From the bar to the street, from the theatre to the community centre, from the Part Alta to the Serrallo; not a single place in Tarragona can avoid to get moving at the sound of Dixieland Festival, the city’s spring symphony. On the way to its 20th edition, the show has found some fertile basis on the party personality of Tarragona, as well as bringing an entire generation of local musicians the chance of taking centre stage. Raül Cid, Stromboli Jazz Band’s vocalist and trombonist, is living these days a true jazz musician’s dream. Dixieland Festival is written by means of names like his.
Raül had already showing huge devotion for BB King, Percy Sledge or Aretha Franklin, but it was when first watching Dixieland Festival in Tarragona, as a young boy, that he knew exactly who he’d like to become. From that moment, he has put all the effort, talent and character in the service of the score. After performing for thirteen years on an emblematic local musical training, Small River, Raül and a group of friends set up the Stromboli Jazz Band, style and musical attitude in continuous eruption.
Attitude, yes; because not all music will necessary sound properly, says Raül. “Dixie is popular jazz music, a kind of festival conjunction, and Tarragona likes to have fun. Of course, this music style does particularly allow everything you have inside as a performer to flow out. If you feel cool and tuned, chemistry works, and people will enjoy that. On the other hand though, if you are on a bad mood with yourself or the rest of the band, nothing will work and it’ll be harder to connect with the public”, explains using pedagogy.
And this is actually what Hot Jazz is all about; colour at the rhythm of brass and improvisation, a style that derives from classic standards, but also able of integrating, recycling and becoming enriched with new popular music models, just like the Stromboli music band did with Star Wars.
Dixieland’s sound was born about a century ago by the Mississippi, but it soon settled in Tarragona, where artists such as Chic Corea, Bebo Valdés or the Dirty Dozen Brass Band have left a mark. Despite this being the only festival specialized of this kind in Spain, and one of the very few ones in Europe, it also gathers other music genres on its programme; from modern jazz to flamenco, to swing, bebop, funky, soul and blues, which comes to define a rich and varied soundtrack.
In a period of budget containment, fame on this year’s edition, April 7-13, will be split between a bunch of musicians in good shape, such as Randy Greer, Perico Sambeat and Llibert Fortuny, or Joan Chamorro and Andrea Motis, but it will also count on a number of local bands such as Pixidixi Band, Feos, Diximania or the above mentioned Stromboli or Small River, which will keep standards very high indeed by means of their effort, rigour and passion.
For them, the festival is not just a mere celebration but the best possible way of professional advertising. In a moment of general greyness, Raül Cid does not miss a beat and points at Dixie as the light in the dark: “People need good vibes and Dixie passes some on”. Music, people say, soothes the savage beast and, sometimes, can even make it dance.
(We’d like to thank Peter Martínez, the emblematic Cal Peter owner, and Montse Adán.)