Tucked away behind the council buildings on Jaume I is a smaller square Placa Sant Miguel. Here you will find a Bar Cocktelaria called El Paraigua. On some weeknights the basement of the bar becomes an intimate music venue where Jazz bands can be seen and heard. On Wednesdays the stage is opened up, and visiting musicians are invited to Jam with the band of the night. On the occasions I have visited I have been treated to some fine and varied music played on regular and strange instruments alike. The last occasion was no exception.
A drum set, two keyboards and a mic occupy the stage, attended by operadores that interchange and exchange. Riffs, rolls and ramblings arise, in freeform arrangements of the mood the experience the musicians inspire. They flow through jazz clicks and swoons, reggae booms and rap rips. Jam session are anything but predictable, whoever is present and capable can wander on stage and take us in a new direction.
The initial duo, drums and keyboard are minimal but expressive, pulling all they can from skins and keys, overlaid with vocal accompaniments of lyric, beatbox or melody. A stick held down across the snare clicks the beat, while the other wanders between high-hat cymbal and snare and the bass foot chop chops down low. Keyboards swell and shimmy alongside a blues vocal telling of lost love, heart ache and then a moan and wail from the mouthorgan finishes us off.
The venue is well appointed if a little short on seating, getting there early will increase your likelihood of getting a seat. However if like me you are driven to dance when good sounds abound there is room enough to shuffle and sway. The drinks are good and table service obliging, but be aware this is not a budget destination. Being a basement the acoustics are good and the sound level is set to an appropriate (no too loud) level.
After cracking on through a jazzy blues set a vocalist is invited on stage and steers us into “Keep on using me, use me up”, without a pause another joins and we move into Jazz Rap Español, another, Blues tinged Spanish crooning and on...Three vocalists in short succession and the backing duo don´t miss a beat. The drum major stands and offers his sticks to a friend in the crowd. As they round the drum set they hug, he sits a little tense and the mood changes again. Mod Jazz, the sound a little tighter. The drummer relaxes, they are joined by a mouth with organ and we swing. The Nord keyboard has that electro funk ring that sits well alongside the lazy beats and soulful mouthorgan.
Let´s have another beer.
Steve Andoe - "Live from Barcelona"