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New Bojaira plays jazz in a dimly lit club

Flamenco fusion

What happens when two rich musical styles merge? New Bojaira's unique flamenco-jazz sound. Here's how the interdisciplinary magic happens – and where you can hear them in Denver.

October 16, 2019

By Cory Phare

Jazz and flamenco music each have their own defining characteristics.

Growing out of African American communities in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, jazz is recognized as a quintessentially American art. Flamenco is the sound of southern Spain, bringing a romantic aesthetic that often extends to the eponymous dance style it birthed.

But when brought together, the results can be harmonious. 

“Both those musical genres are essentially fusions,” said Jesús Hernández, pianist for New York- and Spain-based New Bojaira. “We find mixed harmonies and rhythms in those two music styles from different origins. It is only logical that they would eventually come together.

D-phi events this semester 

Liyana
Film screening and conversation with directors on award-winning and genre-defying documentary.
Oct. 23, 4-7 p.m.
Comcast Media and Technology Center, Tivoli Student Union

D-phi at the DAM: The Photons and Philosophy
A multidisciplinary tour of the light show at the Denver Art Museum’s “Untitled” Final Friday event.
Oct. 25, 6-10 p.m.
Denver Art Museum

A Doll’s House
Performance and talkback with scholars James Reid and Candace Craig.
Oct. 26, 2-5:30 p.m.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts

D-phi at the Denver Film Festival: Multidisciplinary Conversations
Two separate discussions on Oskar Alegría’s “Zumiriki” and Gabriel Mascaro’s disco-dystopian drama, “Divine Love”
Nov. 1-7 (DFF schedule now available online)
McNichols Building

They Shall Not Grow Old
Film screening and discussion of Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed documentary of 100-year-old film footage brought back to life in color to tell the story of World War I and the soldiers who lived it.
Nov. 11,
TBD, Auraria Campus

Culture, Capitalism and Critique
An interdisciplinary panel discussion on the role of higher education today, featuring faculty from MSU Denver.
Day/time: TBD

Keynote Lecture: Simon Critchley
Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, is editor of the New York Times philosophy series “The Stone” and author of well over two dozen books on a wide range of topics in philosophy, critical theory and cultural studies.
Feb. 13 TBD
Auraria Campus

 

The group brings its hybrid mix of jazz and fusion to Metropolitan State University of Denver Thursday for a 7:30 p.m. performance in the King Center (free for MSU Denver students, tickets at link); there will also be a 2 p.m. discussion in the MSU Denver Center for Advanced Visualization and Experiential Analysis theatre. MSU Denver’s Honors Program is the primary sponsor, with co-sponsors including the Denver Project for Humanistic Inquiry (D-phi), the Department of Modern Languages, the Department of Music, Undergraduate Studies and the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership.

The event marries the “complex syncretic musical forms” that arose and are sustained with respect to the histories of regions and peoples, said Adam Graves, Ph.D., D-phi director.

“This play of tradition and creativity not only delights us, but like all great arts, it also gives voice to dimensions of human existence that might have otherwise remained concealed to us,” he added. “In this way, this music serves as a kind of analogue to humanistic inquiry in general, in both its critical and creative capacities to enrich our lives by shedding light on the sort of beings that we are.”

The interdisciplinary confluence fits well with New Bojaira, which incorporates works from writerly giants such as Cervantes and Lorca into its compositions.

“Literature and music are both artistic expressions that seek beauty,” Hernández said. “When they go hand in hand, they strengthen one another and can get much deeper the message of what it is being said, the emotion that’s being conveyed.”

Experimentation can yield wonderful new results, whether it’s the proto-fusion of these forms found in the airy solos from Miles Davis’ closing modal track on the seminal “Kind of Blue” or the acoustic mastery of Al di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía. The key is a rich dialogue, celebrating the heritage of both forms and the fusion of the new.

“Both of them open paths for improvisation and creating spontaneous moods and energies,” Hernández said. “On the other hand, we need to respect the most important traits of each of them.”

The Honors Thesis Symposium takes place Dec. 6. See sidebar or click here for more information on D-phi events


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