Andrea Motis Makes Inroads in the States

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Andrea Motis recently taught and performed at Stanford University in California.

(Photo: Jeffrey Dean)

The creative seeds that 23-year-old trumpeter and vocalist Andrea Motis has been planting since her days as a teen prodigy in Barcelona have sprouted during the past few years. After being featured on more than a dozen live and studio albums since 2010’s Joan Chamorro Presenta Andrea Motis (Temps), she made her major-label debut with the 2016 EP He’s Funny That Way on Impulse! and followed it up with last year’s Emotional Dance.

The trilingual Barcelona resident since has made her East and West Coast concert debuts. She also headlined the Tokyo Blue Note last Christmas, and her quintet played its first Vail Jazz Festival in August. California’s Stanford University has been the setting for several firsts as well.

Motis made her Northern California debut last year t a Stanford Jazz Festival concert during which she shared the front line with veteran tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton. She also got her first taste of teaching, spending 10 days on the Stanford Jazz Workshop staff, alongside her mentor, Spanish educator Chamorro.

“I started in his band when I was 11, until I was 21,” Motis said of Chamorro’s youth music education project, Sant Andreu Jazz Band. “And Joan Chamorro was my teacher for that entire time. He’s the one who introduced me to jazz, and it’s been a beautiful environment for me to grow up in, around other young jazz players.”

Recently speaking backstage at a lecture hall in Stanford’s music building, Motis was about to hold open rehearsal in front of SJW students of the Barcelona-based quintet she co-leads with Chamorro. Their group performed the first half of the following night’s 2018 SJF concert at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall.

“It’s very admirable, teacher’s work,” she said. “Last year here, it was one of my first experiences teaching. And every time I’m feeling more relaxed. I think I’m learning a lot from all the teachers here and am observing classes.”

Starting out as an instrumentalist, Motis added vocals to her palette later on. “Playing trumpet helps me a lot with my singing,” she said. “You have [to approach] intonation the same way. It’s the same kind of work with air instruments.”

The early August concert at Stanford was presented in two parts. The first half featured the quintet along with special guest Wycliffe Gordon, whom Motis described as a one of the giants of trombone and swing. He’d also previously played with the Sant Andreu Jazz Band in Spain. Opening with “I’m An Errand Girl For Rhythm,” Motis wrapped her vocals around the lyrics of the uptempo number, and Gordon demonstrated his skills as a vocalist, scatting before taking a solo. “He’s Funny That Way” and “Poor Butterfly” put Motis’ solid ballad style on display, and she added a particularly pathos-filled trumpet solo to the latter. A swaggering version of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” with Motis leading the audience in a sing-along of the famous “I know, I know” portion, closed the sextet’s set.

The players then were joined by the SJW 50/50 Orchestra, a locally sourced professional big band consisting equally of female and male players. Chamorro switched from bass to baritone saxophone and continued to lead the band from his seat in the section. Motis switched to alto saxophone for “Just Friends” and was as at home singing in front of the big band as she was during the first half of the program. A flute- and clarinet-laden arrangement of “It Never Entered My Mind” was a highlight, and Motis led the audience in another sing-along during the encore of “Moanin’,” with its “Yes, Lord!” refrain.

The sextet closed out the show with “Louisiana O Els Camps De Cotó,” a number that Motis said was popular in Barcelona. Hearing it in Catalan, the audience was reminded that this young talent impressively had sung and spoken in languages other than her native tongue during most of the show. DB



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