Last Friday night I had the pleasure to see Edurne Arizu in concert with her new project, Fricciones. This woman plays a mean accordion. Backing her up were Barcelona jazz scene regulars Tom Warburton on the double bass and Dani Dominguez on the drums. They are normally joined by Pablo Selnik on the flute, but tonight they were performing as a trio.
The gig was at a favorite old haunt of mine, Robadors 23, which is nestled into the legendary Raval neighborhood in Barcelona. I hadn’t been there for several years and was relieved to find that it still holds all its old school, unassuming charm. The little stage is at the back of the bar and seats about twenty-five to thirty people comfortably. The people who go there go to listen to the music, which makes it a great place to see a concert.
The band started playing. Edurne played spiraling jigsaw-puzzle melodies that made me feel like I was listening to an M.C. Escher lithograph. You know those pictures of staircases that go both up and down? I kept expecting the one to land somewhere else. I considered trying to figure out the time signature but figured I’d leave that to the experts and just sat back to listen.
To me Edurne’s compositions sound like folk music from the mountains in northern Spain that has come into contact with and been transformed by modern music and jazz. The band started playing with high energy and pretty much kept it there throughout the entire concert. There was an exquisite moment when we, the audience, kept asking Edurne to turn up the volume on her voice microphone and she politely, deftly, and diplomatically declined our requests. She acknowledged how accustomed we are to hearing the voice as the main instrument but explained that she was already playing the main melody on her accordion. Her voice was just meant to back up that melody. So, really, it wasn’t necessary to turn it up. And we all whispered a collective “Ah, yeah, that makes complete sense…”
The accordionist is from Pamplona, Spain, where she graduated from the Conservatorio Superior de Música Pablo Sarasate de Pamplona. She received a degree in music history and sciences from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona in 2003 and is involved with tons of bands, collaborations and theater projects which you can read more about here and here.
Fricciones is to be her debut album, recorded right here at Dry Town Studio by Aurélien Landy Gana. It’s set to be released soon. I, personally, can’t wait.