On 23rd February the Boualem Bessaih opera house in Algiers will be the venue for the performance by the pianist from Menorca Marco Mezquida and the Catalan guitarist Chicuelo. In a performance organized jointly by the Institut Ramon Llull and the Agence Algérienne pour le Rayonnement Culturel (AARC), in collaboration with the Mediterranean Fair of Manresa, the musicians will be presenting Conexión, a disc that fuses jazz with flamenco.
The magical encounter between guitarist Juan Gómez, better known as Chicuelo, and pianist Marco Mezquida, aided and abetted by percussionist Paco de Mode, resulted in Conexión (2017), an album of jazz and flamenco sounds, and which is indebted to such great names as Paco de Lucía, Tomatito and Michel Camilo. In it, the musicians encounter one another, without asking where they have come from. They breathe in a language called art, they converse, and they do so with keys and strings. They speak of music in the language of Mare Nostrum. They explain to us the music of a port, music that is like water: it is agitated, mixed, and so the water is sea, the sea is water, water that is every sea. Thus the musicians sail, they converge.
The Mediterranean Fair of Manresa is a performance market put together with new artistic creations inspired by the cultural traits typical of Catalonia and the Mediterranean Sea. With this aim, the Mediterranean Fair develops a National and International Plan of Action with the desire to become an agent for the promotion of our artists. In the framework of this strategic line, four years ago the Fair began negotiations with the Agence Algérienne pour le Rayonnement Culturel (AARC), with which it signed a collaboration agreement. As a result of this, in 2014 the group El-Day visited Catalonia, accompanied by a delegation of AARC professionals, and played a concert in Manresa. Closing the circle, the Catalan flamenco artist Pere Martínez performed in October 2016 in the prestigious Ibn Zaydoun hall in Algiers, setting foot for the first time on the African continent thanks to the Mediterranean Fair. The performance by Chicuelo & Marco Mezquida comes as part of this collaboration; in 2016 the IRL included it in its Cabaret Catalan programme at the Fiesta des Suds (Marseille, France), the first performance of this show abroad, which had been premiered at the Mediterranean Fair in Manresa a few days earlier.
Juan Gómez, Chicuelo, is one of the most important guitarists on today’s flamenco scene and, at the same time, one of the most interesting and prolific composers in recent years. Throughout his career he has played guitar at the Tablao de Carmen with Mario Escudero, Angelita Vargas, La Tolea, Yerbabuena, Sara Baras, Adrián Galia, Belén Maya, Antonio ‘El Pipa’ and Joaquin Grilo, among others. He has accompanied cantaors like Enrique Morente, Miguel Poveda, Duquende, Mayte Martín, Rancapino, Chano Lobato, José Mercé, El Cigala, Potito and Carmen Linares. He has shared the stage with musicians like Chano Domínguez, Carles Benavent, Jorge Pardo and Jordi Bonell, and he has worked with the pianist Maria Joâo Pires. As a soloist, he has released two albums, Cómplices (Harmonia Mundi, 2000) and Diapasión (Flamenco Records, 2007).
Marco Mezquida, from Menorca, has become one of the most acclaimed and sought-after musicians on the jazz scene, as is shown by his intense creative activity in concert and in the studio with many of the best musicians in the country. Praised for his versatility and his powerful musical magnetism, he is one of the most complete and expressive artists of his generation. He has recorded more than 40 discs: 10 as the leader playing his own music, and 30 as a sideman in influential groups on the current scene.
The Boualem Bessaih opera house is one of the city’s most important cultural venues. It opened in 2016, and can hold 1,400 people.
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