Mallorca, Spain-born, Bern, Switzerland-based percussionist, composer, bandleader and producer Joan Pérez-Villeagas can trace the origins of his music career to when he began studying percussion at eight years ago old at the Conservatory of Music and Dance in Palma. When Villegas turned 19, he relocated to Barcelona, where earned a Bachelor’s in Classical and Contemporary Percussion at ESMUC. Interestingly, while in Barcelona, the Mallorca-born, Bern-based artist developed a deep interest in jazz and traditional music that led him to earn a Masters in Jazz Composition under the tutelage of Lluís Vidal.
Throughout his young career, Villegas has been involved with a diverse array of projects across an eclectic array of styles and genres including chamber music, classical symphonies, pop, traditional music, jazz and even scores for dance, theater, and film. During that same period, he has managed to be rather busy: he has studied with the Balearic Symphony Orchestra, been a guest artist at Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival (SICMF) 2016 in South Africa and at Festival Cistermusica 2016 in Portugal with his percussion duo Face two Phase, which won first prize at the fourth annual International Chamber Music Competition Cidade Alcobaça (CIMCA) in Portugal.
Released earlier this year, the Pérez-Villegas and Marc Urrutia co-produced, Blau Salvatge is Perez-Villages’ full-length debut as a compeer and bandleader. Recorded over the course of two days with Alberto Pérez at Barcelona’s Sol de Sants Studio and collection of friends and fellow students including Pau Lligadas (bass), Josep Cordobés (drums), Ariadna Rodríguez (violin), Pau Vidal (flute), Toni Pineño (clarinet), Joan Mar Sauqué (trumpet), Max Salgado (French horn), Leire Corpas (guitar) and of course, Pérez-Villegas (marimba and vibraphone) at Barcelona’s Sol de Sants Studio, the album’s material is centered around six kaleidoscopic compositions that manage to be individually distinct and focused on a different compositional process. And yet, each composition is part of a larger, cohesive whole.
Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Valvé.” Centered around a cinematic and mind-bending arrangement, the composition finds a talented collection of young musicians darting, weaving, bopping and strutting through several different tempos and styles — including Birth of the Cool and Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis, Horace Silver, breezy Brazilian jazz, Spanish folk music and film and TV scores — while evoking contemplation, awe, wonder and childlike whimsy.
Blau Salvage’s latest single “Algorritme I” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it’s a whimsical and breezy composition that features elements of hard bop, jazz fusion and film scores in a way that recalls Danny Elfman and JOVM mainstay Jonathan Scales. Of course, what truly makes the composition is the effortless yet soulful playing of each musician.