A bassist with a solid reputation, an award-winning composer-bandleader, and a devoted world-class educator; Barcelona-born Alexis Cuadrado has become one of the most sought-after musicians on the New York jazz scene.
In 2008 he was awarded a Chamber Music America “New Works” grant that led to the creation of his new epic recording, Noneto Ibérico, successfully premiered in October of 2009 to critical acclaim, and featured on WNYC's "Soundcheck” with host John Schaefer. Noneto Iberico will be released on CD in February of 2011. Cuadrado has three other CDs as a leader: Puzzles (Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, 2008), Visual (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2004) and Metro (FSNT, 2001), which include original compositions and have received enthusiastic reactions from critics and fans alike.
He has excellent credits as a sideman, with over twenty recording appearances and performances with such greats as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bruce Barth, Ben Monder, Perico Sambeat, Mark Turner, Ben Waltzer/Bill McHenry Quartet, Steve Wilson, Seamus Blake, Grammy Award winner Angelique Kidjo (with whom he recently performed at Carnegie Hall), amongst many others. He currently keeps busy freelancing with multiple groups in New York, the US and Europe.
Nonteo Ibérico features: Perico Sambeat (saxophones & Flute), Loren Stillman (saxophones), Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Alan Ferber (trombone), Brad Shepik (guitar), Dan Tepfer (piano), Marc Miralta (percussion), Mark Ferber (drums), Alexis Cuadrado (bass), with VERY special guests: Israel Suárez "Piraña" , Tomás Moreno "Tomasito", Blas Córdoba “Kejío” on flamenco handclaps and "Jaleos".
Noneto Ibérico is Cuadrado’s fourth CD as a leader and the follow up to his much-lauded recording, Puzzles. “Noneto Ibérico”, which saw its successful premiere in October, 2009 at NYC’s Jazz Gallery, is a nine-movement piece performed by nine musicians, blending the traditional song forms of Spanish Flamenco music with the contemporary improvised music idiom, creating a unique and groundbreaking genre that goes a step beyond previous blends of flamenco and jazz. Noneto Ibérico was released March 2011.
Besides Mr. Cuadrado on double bass, the ensemble featured on Noneto Ibérico includes some of the most outstanding jazz musicians on the New York scene: Avishai Cohen on trumpet, Loren Stillman on saxophones, Alan Ferber on trombone, Brad Shepik on guitar, Dan Tepfer on piano and Mark Ferber on drums, with the special collaboration of two of the most exceptional musicians in Spain that have broken molds, and are renowned internationally for blending jazz with Flamenco, Perico Sambeat on saxophone and Marc Miralta on percussion. Together they construct a bridge that brings the composer's cultural legacy to bear on American jazz, thus enlightening the contemporary musical experience.
Cuadrado has researched deep into the roots of Spain's Flamenco music, extracted its bare-bone elements and reconstructed them. Cuadrado explains, “Around 4 or 5 years ago, I just became obsessed with Flamenco music. I started listening to a ton of it, studying, transcribing, playing along with recordings. I formed a trio to play some of the repertoire and called it Trio Iberico. Suddenly I got a Chamber Music America grant through their “New Works” grant program (final funding for this project came from a successful Kickstarter funding campaign) to write a Flamenco-jazz piece for a nine piece band. And that's what this music is, Noneto Iberico!.” The stunning result is a series of pieces that create a completely new aesthetic in the contemporary American jazz panorama.
The bassist/composer based each one of the pieces of "Noneto Ibérico" on a specific flamenco song-style (known as "Palo"). Every Palo has its own complexities and idiosyncrasies: a specific form, rhythm, harmony and melodic twists that have to be faithfully respected in order to be considered authentic. Every movement in the "Noneto Ibérico" suite achieves this, but Cuadrado also draws resources from other musical sensibilities in addition to his native-flamenco vocabulary. His experiences as a composer and performer in a wide variety of contexts, from jazz, world music, chamber music, as a sideman with Angelique Kidjo, playing 24 hour parties in gypsy wedding bands, and more, have left an indelible impression on Cuadrado. Some of the results include the piece "Por La Mínima", which mixes the elements of the flamenco "Bulerías" with those found on minimalist music. The melodies of the "Soleá”, titled "Sólo El Sol Sale Siempre Solo", are based on serialism, and the "Alegrías" "Tocar y Parar” utilize baroque counterpoint motives.
What people are saying about "Noneto":
“Alexis Cuadrado is carving a place for his exceptional bass playing and his most impressive composing abilities. ‘Noneto Iberico’ is a successful brilliant endeavor embracing the complexities of Spanish Flamenco rhythms while embedding contemporary American jazz improvisations and harmonies. Alexis’ unique compositions are passionate with tons of clarity throughout! ‘Noneto Iberico’ is going to demand repeated listening! BRAVO!” – Rufus Reid – Bassist/Composer
"The rich melody lines, the handsome harmonies, the subtle rhythmic changes, the excellent solo work and ensemble parts and the joyous attitude of the music all make ‘Noneto Ibérico’ worth your investigation." – Richard Kamins, Step Tempest
“Alexis Cuadrado is a bassist/composer/band leader after my own heart. With Noneto Iberico he's going for something personal, accessing folk music of his native country and continuing to add to and expand the definition of the word ‘jazz’. I'm a fan.” – Ben Allison – Bassist/Composer
“Dexterously melding sophisticated harmonies with the Spanish rhythms . . . Cuadrado’s orchestrations wove a multi-hued tapestry. . .” – Russ Musto, All About Jazz New York (on the premiere of Noneto Iberico at The Jazz Gallery, October 2009)
Alexis Cuadrado’s 3rd CD, was an important step forward in the Barcelona-born bassist and composer’s career. Not only did he write and arrange the album’s music, but the project is wholly self-produced.
The Puzzles band features some of the most innovative musicians in New York’s jazz scene: Loren Stillman on sax, Brad Shepik on guitar and Mark Ferber on drums. Trombonist Alan Ferber is as a guest on three songs and Pete Rende adds a special touch playing organ on one track. After a year of intense playing, the group recorded the album in Alexis’ Brooklyn living room in order to capture the raw sound of the band. It was a return to the classic way jazz records used to be made, but forward thinking in musical content.
“I feel it is my most private record,” Alexis stated in a recent interview, “It tells my personal story of the last 3 years… it was initially conceived in the home where I moved in 2004. My wife Ave and I bought a fixer-upper house in Brooklyn and I wrote all the songs as we were renovating the space. So both projects grew together. Then I decided that I actually wanted to record it here in my living room with the band playing together without separation… so that gives it a real jazz feel. The sound we got reminds me a bit of the old Blue Note records…
The actual music has a very ‘jazz’ concept to me… The songs might seem intricate or abstract, but they all have a strong jazz essence to them. I feel the pieces allowed the band to develop its own sound and vibe, and every time we perform, we find new ways of playing them that take us to unknown places.
The CD cover art is from a photo of a 1970's work of art my father-in-law painted, which is composed with thousands of puzzle pieces. It's a crazy art piece… He died in 2005, when we were in the middle of a construction zone in the house… It was very emotional for me. My wife and her mother, who's a professional photographer, took all the pictures for the album, so the record has a really strong connection to friends, home, family, life…”
Puzzles closes a kind of trilogy, together with Alexis’ previous CDs Metro (2001) and Visual(2004). Without any of the trappings of a studio recording, it plainly displays exactly what it is: an honest recording of a great band.
Perico Sambeat - saxophones & flute
Loren Stillman - saxophones
Avishai Cohen - trumpet
Alan Ferber - trombone
Brad Shepik - guitar
Dan Tepfer - piano
Marc Miralta - percussion
Mark Ferber - drums
Alexis Cuadrado - bass
special guests: Israel Suárez "Piraña" , Tomás Moreno "Tomasito", Blas Córdoba “Kejío” on flamenco handclaps and "Jaleos"
Alexis Cuadrado - bass & compositions
Loren Stillman - alto saxophone
Brad Shepik - guitar
Mark Ferber - drums
Guests: Alan Ferber (trombone) amd Pete Rende (organ)