Albert Sanz was born into a very musical family in Valencia. His mother, Mamen García, is a great singer-songwriter and award-winning theatre, film and television actress. His father Josep Sanz is a conductor, classical pianist and composer…
From an early age, Sanz was surrounded by his father’s classical music and the varied repertoire of songs from Mamen. From coplas to bossa nova, to Cuban boleros, tangos, Italian, French, and jazz standards. Sanz remembers his mother playing the piano at home a lot and singing.
As a teenager, he began to learn songs on guitar and electric bass until he decided to study classical piano at the Valencia Conservatory. Shortly after, his father took him to a jazz concert where: “I fell forever in love with the spirit of this music.”
Soon after, Albert started playing with other musicians in Valencia, combining the conservatory with studies in the Barcelona Music Workshop, concerts and all possible jam sessions. At age 18 he was selected to represent Spain in the European Youth Jazz Orchestra (EJYO) traveling for three weeks throughout Europe and recording the first record of the EJYO.
In 1998, Albert recorded his first album ‘Des D’aquí’ as co-leader with the Catalan bassist David Mengual. This record was voted best Spanish jazz record of the year by Spanish jazz critics (Cuadernos de Jazz). A year later, Albert received the SGAE Prize for the Jazz revelation artist and another prize as a revelation artist for Turia magazine.
After being offered a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Albert moved to Boston in 2000 where he played with Robert Stillman, Chris Van Voorst, Kendrick Scott, eventually forming the Kalifactors band and recording his CD ‘Kalifactors’, released on the label Fresh Sound. He also played with David Doruzka, Jason Palmer, Walter Smith, Lage Lund, Lionel Loueke, Javier Vercher and Ferenc Nemeth among others.
After graduating cum laude in Berklee, Albert moved to New York in 2002 where he immersed himself in the scene and played with the groups of Kurt Rosenwinkel & Joe Martin, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard and Chris Cheek. A concert from this era was also recorded and edited with Fresh Sound Records under the name ‘Los Guys’ (2003).
The Valencia IVM commissioned Albert to record an album and compose all the material with the consequent edition of ‘El Fabulador.’ This album was voted one of the best Spanish jazz records of the last decade by critics in Spain (Cuadernos de Jazz).
Shortly after this recording, Albert moved back to Spain, where he was offered a position as a Jazz teacher at the Musikene Conservatory of the Basque Country and later in the Jazz department at the Valencia Conservatory. During those years, Albert combined teaching with concerts and releases a live album (‘Metamorfosis’) with his trio at that time (with Masa Kamaguchi and RJ Miller) for the label Fresh Sound Records.
He also collaborated in the bands and recordings of Flamenco big band by Perico Sambeat, the trio and quintet by Jorge Rossy (as hammond organist), Jordi Matas and Carme Canela (as organist as well), and the famous project Silvia Pérez Cruz and Javier Colina trio that gave rise to the album ‘En La Imaginación.’ As a music producer and arranger, he recorded the album by his mother Mamen García (‘El Cofrecito’) in which musicians such as Jorge Rossy, Javier Colina and Antonio Serrano collaborated.
Albert took a step forward producing the album “O Que Será” in New York, an album with a stellar trio composed by the great drummer Al Foster (Miles Davis) and the bassist Javier Colina (Bebo Valdés). Recorded by the great James Farber. He also had the opportunity to travel with this great trio playing in the main festivals in Spain and also recording, live in the Café Central de Madrid, the album bootleg: ‘For Regulars Only’.
As a composer for theatre, Albert has collaborated with the award-winning and special company ‘Bambalina teatre practicable’, creating music for the shows ‘Ulysses’, ‘Cosmos’, the musical ‘El Geperut de Notre Dame’ and ‘Petit Pierre.’
24/7 Valencia: Can you tell us something about your album, ‘Mediterraníes’?
Albert Sanz: “Some say that ‘Mediterraníes’ is perhaps my most endearing & intimate project, musically speaking.
I am fortunate to be accompanied on bass and guitar by Munir Hossn, who has worked with Joe Zawinul, Alex Acuña, Gilberto Gil, Javier Ruibal and Jerry González. He is without doubt one of the most exciting exponents of the new generation of Brazilian musicians. Sergio Martínez is on percussion and he has collaborated with musicians as diverse as Diego el Cigala, Paul Simon, Danilo Perez or the National Ballet of Spain.
The Mediterranean is a symbol of light, diversity and has a very rich history. From Valencia you can cross the sea in the direction of Algeciras, or in the opposite direction reach the coasts of Croatia, passing through Naples or continue on the way to Israel or Cairo.
These ‘Mediterranies’ do not pretend to emulate an explicit journey via so many different human and sound landscapes… but to connect with an emotion, with a luminous feeling, rich in nuances, sometimes funny and deep, but always full of melody.
On the album you will be able to listen to songs such as the beautiful ‘Carta a l’exili’ by the Greek Christos Leontis, ‘Jo vinc d’un silenci’ by the singer Raimon and my evocative compositions such as ‘Opatija’ inspired by a Croatian dance, ‘The Ceremony’ or ‘The Welcome’… that is a fandango dedicated to my son and has the special collaboration of Jorge Pardo.”
Could you tell us something about your most recent album, ‘Sampa’?
My album ‘Sampa’ with Javier Colina (on double-bass) came together in the quartet of Silvia Pérez Cruz and Javier Hill with which we toured all over the world. During the breaks, I recorded the album “O qué será” with Javier and the legendary drummer Al Foster, who is a longtime member of the Miles Davis band. Already, in that project one could sense developments in jazz, but also regarding themes from Brazil. In concert, we are presenting the tracks from the album, Sampa; which are songs by Brazilian composers…but not with bossa nova clichés…via swing, or with a bulería or jazz ballads. The title of the album, ‘Sampa’, refers to Caetano Veloso’s song dedicated to the city of São Paulo.
Interview by Owl