he performed in venues all over Cuba. In 2006, Rolando was a semi-finalist at the Martial Solal International Jazz Piano Competition before his double victory in Montreux the following year, First price and the audience price. Rolando has recorded with many artists, including Haila Monpie, Fernando Álvarez, Amaury Pérez, Gerardo Alfonso, Havana Street Band, Pablo Milanes, Isaac Delgado, Leonel O Zúñiga , Tie Macedo and Andy Montañez. He has played at jazz festivals in Europe, Japan, Canada and the United States and recently toured the UK with the Buena Vista Social Club. Discography as sideman: CD ¨Haila¨, Abdala 2000; CD, Una manera de decir ¨, Fernando Álvarez 2001; CD ¨Algo en común ¨, Amaury Pérez 2001; CD “Momentos” Gerardo Alfonso Abdala 2002; CD “Ponle nombre a ese bolero”, Héctor Téllez Abdala,2002, CD ¨Gardi¨; Bis Music 2002, CD Veneración, Habana Jam Session. Kamita Label Japon.2002, CD Versos en el Cielo Isaac Delgado. Bis Music 2002; CD Haila Live. Bis Music 2003; CD Humo de Tabaco. Alex Cuba band. Caracol Record 2004; CD Raza Gerardo Alfonso. Bis Music 2004; CD La rumba soy Yo 2005, CD Homenaje a Frank Emilio, etc. CD “con Guapería” Leonel O Zúñiga & Havana Street Band, young virtuous (30) Rolando Luna.  Rolando had already impressed when he won last year the piano solo competition in Montreux, and he confirms now that he ‘s one of the future great jazz pianists in the world.  His complicity in a duet with Cachaito Lopez was one of the most moving moments of the show.

Kepa Junkera

The composer, producer and musician Kepa Junkera born in Bilbao in 1965 and lived his childhood and youth in the neighborhood of Rekalde, which undoubtedly marked his character. His first contact with music was coming from his Aitite (grandfather in Basque, his maternal grandfather) who, in the pilgrimages of the time, accompanied his daughter (Kepa´s mother) with the tambourine while she was taking the first dance steps as the couple of Txilibrin.

Since then Kepa Junkera, a self-taught, restless and brave man has begun his hard long journey through the world of the traditional music, creating a unique style while making his way to become one of the most international musicians of the Basque Country.

His recordings have revolutionized many musical areas, as the trikitixa (diatonic accordion) and the traditional music, his ingenious improvisations or even the way to blend different styles of music to enrich the Basque Musical Scene, but maintaining these recordings deeply rooted in the traditional music. Kepa has created his music with no frontiers, mixing aromas, rhythms and colors from so many places and cultures, opening up to the world without any complexes, with respect, curiosity and overall with enthusiasm of anyone who loves what he does.

In his discography we start off with Kepa, Zabaleta eta Motriku (1987) where we get a slight idea of that great transformation in the manner of interpretation as in composing with the trikitixa.  The next album that will follow is TRIKI UP (1990) and TRIKITIXA ZOOM (1991) combining his trikitixa with Jazz, giving him two avant-garde albums, a milestone inside the traditional trikitixa, music that was ahead of his time.  TRANS EUROPE DIATONIQUE (1993) is the reflection of experiences lived with the collaborations of big musicians as Ricardo Tessi and John Kirkpatrick after touring through Europe, having that prefect blend of different styles of music. KALEJIRA AL-BUK (1994), in this album Kepa, focuses his recording to become a more careful, elaborated and complex music, not knowing that from there on forth that will become the basis of his music.  LAU ESKUTARA (1995) is one of his most special albums, an intensive one on one with the Portuguese musician, Julio Pereira, which leads into a beautiful blending of music of these terrific artists.  LEONEN ORROAK (1996) is another challenge for the diversity of styles.  This time the musician of Rekalde accompanied by Ibon Koteron and a long list of musicians, collaborating together to pay tribute to the great albokari (the person who plays the alboka- the alboka is a ram’s horn played with a circular breathing technique) Leon Bilbao.  An album deeply rooted in our background music that is considered a highly elaborated production.

In 1998 BILBAO HORA 00:00H one of his most important recordings in which more than 40 musicians worked together, to pay tribute to his native city.  Finally with this recording Kepa Junkera begins to receive numerous awards but most important his recognition worldwide, the hard dedicated work of this musician of Biscay.  MAREN (2001) an album with the output port in the Basque Country and with arrival in Armenia, Bulgaria and Albania among other countries.   K (2003) a double live recorded album at the Arriaga Theatre and was awarded The Best Folk Album in the Latin Grammy Awards. Athletic Bihotzez (2004) a very special album dedicated to his favorite soccer team, The Athletic Club of Bilbao.

Two years later his presents HIRI (2006) in where he recalls, evokes and dreams of cities, cities images with their own particular stories, expressing it all through his music, through his trikitixa.  In January 2007 the prestigious World Music Charts of Europe selected HIRI as the best album of World Music.

In September 2008 he presents ETXEA. A CD that includes 27 traditional songs of the Basque Culture and surrounded by wonderful artists as:  Estrella Morente, José Antonio Ramos, Dulce Pontes, Miguel Bosé, Ana Belén, Victor Manuel, Sole Giménez, Miguel Rios, Michel Camilo, Andrés Calamaro, Joaquin Diaz, Amancio Prada, Roberto Fonseca, Tito Paris and so up to 42 singers and 15 musicians of recognized fame to found this particular musical house, a house that is opened up to anyone who wants to come in.

Almost a year after ETXEA, June 2009, Kepa presents Provença Sessions, series Fandango. A compilation of songs written entirely by himself,  Kepa Junkera that on this occasion was accompanied by the Quartet Melonius implementing them in a different and innovative, creating new sound space in which to discover another facet of the music by the composer from Bilbao.

In november 2009 Kepa Junkera presented, KALEA.  Actually it is the second part of the trilogy that began with ETXEA. On this occasion Kepa Junkera has travelled to America to meet and record with many artists 24 themes of our traditional Basque music. Altogether 82 artists from 11 different countries among which stand out singers like Juanes, Lila Downs, Pablo Milanés, Ximena Sariñana, Liliana Vitale, Pedro Aznar, Patricia Sosa, León Gieco, Susana Baca, Ivan Lins, Pamela Rodríguez, Nora Sarmoria etc. and musicians of the stature of  Lito Vitale, Celso Duarte, Leonardo Amuedo, Carlinhos Antunes, José Antonio Ramos, Armando Marçal, Da Lua or Ernesto Snajer among others which have worked on this record that reflects  a project that transcends the barriers of an ancestral language.

We also have to add to his discography the infinite of collaboration he has been asked to participate, a diverse of musicians as: La Bottine Souriante, María del Mar Bonet, Justin Vali, Hedningarna, Phil Cunningham, Liam O´Flynn, Béla Fleck, José Antonio Ramos, Xosé Manuel Budiño, Alasdair Fraser, Andy Narell, La Musgaña, Glen Velez, Carlos Nuñez, Voces Búlgaras, Caetano Veloso, Marina Rossell, Andreas Wollenwaider, The Chieftains, Dulce Pontes and Pat Metheny among many others. And we have to mention the long list of singles and many composed themes for different firms, but if there is one we have to highlight, without a doubt, it will be Mari Jaia, a theme dedicated to the queen of the festivals of Bilbao, that has become the anthem of the city.   Underlining also Kepa´s participation in various cultural activities in favor of Euskara as Korrika, Ibilaldia, Nafarroa Oinez, Herri Urrats, Euskal Eskola Publikoa etc. as also collaborating with writer Bernardo Atxaga at the ceremony “Living Memory”, a tribute in memory of the victims of the Spanish civil war.

As a producer, Kepa, produces all his albums but has also produced a long list of recordings of many other musicians, among which in 2000 he co-produced of one of the most important albums of the group Oskorri URA and QUERCUS ENDORPHINA (2001) for Oreka TX, a major bet for the txalaparta (an ancestral xylophone played by horizontal planks hit with vertical sticks) and where he starts to carry out and develop this ancestral instrument and continues now as the Artistic Director of The Basque Txalaparta Company (ETXAK).  We can not leave out that, the year 2004 produces the album AIREA of Ibon Koteron that follows with the recording of LEONEN ORROAK, trying to drive and to evolve the alboka as a musical instrument.  In 2009 produced the CD of the txistulari (the person who plays the Basque flute) Garikoitz Mendizabal SOSEGUA, developing the txistu as a musical instrument and opening new spaces in achieving a recognized spot in the music world as it deserves.

With his incredible laborious career behind him, Kepa Junkera today is one of the most prolific Basque musicians.  It wouldn’t be right to say that he works hard only in his albums as in composed themes, which is very true but he has also opened a door, a musical and personal one that is reflected in all his live concerts, filling you with the energy , rhythm and vitality he pours out.  Thanks to what he gives out in the concerts he has earn a huge list of cities around the world wanting him to perform, New York, Paris, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, etc., one of the concerts most charged with energy was the Getxo´s Folk Festival with the Symphony Orchestra of the Basque Country.  Performing in numerous different editions of the Celtic Connections in Glasgow, tours in many countries; Europe, United States, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Japan among others admiring the music of the diatonic accordion of Kepa Junkera.

Another point to mention, Kepa Junkera´s music was also chosen by the National Dance Company for one of their shows and has also been selected by Pedro Almodóvar but he also taught in Musikene, the Superior Music School of the Basque Country, leading both, traditional music as their instruments to a new area much more in tune with our times.

HABANA SESSIONS is the new CD of Kepa Junkera that has been released in March of 2010. This new album includes 11 musical pieces of familiar themes, all composed by the musician of Biscay in which you will only hear the sounds of a piano and a trikitixa, that comes to complete the project FANDANGO, started in June 2009 with Provença Sessions.

Recorded entirely in Havana, Cuba in April 2009, this album is totally contagious of quality and freshness with the trikitixa of Kepa Junkera and his melodies spiced with the simplicity and the subtlety of the Cuban, Rolando Luna, pianist of the “Buena Vista Social Club” leading together in a different and personal album, full of strength and with a special energy, receiving each other’s music with absolute complicity and seeking to convey the essence of a direct concert, of the close contact with the public.

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