Interview with ‘Jimmy Glass’ Jazz Bar Owner Chevi Martínez

Jimmy Glass Jazz Bar is Valencia’s best-known jazz club but don’t stroll in expecting to find people in double-breasted suits and kipper ties, drinking whiskey sours to a backdrop of Miles Davis or Billie Holiday. Apart from the stage and the photos of jazz performers on the wall (mostly taken by the owner himself), it has the look and feel of a typical, atmospheric, old Barrio del Carmen late night bar.

The music you’ll hear is always some form of jazz and you’ll get the odd Blue Note classic but priority is always given to new approaches to music and younger contemporary artists. Jimmy Glass is not about using jazz as some kind of instantly recognizable label or as décor to add a bit of cool and pleasant background music; it is about the musicians who are pushing the boundaries of the genre.

The concerts are open to anyone who’s interested and are attended by a mixed bag of tourists, people passing through and a hardcore of local jazz fans who try to attend most of the shows. However, don’t think, as is often the Valencian way, that any performance in a bar is merely there to add colour to your own conversation. If you chat through the quieter solos, you’ll be hushed down.

Jimmy Glass is a venue where jazz musicians regularly hang out and owner Chevi Martínez has gone out of his way to ensure that the club is becoming increasingly well-known as a place to play for young jazz players around Europe and further afield. The venue has showcased a vast array of internationally acclaimed artists across the jazz spectrum.

How did Jimmy Glass get started?
I have always felt part of the Barrio del Carmen. I have friends here from the 70s and 80s and we used to go to some great places around here like La Torna, La Jungla or La Tardor. After studying photography, I set up this place with a friend of mine. We started off as just another place to go in a neighborhood full of bohemians. We didn’t really have any particular theme. In 1994, I became the sole owner and since then we’ve been dedicated exclusively to jazz. The look of the club has never changed much but I’ve found with jazz it’s not the look that matters too much. In other places, people have spent a lot of money creating ostentatious re-imaginings of a 1920s speakeasy and it hasn’t always worked out. It’s not the container, it’s the content.

Could you tell us about your love of jazz?
Jazz is a living thing. It is in a constant state of evolution. You can’t just focus on the classics as many people do, although they are there as great works and deserve respect. Jazz is an art form that you have to reinvent continuously to find new groups, new trends. It is a type of music you can never tire of; there is always something new there for you to discover. This isn’t a time of revolutions, musically-speaking, but it is a time of investigation and there are a lot of very good musicians out there working on it every day.

Who comes to your club?
We are in the Carmen, a focal point of Valencia nightlife, so we get all kinds of people at the weekends. It’s different during the week—our clientele is a little more homogenous, more regular. There are concerts every week and you get many people who are nearly always at these concerts, week after week. In a funny kind of way, we are educational. We are offering people new ways to appreciate this music. Making them aware of new groups, new styles and people seem to enjoy that.

Could you tell us about the musicians who play here?
Jimmy Glass has put Valencia on the international jazz circuit. We get groups from all branches of the music, established musicians who play here and in all the most famous clubs in New York or London and groups that are making a start in the world of jazz. There are groups who have first played here as unknowns and have become acclaimed all over the world. They all seem to enjoy playing here at Jimmy Glass. They know the public here will appreciate them and, of course, Valencia is not a bad city to visit. The food, a nice climate and a good place to play.

C/ Baja, 28
Zona Carmen

Interview by David Rhead and José Marín
Article copyright 24/7 Valencia

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