As we entered a vast circular lounge a trio of musicians was being introduced by the Spanish Ambassador to Thailand. “I’m from Barcelona, from Catalonia Spain. I’m Ignasi Terraza, a jazz piano player. What can I tell you about my music? For me, jazz is a kind of balance between originality and tradition, and jazz has a huge tradition of music to offer. I could define myself [as] looking for my own voice within the tradition of jazz.”
This introduction from the talented jazz pianist came during the second time we spoke to each other. I first contacted him several months after he had performed in Bangkok. By that time, I had the pleasure of listening to a few of his recordings. For me, the recorded music brought back vivid memories of the show and showcased a style of jazz that was upbeat, straight ahead, and fun. Our first conversation would be brief, for I had initially phoned him when he was in the middle of a rehearsal. He was gracious enough to invite me to speak with him again the next day for a conversation that would prove enlightening. I would learn more about Mr. Terraza, the circumstances behind his trip to Bangkok, and also, in a larger context, learn about the state of jazz in Spain, past, and present.
The first time I was introduced to his sound was at The Living Room, a popular Bangkok jazz lounge on the second floor of the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. I had been fortunate enough to visit this cavernous lounge on a few occasions, where house band “The Shawn Kelley Trio” usually performs. On a Friday in mid-October, I returned with friends, during which occasion we noticed a guest band was billed to play that evening. A sign at the entrance of the lounge read, “The Ignasi Terraza Trio.” I searched my memory of jazz artists and drew a blank. Intrigued, we reserved a seat. For the rest of the evening, we would be bobbing our heads and smiling as a trio that showcased great energy together played on.
The Ignasi Terraza Trio had come to play some venues in Bangkok and was receiving a warm reception. Tonight, they were recording the performance and were hopeful to return in a year’s time to present this music in its final format. Mr. Terraza was led to his piano with help from his bandmates. He could not see, but the music he would subsequently play was full of color nonetheless. He sang aloud as he played the chords going from sentimental ballads, old-time swing, bossa nova, to traditional and original.
A few adjectives typically used when describing the playing style of the trio include swinging, cool, traditional, and soulful. These are all apt descriptions, and I would add two more: unique and sexy. Mr. Terraza’s search for a unique voice amid the traditions of jazz brings a new twist to old-time sounds that are refreshing. On the album In a Sentimental Groove, for instance, swinging songs such as “La Filadora (Catalan)” is of an old-fashioned flavor, yet sound fresh and make you want to tap your feet and move. On the same album, moody and tender songs, such as “An Emotional Dance” and “Canco No. 6” create a sensual elegance that stimulates and arouses. Broadly speaking, Ignasi weaves together elements of jazz from the first three-quarters of the last century into a contemporary tapestry. While mining the treasure of jazz’s rich past, a modern sound emerges.
These thoughts ran through my mind as Ignasi continued.
“We came to Bangkok, invited by the Spanish Embassy. The Ambassador of Spain in Bangkok, we know each other from years ago when we met in the Philippines, Manila. He loves our music, and well, he wants to introduce us, and he made it possible for us to come here this last October.”
The trio had a good time playing with some local musicians at a few of their performances. The group toured the city and would play at the Cultural Center, The Siam City Hotel (with Kamala Sukosol joining in), and finally, The Living Room in Sukhumvit.
“The musicians, well, we came to Bangkok with a trio.[Myself], Esteve Pi and Pierre Boussaguet.” Ignasi continues “Pierre Boussaguet is one of the best bass players in Europe and is living in France, and we played together not always, but quite a lot of times. Esteve is living in Barcelona and we play together a lot. And that is all the members of the trio. Also in Bangkok, we were playing with a lot of successful Thai musicians, and also a singer called Kamala (Sukosol) where we played our first show. All around the level of musicians allowed us to have good jam sessions together.”
My mind went back to the performance.
Bassist Pierre Boussaguet plucked the strings of his upright bass with a look of serious contemplation. The Frenchman had the cool and confident stance of a matador waiting for the bull to charge. Drummer Esteve Pi turned his head away from the two other members of the trio and closed his eyes as if lost in thought. He proceeded with a drum solo; his shoulders bobbing up and down like a percolator as he guided the beat to climax. On cue, the trio regrouped to bring the tune back home.
Ignasi’s voice comes back through. “We enjoyed [the country] very much. We had only been to Bangkok, but our stay in Bangkok was excellent. I enjoyed very much the city and the culture. We are trying to return soon and get more involved in this country’s culture. [We] were very touched by it.”
“As you know, the last time we were in Thailand, we recorded our record in Bangkok. We are now editing the takes, and we are going to present next October or November in Bangkok. At the moment, there are no concrete dates, but there is a discussion with friends and promoters to perform in Bangkok next autumn.”
Live at the Living Room, Bangkok by Ignasi Terraza
The liner notes were commissioned on behalf of the Ignasi Terraza Trio (a talented Spanish jazz trio) for a live jazz CD recorded in Bangkok in 2011, titled Live at the Living Room. I was asked to provide a review of the performance and perform a recorded narration of the written content, to be included over music on the final track of the album. Both the review and spoken performance were precisely spaced and timed to fit the needs of the production.