New ways to listen, play and create – an interview with Albert Cirera

Andrzej Nowak (

The Catalonian saxophonist Albert Cirera, who resides in Lisbon, step by step, is becoming an increasingly expressive figure on the European scene of improvised music. Another successful year is behind him. From the Polish perspective, it seems interesting that two of his last year's productions - perhaps the most striking ones - were released by domestic publishers. I am thinking here of The Liquid Trio album "Plays Bernoulli" (with Agusti Fernandez and Ramon Prats, Foundation Hear!), And also about his first solo album "Lisboa's Work" (Multikulti Project / Spontaneous Music Tribune Series). In addition, the musician visited for the first time in our country at concerts, and also participated in several interesting recording sessions. Therefore, we have nothing left but to give him a voice to personally summarize the last twelve months of his artistic path

Could resume your whole year 2017? Recordings, important gigs and things that made you are better improviser than before.

Resume 2017 It will be a difficult issue because was a great year with a lot of nice concerts and new experiences. To quote some I could say that the recording and meeting with Florian Stoffner in March. Is great when you meet a musical brother soul and of course in the life. The concerts and recording with Liquid Trio and Quintet. In January we made three concerts that make me change a lot the way of playing or at least I could experiment a new way of playing that I was searching. More calm, I guess. Also the 10th anniversary of DUOT with our two concerts of ten hours. Also these two experiences made me change in a  way. Were exceptional. Also the release of "Suite Salada"*), that became the best record for the critics in the biggest music journal of Catalonia. Of course the solo record, and how Agustí Fernandez helped me a lot to find out my voice into this recording. I'm very happy of the result. And a lot more that I couldn't remember or we will all night talking about them. Actually 2017 has been a very productive year and I'm very happy to all what it happened on it.

2017 also brought a compilation record of your unusual duet recordings under the name “Croniques”, which were previously available only in files on the Discordian Records website. Could you bring us closer to this series, and at the same time add, do you plan to continue?

Well, the compilation was not planed at the beginning of the Croniques series. I only wanted to experiment for myself the fact to record in duo with some musicians that I was meeting the first year that I was living in Portugal. Like Olle Vikstrom, that he was here for an Erasmus exchange and Johannes Nastesjö put us in contact. Ulrich Mitzlaff and Carlos Zingaro, were recommendations of my friend and mentor Agustí Fernandez, and after the first meeting with them I realize why. And finaly Alvaro Rosso that was a bas player that was living in Barcelona for a while and we always had a nice friendship and musical correction.

At the end of the fourth recordings I thought that a compilation in a CD would be nice. So I asked to Rui Eduardo Paes, one of the best critics in Portugal, to do the selection and a liner notes. He accepted and after a year to safe some money for the edition, I release the compilation. Now I'm also working in the edition of a record for Discordian with some parts of the two concerts the we did the “Croniques” five of us playing together last October. It was a really nice experience have all the musicians at the same moment and improvise together. I'm really happy for those two concerts.
This year I was thinking in do an other set of four recording, but at the end I guess It will be different duo recordings in different labels and different musician...2018 will be a duo year!

Tell us more about working in an improvising duo. What is important, what must happen for a particular duo to be really successful? Are the earlier arrangements between musicians so important or do you rely only on instinct?

I don't really know what must happen for a successful duo. But with duos, for me is the best way to know a musician, and creates really new music. A duo is a direct conversation, a direct exchange and contra-position of ideas. If the duo works is great if the duo doesn't work your feel it immediately. But so far all the musicians that I play with are great and I am really happy how ideas change playing with one or other musician, and how each one show me new paths or new ways to listen, play and create.

I don't like to talk about the music before a recording session or a gig, music talk for itself. You have to be patient and listen how the other musician play and listen and try to find a common point where both can feel free and comfortable to create new music. Is one of the most beautiful thing on improvise music - feel and enjoy of this process. The only thing that I suggest always in recording sessions, never in live concerts, is at the end of the duo recording try to play some little impros, like Japanese1/ Haikus, no more that 2 minutes ideas. I like it a lot how concentrated ideas come up.

Last year, for the first time, you gave concerts and recorded music in Poland. Share with us the impressions of the concerts, as well as the recording sessions made with Polish musicians.

Well I was really happy to come and play in Poland for the first time! First I did a solo concert and duo with Witold Oleszak in Poznan. Was really nice! We also recorded with Witold and hope it will come out a nice duo cd with really interesting music. It was the really first meeting at the studio! Then I went to Krakow to record with Rafal Mazur in duo too. We already know each other from our concert in Vic Jaz festival with the Liquid Quintet. Also very nice recording! Then I went to Warsaw to play with the Liquid Quintet with Agusti Fernandez, Ramon Prats, Rafał Mazur and Artur Majewski. Was a fantastic concert and I really liqued the concentration of the audience and all the Ad Libitum Festival, at least the two days I could attend. And at last we went with a quartet without Agustí to play in Lodz. In a new cafe. Was a nice concert too, pity that i was not so many people. So at the end was a very intense week in Poland, a lot of nice music, and great new musicians! I hope I will come again, actually in I guess that I'll be playing and recording in Krakow with a new project that I'm very exited to start. But, for now, I prefer to don't revel more things. It will come!

Albert, let's get back to your first solo album "Lisboa's Work". Tell us more about working on this CD. I know you have recorded a lot of material. I had the opportunity to listen to him after the initial selection. To this day, I do not know how you managed to make such a good choice of these eleven tracks that we eventually hear on the album.

Well, I recorded the solo record in my home. I have a little isolated studio where I practice. I I wanted that dry sound for the album escaping from the reverb sound from most of the solo albums. So a friend of mine borrow me some material as microphones and all this staff and I started to record. Recording, listen, recording, listen, walking, listen, recording, etc...for five days. After that I had 75 tracks, too many! So I did a first selection and I had 40 more or less.
Then I started to do the final selection but it was so difficult to me. So one day I was talking about this to Agustí Fernandez, and he told me that he had the same problem with his second solo record, but he was helped, at the end by his friend and amazing musician Peter Kowald, so Peter made the final selection. So, I asked to Agustí if he wanted to do the same like Peter did for him, and he accepted, so he became the artistic producer of the cd. After a month he send me his selection. We discussed a little bit, we just changed one track that I was not agree, but the hard job and the idea and concept of the CD came from Agusti's hears. I think that is nice to have an “external ears” to listen to your music. Moreover if  it's a first solo cd and you are full of doubts and questions, so have Agustí as a producer was great. Also I learn a lot how to create a set list for a CD, how to create a history, how to link one piece to the next one. Thanks Agustí!!!

Albert, you play almost exclusively on tenor and soprano saxophones. You once told me, it was probably after your solo concert in Poznań last fall, that when you play the soprano saxophone, you always know what you're going to play next. However, when you improvise on a tenor saxophone, your head bursts you with thousands of ideas for sound and you're not always sure what's going to happen next. Could you comment?

Well, I don't remember that, and actually is not really true. I have the both sensations with tenor and soprano. What I can explain about the difference between tenor and soprano is that I practice a lot more the tenor than the soprano. This entails that with tenor I can risk much more than with the soprano I guess, somehow I have more control for the unexpected. But with the soprano I'm risking all the time because I don't have such "control" that I have with the tenor. However I like this feeling of no control what I'm doing with both saxes. Actually I don't really know if I know what I want to do or not with the two of them, I just tray to be in the moment.

Please, tell us at the end of our conversation, what are you working on now, what are your plans for the release of new records, and what is extremely important to us when you are going to Poland again for concerts?

Well, now I'm working to edit a lot of new cd's, mostly duos. As I said this year will be a duo year. But also, we just record with AAA (Abdul Moimeme and Alvaro Rosso, and me), also a collaboration of DUOT and Florian Stoffner, any many new things that will come through this year I guess. And also I would like to invest more time to a project that is already working but because is a six piece band and in Barcelona is hard to organize things… but I really want to work on this band. It’s called Albert Cirera & Kamarilla.

I hope that this year I will come to Poland several times. For now I can say that in June I'll be there starting a new project with a polish musician and other from Switzerland. We'll see what it happen, but I'm looking forward to it! Also there is a possibility to come with Duot and Andy Moor, but so far nothing is, I guess I will apear at least a couple of times in Poland, that I really want it! It was great the first time!

Thank you Albert for conversation!

Thanks to you, and thanks to all people that goes to live concert, in Poland and in everywhere!

*) it’s about a group Albert Cirera & Tres Tambores