This project is the result of my time spent living in Spain between 2009 and 2010. While there, I was introduced to many great musicians and friends as well as exposed to flamenco music. Part of the reason I moved to Spain in 2009 (from Chicago) was because I met a friend from Spain who was living in Chicago and he was a great contact to have while I was trying to get started there. His name was Pau (Catalan for Paul) and his family gave me a place to stay and introduced me to some musicians in Barcelona. Over the years, they’ve helped me a lot in the process of becoming a Euro-American so that’s why the project is dedicated to Pau, his wife Nuria, and their son (who I babysat on occasion) Nofre.
Overall, the project is intriguing to me because the genre of Flamenco Jazz is primarily relegated to Spanish/European musicians and not explored much on this side of the Atlantic. When I proposed the project for grant consideration, I wanted to show that Flamenco Jazz is different than Latin Jazz and can be used to enhance Jazz Music by utilizing the great rhythmic and melodic traditions from Spain. While such jazz artists as Chick Corea and Jerry Gonzalez have previously blended the genres, I wanted to take a more traditional approach between the two and really focus on presenting an authentic representation of the material not just from a technical perspective, but also from a cultural perspective.
To make this project possible, I used my own jazz quintet (composed of all Chicago musicians) plus two additional musicians whom I’ve played with in other musical circles. Patricia Ortega is a vocalist in a Chicago flamenco pop group called “Las Guitarras de España” and since I also play in that group from time to time, I knew that her talents and knowledge of flamenco would be helpful. Javier Saume is one of maybe two cajón players in Chicago and is really the best at playing this genre. His talent was necessary to round out the rhythm section and make sure that there was a blend of the styles and not too much reliance on the jazz idiom.
Due to the fact that this album is a blend of two genres, I included descriptive terms used in flamenco to describe each song. While there are many different types of flamenco songs (usually based on the rhythm or form used), I utilized five of the more popular types. Rumba is a popular latin rhythm in 4/4 time and used in Spain as well as Latin America. Tangos is found in flamenco and since it’s related to the Rumba, it’s generally heard as a slower version. Bulerías is only found in flamenco and it’s a particular 2 bar rhythmic sequence felt more in 3, 6, or 12. It’s generally a faster tempo but can be played at all tempos. Tanguillos is a combination of 2 over 3 where it’s felt in 3 but has cross accents. Sevillana is a popular dance form in Spain felt as a fast 3.
Greg Duncan is an emerging artist and freelance jazz trumpet player based in Chicago, Illinois. His quintet plays contemporary straight-ahead jazz that grooves with a mixture of blues, swing, and even flamenco. He has toured all over the world with various groups and performed at top jazz clubs in both Chicago and Europe.
Duncan came to Chicago in 2003 by way of Washington State and Texas. He grew up in Tri-Cities, Washington and studied jazz at Washington State University. He graduated with a Masters Degree in Music from the well-respected University of North Texas in 2001 and started working as a professional musician full-time. In 2002 he toured the United States and Japan with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and was a featured soloist in addition to composing and arranging for the band. His writing appeared on the Washington State University Big Band CD in 2003 and he also was invited to conduct an original composition that same year at the Southwest Regional College Music Society Conference. In 2006 and 2009, Duncan traveled and performed in Spain, where he picked up some flamenco sounds and incorporated them into his group. His debut recording with his quintet came in 2007 (“Unveiled”) and it was released by the prestigious OA2 record label. The recording received extensive radio play and earned these remarks by jazz critics:
“Backed by a crew of solid young talent, Greg Duncan has unveiled a new force in jazz.” Jim Shulstad (Jazz Review.com)
“Duncan’s playing most often reminds of early– to mid-period Miles, certainly in sound if not always in terms of phrases.” Grego Applegate Edwards (Cadence Magazine)
As a freelance trumpet player in Chicago, he has performed with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Marco Polo, Sabertooth, Las Guitarras De España, Richie Cole, and many others. Duncan has studied with several prominent jazz trumpet players such as John Swana, Joe Magnarelli, and Al Hood. Also, while in Spain he studied flamenco rhythms on the cajón rhythm instrument. His style reflects all of these influences and continues to develop more interesting nuances.