Sampling Barcelonas Jazz Beat


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Almost as a rule, jazz musicians travel more widely than their audiences. Because the jazz economy stretches well across the Atlantic Ocean, most viable careers in the music involve a number of local scenes.

The New York club circuit bears pervasive evidence of this fluidity, especially now. But sometimes its good to get the message in a stronger dose.

Thats one reason the Catalan Jazz Festival, a five-night series at the Jazz Standard, makes sense. As a reflection on the style of Barcelona, a city long hospitable to jazz musicians, the festival part of Catalan Days, a cultural showcase presented by the Ramon Llull Institute features a handful of small ensembles not often heard here. Throughout the run, which ends on Sunday, the club will augment its usual barbecue fare with a tasting menu designed by Isma Prados, a Catalan chef.

The only problem on Wednesday night was the music. Triphasic, the first band on the festival lineup, played garish, overstimulated funk-fusion with a kind of hollow gusto. Its second set drew heavily from Shaman, an album out in Europe on Universal Spain, and due soon on a smaller label in the United States. However precisely executed, the music was thin on substance, and much of it felt hopelessly outdated.

Triphasic consists of Llibert Fortuny on saxophone and electronics, David Gmez on drums, and Gary Willis, an expatriate American, on electric bass. Its whiz-bang style seems directed largely by Mr. Willis, the groups senior member: in the late 1980s and early 90s he made music of similarly flashy dimensions with the fusion band Tribal Tech. Most of the tunes in the set were his, including Invisible, a maudlin pop ballad, and Eye Candy, a boppish funk workout that he also recorded for a recent solo album.

The front man in the trio is Mr. Fortuny, an energetic soloist with a weakness for gimmickry. His current shtick, not particularly new, involves processing his saxophone so that it sounds like other things: a horn section, a distorted synthesizer, a robotic chipmunk. On A Dogs Life he ran his voice through the filters while holding up a stuffed animal. (It was a dog. Do you have dogs in New York? the dog asked, lamely.)

The Catalan Jazz Festival continues through Sunday at the Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan; (212) 576-2232, jazzstandard.net.

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