Rebecca Martin and Larry Grenadier opened with a great concert on December 15 at the Barcelona Jazz Festival a winter programme that will take the two Violipiano Music artists to Italy, France and The Netherlands before its closure on January 1.

The couple, who had saxophonist Bill McHenry as guest at the  Conservatori del Liceu in the Catalan city, were then due for a weekend at the Venezia Jazz Festival from the 16th to the 18th.

The musical understanding between the refined American singer, songwriter and guitar player Martin and her husband, a giant of modern jazz bass, has enthralled audiences in hundreds of international venues and in several recordings since Martin’s 1998 debut album Thoroughfare.

They were last together in a studio with Portugal’s Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos to record After Midnight, a release of early 2022 containing Martin’s original compositions and standards. The orchestra adds colour and enriches the singer’s intimate mood, while the piece In the Nick of Time well portrays the affinity between Grenadier and Martin, who wrote the lyrics to an earlier composition by the bassist, titled State of the Union.

In Venice they play on the arrival day at Laguna Libre, a classy jazz club facing the Canale di Cannaregio, one of the town’s main waterways. In the following two days, the Benedetto Marcello conservatory of music hosts their joint masterclass Getting to the heart of a song, a title that brings to mind the lyrics of The Space in a Song to Think, from Martin’s 2008 album The Growing Season.

The singer’s voice can be firm, bright or melancholic as it conveys the mood of her compositions, but she is likewise marvellously at ease whe she ventures into challenging jazz standards, as in When I Was Long Ago, recorded in 2010 alongside Grenadier and McHenry. The following year she was among the nominees as best female jazz singer at the New York-based Jazz Journalist Association Awards.

Grenadier’s bass playing, which he refined in memorable collaborations with Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny and John Scofield, found a proper celebration in his solo album The Gleaners, a 2019 work produced by ECM’s founder Manfred Eicher. Fans can expect a few excerpts from the work, about which Grenadier said: “Manfred planted the seed of making a solo album, and I cultivated it as an artistic challenge.”

Another picturesque venue in nearby Ferrara hosts the couple’s show the following day. They will play inside the Torrione di San Giovanni; the tower, built in the late 15th century, is part of the town’s fortifications and since 1999 houses the Ferrara Jazz Club.

Next stop is Paris, not far from the Musée du Louvre, with concerts on the 21st and 22nd at Sunset-Sunside, one of the coolest jazz clubs in the city. A warm welcome is expected a day later in Amsterdam, where the Bimhuis concert hall claims to “have been a junction in the national and international network of groundbreaking music since 1974.” In 2005, the Bimhuis moved inside the large state-of-the-art Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (Music Building on the IJ river). Rebecca and Larry return to Italy to wrap up their tour in fine style at Umbria Jazz Winter. The prestigious event has set aside four dates for them in Orvieto from December 29 to January 1.

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Photo by Todd Chalfant