Latino America Festival to take place at the Tel Aviv Museum next week

In Brazil alone, there are umpteen musical idioms, including samba, bossa nova, choro and frevo to mention but a few.

 TRUMPETER-VOCALIST Andrea Motis with regular collaborator pianist Ignasi Terraza.  (photo credit: MARTINA HOUDEK)
TRUMPETER-VOCALIST Andrea Motis with regular collaborator pianist Ignasi Terraza.
(photo credit: MARTINA HOUDEK)

If you are going to organize a Latin American music festival you are more than likely to end up with a plethora of beats, sounds and textures seasoned by a rich and broad spread of genres, subgenres and styles. The Latin sector of the music world is peopled by numerous styles and cultural baggage.

In Brazil alone, there are umpteen musical idioms, including samba, bossa nova, choro and frevo to mention but a few. That, and much more, is in the offing at the inaugural Latino America Festival which takes place at the Tel Aviv Museum from March 2-4.

The cast for the three-dayer features artists from Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Israel who will do their utmost to get their audiences in the groove. No doubt, there will be high-energy deliveries of some of the aforementioned genres, as well as salsa, tango and son, with some Latin-inflected jazz thrown in.

Barcelona will be well represented throughout, when 27-year-old trumpeter-vocalist Andrea Motis takes the museum stage along with regular collaborator pianist Ignasi Terraza. They will be joined, for two of the Spaniards’ three gigs by locals, saxman-flutist Lenny Sendersky, bass player Yurai Oron and drummer Yonatan Rosen in a program of bossa nova numbers arranged by Terraza.

Tenderness of age notwithstanding, Motis has been around the performing and recording block quite a few times since she started out as a professional, at the age of just 14. She already has 16 albums to her name, as leader or coleader, and has kept some stellar company on the way. Feted cellist Yo-Yo Ma, now 80-year-old Brazilian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Milton Nascimento, and music industry pillar 89-year-old musician, producer, composer Quincy Jones – all multi-Grammy winners – all feature in Motis’s bulging bio.

That must have been quite something for the young Spaniard. “Wow! Each one of these experiences has been a thrill,” she confirms. “Very exciting, great opportunities to learn and every one of these three artists was extremely kind and supportive to me, so I’ll be forever grateful.”

IT CAME as no surprise to learn that Motis started out on her musical path when she was very barely out of diapers, getting some hands-on training as well as wrapping her young ears around contemporary commercial sounds on the road, literally. “I was in a children’s choir from 3 to 5 years old,” she notes. “And most of my musical memories before playing are traveling by car with the family. We always listened to something, not so much at home. I love listening to music while traveling by car.”

It is always interesting to listen to musicians who have switched instruments at some stage and to try to figure out how that has informed their approach to their newer means of musical expression. In Motis’s case, she learned trumpet before adding vocals to her artistic arsenal. She says the wind instrument figures prominently in her vocal take. “I feel I can sing nearly everything if I can play it. So, for example, if I improvise a singing solo I think it is similar as when I play it. Singing helps me being lyrical with my trumpet and then my phrasing makes more sense, I guess.” Many a jazz player talks about trying to make their instrument “sing,” so that fits the bill.

Motis cites a broad sweep of singers and horn players, across several generations, who have inspired her. The usual suspects from the vocal jazz pantheon, such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, are in there, along with members of the younger crowd like Cécile McLorin Salvant and Cyrille Aimée. Somewhat surprisingly, Motis says late pop star Amy Winehouse also fueled her creative juices. Iconic trumpeters Freddy Hubbard and Chet Baker – tellingly Baker was equally well known for his singing – and preeminent bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker color her approach to the instrument, with 76-year-old Tom Harrell, 57-year-old Ingrid Jensen and our very own Avishai Cohen from the current crop.

A shining light

More than anything, however, 60-year-old compatriot wind instrument player and bassist Joan Chamorro has been a shining light for Motis since the start. “He was my first mentor, the person who introduced me to jazz music and passed to me the passion for music in general, even if I had always been interested,” she notes. “I think his way of teaching worked very well with me, living each step of the process and enjoying one thing at a time, always motivated.” The two have also performed together frequently over the years. “He has brought us amazing opportunities to work and stay close to amazing artists, and experience professional work since early on.”

CHAMORRO ALSO helped to bring her and Terraza together. “We met each other through Joan Chamorro, who put the band together for his album when I was only 14,” Motis explains. That has produced ongoing rewards. “It is the same quintet that recorded has remained together more than a decade. To me, Ignasi is virtuous and can be very creative so I enjoy singing and playing with him. He has a personality and personal taste in music, and playing with him for so long has made us understand each other more instantly.” 

The trumpeter-vocalist says she is also happy to dig into some of Terraza’s playlist. “I like singing oldies with him, as it is a style of jazz we both share passion for. I’m looking forward to playing with him in Israel and also to play and meet all the rest of the local band!”

Motis will be kept busy here as she is down to perform on every day of the festival. The first two shows, with the quintet lineup, will be based on material written by venerated Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim who was known as “the father of bossa nova.” Jobim also helped to popularize the style in the US and elsewhere around the world and fused it with jazz. Motis is a devotee of the Brazilian’s work, and the genre he helped promulgate. “Jobim is a head of the Brazilian [music] of the last century. Also, João Gilberto gave bossa-nova its sound, which is not less important to me. I have been attracted to the roots of Brazilian music in my [jazz] album ‘Do Outro Lado do Azul’ and I love to see everything that was there before bossa nova and the fusion with American jazz.”

Motis and Terraza strike out on their own for their last gig. “On the 4th of March I’m going to play a more intimate duo concert with Ignasi Terraza on the piano and we’ll perform jazz, songs, some original compositions of ourselves and the music we love,” she says. Sounds good. “I hope that you enjoy the shows!!” she adds somewhat needlessly.

For tickets and more information: (03) 573-3001 and