Spanish hard bop anyone?

Oriol Vallès and Joan Casares appear to be the leaders of the quintet plus who produced an album in 2017 that goes by the title Smack 7 Dab, which can be found on the excellent Fresh Sound New Talent label. All the tracks on the album bar one are written by either Vallès or Casares, the final track is the exception with vocals written by Hugo Astudillo.

The group line up is: Oriol Vallès (trumpet), Joan Casares (drums), Lluc Casares (tenor sax), Joel González (piano), Pau Sala (bass). Guests: Perico Sambeat (alto sax on #3,4,6), Toni Belenguer (trombone on #3,4,6), Hugo Astudillo (vocals & alto sax on #9).

In the recording studio for Smack 7 Dab

Now to the album itself. For those who like to categorize their music I would put this album in the “contemporary mainstream” bracket. By that I mean that this album is, stylistically, firmly rooted in the bop, hard bop era of the forties and fifties but is by no means a modern copy of went before. The best example of what I am trying to say can be found on track three, “Raval Hip Attitude”, which has some fantastic trumpet playing on it, swings, introduces the alto sax of Perico Sambeat and the trombone of Toni Belenguer all underpinned by a good rhythm section.

Another great album from the Fresh Sound label

This is an album where all the musicians get a chance to shine without overstaying their welcome on any particular track. This album has barely left my CD player since getting it. It is writing and playing like this that gives me the pleasure that I only really find in jazz music. Even the final track, “Por Mi Fe Los Cuentos” (By My Faith the Tales), which features rap with a hip hop beat does not detract from the overall effect of the album due to the use of the trumpet, sax and keyboard supporting the drums of Joan Casares.

Fresh Sound New Talent does a terrific job of bringing new jazz talent to the fore (this is the label that gave us the superb saxophonist Sam Braysher) and the album Smack 7 Dab can be found at

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