Pianist. A talented ally of artists such as Sílvia Pérez Cruz and Chicuelo, and a generator of personal and shared projects, Marco Mezquida is right now a musician on the crest of the wave, even if the pandemic tries to avoid it. Its mission: to honor the spiritual and healing background of music.
Enthusiastic by nature and convinced that, if you stop pedaling, you fall off the bike, Marco Mezquida handles his many projects adapting to the sharp turns of the agenda.
After a few months in which, in spite of everything, he has been able to play at festivals such as the Sons del Món de Roses, the road is paved for him to star in the show All about Marco on January 21, within the Voll-Damm Barcelona, which consists of three concerts in one.
Later, on May 7 at the Liceu, he will accompany Sílvia Pérez Cruz to the Liceu, as a member of the Farsa Circus Band, as she did at the Girona Auditorium in December, as part of the Temporada Alta festival.
If being a musician has always meant a willingness to improvise, now much more.
But in this profession, in times of crisis, you see who wants to add and move things forward, and who doesn’t. Now we can decide overnight that we are going to Prague to do a streaming concert. Three days earlier, the programmer didn’t know if it could be done! But we continue to work hard, because even though everything is on standby now, we have been sowing for a long time.
It’s no coincidence that he’s talking about planting, right?
No, because at home, in Sant Lluís, Menorca, we had an orchard where we grew potatoes, beans, chard, aubergines, melons, watermelons … I know what it’s like to sow, water, harvest. Making a CD is that. It is about understanding your job and dedicating a daily constancy to it. You can’t spend a lot of time in the garden today and don’t do anything else until next week, and it’s the same with music. And the more affection you put into it, the better the fruits come out.
Despite the closures and restrictions, he is one of the musicians who has worked hardest in recent months.
Since the summer, there have been 10 or 12 concerts a month, either with Sílvia (Pérez Cruz), taking advantage of Live in Tokyo, or with Chicuelo or Talismán. We have been able to be on the list of important festivals that other years were more dominated by international names. But it is also necessary to deal with small clubs and festivals, many of which cannot be developed now. There are many musicians who have not been able to do any concerts since March.
We also saw him with Alfonso de Vilallonga, approaching chanson and cabaret. Despite the stylistic distances, does your way of being in each situation not vary as much?
Accompanying Sílvia is a world, and accompanying Alfonso is another world. I always try to think about what I can create and offer to each artist. With Alfonso it is a wonderful challenge, because he is a great composer, he knows what he wants and he is a showman. With Sílvia it is another type of vertigo. They are different challenges.
His premiere with Pérez Cruz was in Peralada, in 2018. After two years and a half of filming, at what point would you say your relationship is on stage?
There is more involvement, dedication and generosity. We have become very friendly, and the pairing is very stimulating. We are already like a band. And the same with Chicuelo, and with the trio of Talismán, Aleix Tobias and Martín Meléndez.
Didn’t hesitate to postpone the launch of Talisman?
Yes, but with my manager we decided that the important thing was that my presence and intensity were not diminished. Since 2013 he boosted my leadership role. I have recorded 20 albums with different projects and this continuous presence has made a name, a brand. It was time to move on.
He is usually introduced as a jazz musician, but Talisman does not fit into any canonical category. The sound is open and promiscuous.
I fight for it. There are critics who label you in jazz, even if you’re playing a pasodoble. And I’m free: I can do a pasodoble, and a reggaeton, and death metal, and reggae … What do we mean by jazz? I’ve never done traditional jazz. With Sílvia we don’t try to do covers like Ella Fitzgerald did. When I compose, the same. I want to capture my freedom, whether it sounds like Argentine zamba or a more Iberian composition.
Jazz, is it for you this education that allows you to go beyond jazz?
Exactly, jazz is a universe, and then there’s the aesthetics and the outfit you put on it. Beethoven Collage, with David Xirgu, Masa Kamaguchi and Pablo Selnik, seeks free jazz mixed with classical and urban music, even reggaeton and funk. If we had a blood test, 10% of classical music, 22% of Turkish music, 3% of free improvisation would still come out … There would be many things. I don’t want to be a jazz musician, but a free 21st century musician. Today jazz has nothing to do with what it was 30, 50 or 100 years ago. What interests me is not the labels but the authors.
Would you say this idea is shared by musicians of your generation?
I hope I’m not a weird grandpa. I’ve made an effort not to be categorized as a jazz musician. I feel what I want to do in a natural way.
Talisman began to be made before the pandemic. Did he then change in any way to take into account the mood in the new reality?
I thought a lot and it was a necessity for it to become a luminous disk; a song to life. The first part is extroverted, popular, goes in crescendo, and then moves on to more introspective music.
On the record there are accents of popular music, flamenco … He has talked about Iberian music before. What is?
There are many things, and that is why I dedicate a piece, Vientos eliseos, to Eliseo Parra, who has studied Iberian music and has done so with the utmost modernity. Aleix Tobias is an emblem of this: he has studied the square tambourines, the tambourines and the string of instruments that appear in the album.
With the pandemic, music has played a role in home gathering, and has accompanied liberation episodes: concerts as rewarding spaces, of social encounter in the midst of chaos. Has our relationship with music changed?
People have needed to listen to a lot of music, and that’s because it heals us. It is medicine for the soul. The relationship with music has been strengthened, and has been seen in the huge public support for the concerts that have been scheduled. This is very important. It could have been the other way around, for people to stay home with their Spotify. That’s why I don’t regret having pursued my projects in this weird year.
Now every concert is an exceptional event.
We experience something profound every time. As Alfonso (from Vilallonga) said: “Welcome to the last concert of your lives!”. It’s my attitude – I play like there’s no tomorrow. Just in case. And that makes things more vital and powerful, and creates a sacred, carpe diem, deeper moment, like an experience to be remembered.
Did he say sacred?
Well, let’s say better spiritual. You see the faces of the audience more excited than before, and you know they’ve made an effort to come. When there are difficulties, art impacts you even more.