"The important thing isn't the style-
it's the quality of the music." ~Jorge Vistel
I spent the month of June in Spain. Originally my trip was planned to turn off work and turn on my art. You see when I am not at Harrelson Trumpets, I do photography and paint. I have art shows all around the country and quite a few right here in Minneapolis... but... I have had a very busy year here at work. Not leaving much time to concentrate on my art. So, I planned a month long sabbatical and packed a suitcase full of art supplies. After the arrangements were made I decided that I really couldn't stay away from what I love so much about my job here in the US for that long... and so side trips were planned for Madrid and Castellon. On those jaunts around the countryside of Spain... I found that I loved my job even more than I realized. The people I met with... their stories and their hospitality, truly were the highlight of my experience. Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing some of that with you... and hopefully you will see what I mean, when I say, the people that play our instruments are really what this is all about. They are truly amazing human beings.
So, the first client I met with was Jorge Vistel. I am sure he thought I was a little nutty because when he met me (at my hotel, thanks Jorge) I had literally just arrived in Madrid after my high speed (330 km/hr) train from Barcelona. I booked my hotel because it was named after the train station... so... I assumed it would next to the train station. It wasn't. I walked a long time before dipping into one hotel and handing them my passport. The woman told me there was no reservation but I might want to try the other hotel nearby with the same name. Whew. So... eventually I found it. Finding my room in the hotel proved to be (surprisingly) equally confusing. So I was a little flustered by the time I met up with him.
Jorge met me and I was surprised at how young and cool he seemed. Smiling ear to ear with giant headphones around his neck. He took me to a Cuban restaurant and helped me choose my food. By night I guess they host Cuban music as well. I sorta wished it was night so I could see what he meant. After he walked me around town a bit and we stopped for ice cream. He explained the concept behind his new album and even let me preview a couple of the tracks. Then he told me I was the only person that had heard it yet... feel free to be jealous. It was clear to see, after only a couple of hours, that Jorge takes his music seriously and I had yet to hear him live. I excused myself early because I had a big day ahead in the morning and he reminded me of his show the following night at Bogui Jazz with the Cristina Mora & Ander García Duet.
I immediately liked the space at Bogui. It reminded me of what would happen if the old Dakota Jazz Club and the 7th Street Entry here in Minneapolis had a baby. Intimate, not too classy, not too snobby... just all about the music. I was literally one foot from the stage. Cristina's voice was hypnotic and Jorge seemed to dance around the lyric lines as if the two of them were singing duets. It was an awesome show.
The following day I met with another client (more about that later) and then went to catch Jorge at El Plaza Jazz (also in Madrid). That place was really cozy and intimate too. I liked the way the guy made gin tonics by taking the ice in one hand and then smashing it with the back of the spoon with the other. I sat on a couch about mid-way back and when Jorge caught my eye he told me to come sit by the musicians waiting to cue up on stage. That was the first time I saw them... the pack of Cuban allstars that I would later find them out to be. Among them was also a guy that studied at Berklee and spoke perfect English (a comfort), we even knew some of the same folks in Boston, and a hand full of other characters. This was a jam session to beat all jam sessions. I have literally never seen anything like it. I was, to say the least, impressed. That went on for I think 3 or 4 hours... pretty much non stop. I learned later that one of the players was Jorge's brother Maikel, a sax player, also from Cuba. I had a hard time figuring out who was who after a while... they were all about the same height and they all had dreadlocked hair. I think I asked more than once which guy was his brother. Just when I thought there couldn't be any more music to be had... Jorge turned to me and said, ok, now we go to the really fun jam session. (that was at 1am) I said something like... "I really don't think I can make it" he said... "You sleep in Barcelona, now you are in Madrid"... so we walked (me, and the Cubans) across town to Sala Barco. Jorge was right... this WAS the fun jam session.
This was a danceable chill locale and I remember all types of instruments. I think at one point there was a clarinet... and a guy doing skat from stage wearing a Hawaiian shirt. After he got off stage I turned to him and said... wow that was fantastic (in English of course) and he said... thanks, did you understand any of what I was saying... NO, I admitted. He laughed. That jam lasted until about 3 am I believe. I asked how often they do this... Jorge said they do it all the time. They go anywhere they can jam... it's what they like to do. Someone was teasing him saying that if he could he would go to every jam session. The next day Jorge rounded out my time in Madrid by taking me out for amazing Italian food! and walking me to the train station. He stayed with me all the way until I checked in, I think he could tell I was totally lost. Overall my time with Jorge was really inspiring. He told me about life back in Cuba and coming from a long line of trumpet players. He said it was a little strange in Spain... no one plays the trumpet, but in Cuba EVERYONE does. He said he used to hate the trumpet. His father would make him practice all of the time and all he wanted to do was go play. I guess you could say things have changed a little. I think Jorge Vistel eats, sleeps and breathes music. He was very excited to share his new recordings and videos with me. He really cares about getting it right. About touching the audience. I had a wonderful time with him and I can't wait for the release of his new album at the end of this year. Thanks again Jorge for sharing your time with me and showing me what it means to love music in Madrid.
Below is a short interview with more information. If you'd like to contact Jorge directly you can do so here: firstname.lastname@example.org
How did you come to play the trumpet?
In my family there´s a lot of trumpet players, including my father, so I grew up listening to it and loving the sound.
When did you start?
When i was 6 years old, at home, with my father.
How long have you been in Spain?
What's the difference between the music scene in Cuba and the music scene in Madrid?
In Cuba the music is very important, they promote a lot the art in general. Here in Spain, there´s not a long tradition of jazz. It really didn't start until the 70's here.
Tell me about the group of you that came to Madrid from Cuba... how did that happen?
We came during a tour, in 2005, and stayed in Italy. After a while in Italy we came to Spain.
What kind of music do you play?
I play Jazz but also i play a lot of styles. The important thing isn´t the style, is the quality of the music.
Do you have any recordings?
Yes, i have one edited called Evolution with my brother, Maikel, in our project: Vistel Brothers. Also I have two records almost ready: Van Hasselt & Vistel Project (with fresh sound records). And my trio project called Cimarrón with Inner Circle Music, the Greg Osby label in New York.
What is the inspiration behind your latest recording?
The Yoruba religion, the roots of the Afrocuban culture.
When does it come out and where can people find it?
It comes at the end of this year,and you can listen to it on spotify, iTunes, amazon, etc. In the web site of Inner Circle: http://www.innercirclemusic.net
How often do you play gigs?
it depends, but normally two times a week.
What's an average week like for you gig-wise?
I practice everyday, and study the music I'm gonna play.
Where can people see you play?
A lot of places in Madrid, and around Europe when I'm on tour.
Have you toured with any big names?
Yes, i toured with Quincy Jones, David Murray, Doug Hammond, Peruchin Jr., Oscar Valdés, Henry Cole; and reulary I tour with Alfredo Rodriguez band.
What's your idea of the perfect gig?
A perfect gig for me is when i can touch the emotions of the public with my music and get a feedback with them. But always there's things to improve, nothing is perfect.
Any tours coming up?
Alfredo Rodriguez in Spain and Norway in July, and later with Ralph Peterson in Spain.
I am the PR, Advertising, Marketing, Web and Social mind at Harrelson Trumpets. When I am not at work- I paint: