A little history

Source: Iglesias, Iván. “A contratiempo: una breve historia del jazz en España”, en Julián Ruesga Bono, Jazz en español: derivas hispanoamericanas. Valencia: Generalitat Valenciana, 2015, pp. 177-212.

The beginning

Jazz appeared in Spain very soon, practically at the same time as in the United Kingdom, France or Germany, considered its original centers in Europe. The first musical performances that contemporaries described as “jazz” took place in Madrid and Barcelona between the end of 1919 and the beginning of 1920. (…)

At the beginning of the twenties, music of North American origin strolled through the most select environments of Barcelona and Madrid, its main centers, but it was increasingly difficult to find it also in cities that then already had a considerable population such as Valencia, Seville , Zaragoza, Malaga and Bilbao and, in summer, in the summer towns of the Cantabrian and Mediterranean.

In Republican Spain, which controlled the cities with the greatest jazz activity (Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia) practically until the end of the war, the projection of musical films was common since August 1936, also completed with the end of the festival of varieties in the who regularly participated jazz orchestras.

Jazz during Franquismo (1939-1968)

Officially, jazz was identified with American black music and defined as the antithesis of Spanish music. The main musicgraphers and critics warned in the press of the dangers of those “exotic dances of blacks, product of the American jungles”, “wild” and “pagan”, “collected and exported by freemasons and anti-Catholics”, which involved “a malice Satanic ”and that they should“ be eliminated without compassion ”.

Since 1943, when the course of World War II threatened the integrity of Franco’s regime and its international position, positive references to American music in the media served, instead, as an example of tolerance, renewal and alliaphile posture. of the dictatorship.

The interaction between this economic liberalization and the consolidation of various logistic, media and business processes initiated in 1953 was crucial for the development of jazz in Spain.

Jazz in democracy (1975-2011)

Total investment in culture increased by two thirds between 1982 and 1986, and continued to increase in subsequent years. Although jazz was not among the main beneficiaries of this promotion, it was affected by it, directly and indirectly. In this first democratic fortnight, he survived first and matured later, thanks to the increase and consolidation of several fundamental spaces, media and institutions.

In the first place, new ones such as Getxo, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Madrid, Terrassa or Valencia were added to the international festivals of Barcelona and San Sebastián, whose entity and regularity placed them among the main jazz events in Europe.

Since 1983, the Ministry of Culture has organized an itinerant jazz campaign annually, replaced since 1987 with eventual grants for concerts and other activities. There were many festivals that began then, several of them without continuity, taking jazz to cities where until then it had been marginal or virtually unknown: Almería, Badajoz, Burgos, Cádiz, Cartagena, Castellón, Granada, Huesca, Ibiza , Lugo, Málaga, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Pontevedra, Santiago de Compostela, Santander, Seville, Tenerife, Valladolid and Zaragoza.

Second, as important or more than the livelihood and the increase of festivals was the proliferation of live jazz clubs.

Thirdly, radio and television became, for the first time, real agents for the diffusion of jazz in Spain, once the modulated frequency became practically an obligation for radio stations with musical programs, the broadcasting power was increased and the television became widespread in homes.

In addition, the inexhaustible and repeatedly awarded Cifu was also the screenwriter and presenter – with the eventual collaboration of the journalist Ebbe Traberg, a Danish resident in Madrid – of the weekly space of Spanish Jazz Television between friends, made by Javier Díaz Moro, who for seven years, Between 1984 and 1991, it served as a showcase for Spanish and international jazz.

Finally, the formation of jazz musicians, which during the dictatorship had been reduced to self-education, the links between teachers and disciples and club culture, underwent remarkable changes with the arrival of democracy. As an alternative to conservatories, then impervious to urban popular music, new music schools were founded following American models, particularly focused on jazz. In 1978, the Classroom of Modern and Jazz Music was created in Barcelona, ​​under the Center d’Estudis Musicals at the beginning and autonomous since 1980, academically associated with the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. The following year, Lluís Cabrera founded the Music Workshop.

One of the jazz environments that has changed the most in recent years is that of regulated education. The success and solidity of most modern music schools, not exempt from successive crises and restructuring in many cases, served for official institutions to rethink throughout the nineties the integration of popular music teaching in public conservatories and municipal music schools. In July 1992, an order of the Ministry of Education and Science warned for the first time that “the contents of the teaching of an instrument must take into account the broad musical horizon and the simultaneity of genres, forms and styles with which young people live together of today », among which were jazz, pop and rock. Three years later, a Royal Decree established jazz among the possible specialties of the Higher Degree in Music Teaching curriculum.


The new generation with emerging youngsters and great talents such as pianists Marco Mezquida, Alberto Palau; the saxophonists Ernesto Aurignac, Enrique Oliver, Vicent Macián, Víctor Jiménez, Borja Baixauli; bassists Dee Jay Foster, Mattew Baker, Rubén Carles, Tom Warburton; the trumpeters Félix Rossy, Voro García, Pepe Zaragoza; Drummers Borja Barrueta, Ramón Prats, Iago Fernández, Roger Gutiérrez, Santi Colomer, Guillém Arnedo; the trombonists Vicent Pérez, Paco Soler; the guitarist Jaume Llombart, Iván Cebrián; Singers Celeste Alias, Lupe Azcano, Andrea Motis, Noa Lur …

In 2011 in the documentary “Jazz in Spain” 7 of the production company “14 ft” for the television channel Canal de Historia, the testimonies of some Spanish Jazz musicians and critics are collected, with some historical documents of this music in Spain .

As a consequence of all this development and the need for its articulation, the Jazz España platform was born in March 2019, as a peninsular organization that brings together different actors from this sector to contribute to its growth and its representation abroad.