The sound of jazz can be heard every Tuesday night in the 4 Gats restaurant. Kike Angulo and his friends in the 4 Gats Trio provide the mellow notes in this modernist venue, which was first used by Santiago Rusiñol, Ramón Casas and other exponents of fin de siecle culture.
Kike Angulo has been playing the guitar for many years and has toured Europe and America sharing the stage with some of the very best jazz musicians in the process. Deeply knowledgeable of the evolution of the jazz scene in Barcelona, we invited him to our restaurant for a relaxed chat. We sat at one of the tables in the upper mezzanine floor of the establishment to distance ourselves from the background murmur of the diners who habitually patronise the restaurant.
“As jazz musicians we must immerse ourselves in the music 24 hours a day, and share this music with others in what is an enriching experience for all. This transmits the essence of the music, which permeates through the audience during the show.”
These are Kike’s first thoughts on the matter when we begin to talk. However, I press him to go further and explain his own vision for jazz in the city and in the 4 Gats sessions.
Do we have a jazz culture here?
“Since the end of the Spanish dictatorship there has been an explosion in jazz. It all began with the ground-breaking work of Tete Montoliu, in many places a key figure in the jazz scene, who introduced us to traditional jazz. While in Europe jazz had been around for decades, the lack of a jazz tradition here in Spain meant that all the strands of the genre arrived here all of a sudden in a rather haphazard manner and so distorted the knowledge and the culture of jazz. You could actually see this in the musicians here and it was Tete, whose absence we miss, who brought about an awareness and appreciation of the different nuances of this style of music”.
But surely we have moved on…
“Barcelona has always been at the vanguard of cultural movements, and you can perceive this in the way different tendencies in jazz have evolved to this day. There are now diverse styles and novelties that clearly mark both how pioneering trends have developed and also illustrate the tendency to return to the roots of jazz. The genre is also getting a real boost from the popularity of swing and the work of dance schools who are creating a following for it amongst a young crowd. The film The Artist is a good example of this”.
What do you normally play in the 4 Gats?
“Playing in a restaurant at dinner time is actually a return to the roots of jazz. In New Orleans the musicians played while the audience sipped a drink or ate dinner. Years later in Broadway, the members of the big bands playing gigs in the grand music halls would meet up in bars after work and have jam sessions, which were a free way to interpret and feel jazz while in the midst of a crowd who did not behave like the audience in a concert”.
“The recording of the Bill Evans Trio in the Village Vanguard, with Scott Lafaro and Paul Motian is thought by many to be one of the ten most artistically valuable records in the world of jazz. When they asked Paul Motian if it bothered him to hear the background hum of the venue, he replied that this is New York, people come and go, and that is normal. The only thing that bothers me is the 60 dollars that I’m paid“.
“The audience of the 4Gats is knowledgeable and we are often pleasantly surprised by their response and reaction. We incorporate some pieces in the bebop style in all our shows in the restaurant. Technically it is a difficult style that is at the crossroads between the first great age of classic jazz and the second of modern jazz, while being at the centre of the East Coast and West Coast styles. In Barcelona there is no specialist school, but the audience really absorbs the energy that jazz transmits. We ask ourselves what new ideas bebop offers, so as to broaden our horizons and play new tunes. People like bebop; it’s the style they most applaud.”
Where does bebop come from?
“Bebop was born in the shadow of swing. After the Great Crash of 1929 and the two world wars, a sixteen-strong big band was an expensive operation. So bebop groups cropped up with three or four members who kept the energetic spirit and cheer of a big band, but in a smaller and more financially viable format.
Miles Davis, a jazz master, took the opportunity to experiment with this style of music when he was a student in the classical music school of the University of New York. Thanks to this he developed the avant garde of jazz. This is my school and this is why we play swing and bebop in the 4 Gats.”
Biography of Kike
Kike trained in the L’Aula de Jazz of the Conservatorio Superior del Liceo, and with Peter Bernstein, Joe Cohn, Jim Snidero and others in New York, with Rick Pekan in Boston and with Jessey Van Ruller in the Netherlands. He started as a guitarist in the Francesc Burrull Combo and participated in the Festival of Jazz for Young European Musicians in 1998, and has shared a stage with Daymond Bround, Francesc Capella, Jorge Rossi, and Mike Kaupa among others.
He was a member of the Classical Bebop and Swing guitar duo with the guitarist Dave Mitchell, participating in countless national guitar concerts and seminars, as well as the W.A.F. Trio, a group that also featured the organist Phil Wilkinson and the drummer Roberto Faenzi, giving concerts throughout Spain. In New York he worked with well-known musicians such as Joe Cohn, Jack Wilkins, Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Ledonne and Peter Bernstein, and in Europe with Jay Wallis, Fredrik Carlquist, Matthew Simon, Piero Cozzi, Nono Fernández, Torni Solà, Xavi Figuerola and Garry Fimister. He has two record releases to his name: Songbook Fascinating Rhythm and Kike Angulo Trio W.A.F, as well as contributions to collections released by NatTeam Media, such as Gold Jazz Classics.