Peer 1 & 2 CD/LP (Vampi Soul) 5/5

Think of Miles Davis’ ‘Sketches of Spain’ and contemplate what it might have sounded like in a more modal vein with just rhythm section, flamenco guitar and piston trombone to accompany. Wonder no more. One of the all-time great European jazz pair of albums has been re-issued for the first time since the 1990s and in a beautiful gatefold sleeve with the original covers featured both on the inner and outer sleeves plus informative notes from Javi Bayo. Recorded in 1967 and 1968 respectively, these two albums convey the essence of flamenco-fusion before the term was ever coined and it may comes as some surprise that aside from the Spanish soprano saxophonist and tenorist, the rest of the rhythm section are from northern European climbs, bassist Eric Peter from Switzerland and drummer Peer Wyboris and pianist Paul Grassl from Germany collectively. Of course the flamenco component could only ever be provided by a fellow Spaniard and the pseudonym of Paco de Algeciras is none other than Paco de Lucia while on the first album Paco de Antequera was one of the most respected guitarists at the Madrid tablaos of the time. The lengthy pieces are dramatic in their intensity and oscillate between straight ahead modal and flamenco-tinged numbers. Arguably the pick of the bunch is ‘Zorango gitano’ which conjures up the gypsy essence of flamenco with some gorgeous comping from Grassl. By far the longest piece is ‘Las Morillas de Jaén’ which sounds as though Iturralde has been heavily influenced by the orchestrations of Davis and Gil Evans. On the second recording the tribute to Enrico Granados, ‘Homenaje a Grandaos’ is quite stunning and captures the various classical pieces that the composer wrote beautifully in a jazz idiom. Elsewhere there are more reflective sides explored on ‘Café de Chintas’ which builds up a head of steam and develops into and Arabic-sounding number complete with soprano musings from Iturralde. Spanish jazz developed exponentially during the 1970s and beyond and the likes of Chano Dominguez, Jorge Pardo and Javier Collina among many others have become much respected household names. However, it is with ‘Flamenco Jazz’ that the heart of modern Spanish jazz begins and that is one reason among several why this double helping is indispensable. Tim Stenhouse