Andrea Motis and Joan Chamorro
Andrea Motis and Joan Chamorro are an unlikely musical team.
Born more than 30 years apart, they hail from two very different
and distinct musical generations. And yet they are the two primary
figures in a series of projects in their hometown of Barcelona
since 2010. In less than five years, Motis and Chamorro have set
their city and other parts of Europe ablaze with the energetic
sounds of jazz from either side of the Atlantic.
Since they began collaborating, Motis and Chamorro have
recorded four albums together, 5 with the Sant Andreau Jazz Band,
7 more with different projects, toured throughout Europe and
South America, and have worked on stage or in the studio with
a variety of high-profile musicians, including Dick Oatts,
Scott Hamilton, Ken Peplowski, Scott Robinson, Terrell Stafford,
Wycliffe Gordon, Jesse Davis, Bobby Gordon and many others.
Along the way, they have received numerous awards and accolades
for their artistic endeavors. In 2011, they received an ARC
Award for Best New Artist (2011) and an Artist of the Year Award
from the Enderrock Jaç Awards.
In addition to the awards, they have also received nominations
by some of the most prestigious music organizations in
Europe: Best Group of the Year (ANJIM, 2011), Best Jazz and
Blues Group (Arc Awards, 2011), and Best Theater and Concert
Hall Tour (ARC Awards, 2011).
And yet, for all of their successes, their story is a simple
one that begins with little more than a teacher, a student,
and a shared passion for music in general and jazz in particular.
Joan Chamorro was born in Barcelona in September 1962. He spent
his childhood listening to pop music, but didn’t start focusing
on classical music and jazz until he began playing the saxophone
and guitar at age 18. He attended the Taller de Musics, a music school
in Barcelona devoted to jazz. After four years, he gave up classical
music and the guitar and focused his efforts entirely on jazz and
In addition to playing and recording with the Taller de Musics,
Chamorro also played live gigs with several local big bands.
“I was very lucky to be a part of this scene,” he recalls,
“and to have the chance to play with great soloists from some
very popular big bands.”
In the years since he received his music degree, Chamorro
has played with numerous high-profile musicians from around
the world: Stevie Wonder, Manhattan Transfer, Slide Hampton,
Randy Brecker, and recorded with Tete Montoliu, Bebo Valdes,
and many others. “It is always great to share experiences and
music with such a great cast of international musicians,” he says.
“And it’s an amazing opportunity to grow as an artist.”
In the midst of these various collaborations, Chamorro has also
directed the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, a group in Barcelona made up
of children and teenagers between the ages of 9 and 20. It was here
that he first met Andrea Motis, an 11-year-old trumpeter who was
also one of his saxophone students.
“She was always a very serious student,” Chamorro recalls.
“One day I was teaching the band and I asked if anyone wanted
to sing a song, and she was the first and only one who said yes.
She was 13 years old by this time. From the very beginning,
I heard something special in her voice, something that could be
improved if she were given the opportunity to learn and grow in
the company of good musicians. I talked with her parents,
and everyone agreed that she would be part of my various music
By this young age, Motis had already been immersed in music
of every kind. She’d been playing the trumpet since age 7, and
her earliest musical memories include Charlie Mingus
(one of her father’s favorite musicians) as well as Cuban jazz.
By age 10, she starts exploring just about every form of American jazz
until nowadays listening to great American female vocalists
such as Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holliday and Nancy Wilson,
also Cécile McLorin Salvant, Amy Winehouse, Esperanza Spalding,
Gretchen Parlato and instrumentalists such as Tom Harrell,
Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, Perico Sambeat as well as
iconic jazz artists like Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley,
Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown.
“The first time I sang in public was for Chamorro’s audition
at the Taller de Music school,” says Motis. “I sang a Basin Street
blues number that Joan later uploaded to the internet. After that,
he invited me to sing on his album.”
The album was Joan Chamorro Presenta Andrea Motis, released in
2010 when Motis was 14. As the title suggests, the album is a
showcase for Chamorro’s young protégé who plays trumpet,
saxophone and sings throughout the recording.
“We recorded a lot of songs in different ways,” says Motis.
“While deciding the final album repertoire we realized that
we liked most of the songs that were sung. That’s why Joan
thought of the album as a way to introduce me as a musician
and singer, because my role turned out to be more important
than we had originally thought it would be.”
In the final cut of the album, Motis sings on 16 of the 17 tracks.
“She showed a great sensibility and a capacity to share emotions,”
says Chamorro. “There was a great natural quality in every song we
The project proved to be an extremely valuable learning experience.
Motis recalls: “It gave me the opportunity to play for the
first time with amazing musicians such as Ignasi Terraza,
Josep Traver, Eseve Pi, Dani Alonso and Bobby Gordon, and
American clarinetist who played with all the great classic
jazz artists before he died.”
Feeling Good, a recording of live performances throughout
Barcelona, followed in 2012. Two years after the first album,
Motis had grown and matured as a musician and a vocalist.
“This was the point where she started improvising, and it’s
reflected in the CD, where all of her solos are
entirely hers,” says Chamorro. “I trusted her knowledge and encouraged
her to improvise during our shows too. We were performing a lot at
that time and it was a good time to practice that. It was
amazing to see her progression in every rehearsal and every show.”
Their third recording, Live in Jamboree Barcelona,
captured the band during their three appearances at
the Barcelona music festival with guest saxophonist Scott Hamilton.
“The thing flowed so smoothly,” says Motis. “We played new
songs and some others that were in our previous repertoire.
We felt truly at ease playing the music. It was a very special
experience and I was truly happy with the final result.”
Chamorro and Motis recorded yet another live big
band performance – this time on video as well as audio – in 2014
at the Barcelona International Jazz Festival. The CD/DVD package
is scheduled for release in August 2014. The majority of the
repertoire in the upcoming release by The Motis Chamorro Big Band is
sung by Motis, but Chamorro’s baritone sax and Motis’s trumpet
also figure prominently in the mix.
“This project includes the very best musicians in the
Barcelona jazz scene,” says Chamorro. “Many of them are
excellent soloists who play an important role in
the tracks on which they play.”
In addition to their extensive work in the Barcelona
scene, The Motis Chamorro Group has also played
numerous festivals in France, Switzerland, Brazil and Turkey.
“Andrea and I are doing the best we can to share our music with
as many people as possible,” says Chamorro. “Who knows what
we’ll be doing in the future, or where we’ll be doing it?
But I do envision a beautiful future for her. She is already
a well known artist, and she will be even more well know
in years to come. She deserves it. She has a great talent,
ability and magic necessary to do so. All of this comes from
the things that I think are most important: honesty,
authenticity and humility.”
“I’m very happy to be collaborating in new musical projects,
experimenting with new styles,” says Motis. “And as Joan
says: ‘Creativity has no bounds or limits.’ We have so many
projects and opportunities, and the chance to collaborate
with so many artists. Maintaining this vibe is the best
that I can hope for right now and for the future. We’ll see!”