VALENCIA. Pianist Chano Dominguez is in Valencia rehearsing a classical piece he wrote for brass quintet and piano for a July concert.(He’s working with Spanish Brass) But Chano, who has been living in the US for the past three years, decided he didn’t want to hang out at his hotel in the evenings so, without fanfare, he scheduled two nights of solo piano at Cafe Mercedes, an intimate club that feels like a living room. “I just want to play and see some friends,” he said in a sidewalk conversation before the show. (And I mean intimate, Club Mercedes by my rough count seats 60 people. Maybe)
Wednesday, playing on a stand up piano (yes, there was a concert piano somewhere behind the curtain but could not be used. Don’t ask.) he revisited “Marcel,” a piece for his youngest son, some Monk, a restless “My One and Only Love” and then invited Uruguayan violinist Federico Nathan (whom he had met the day before) to join him for three pieces that covered a lot of ground, from “I Got Rhythm” and “Footprints” to some Bartokian sidetrips.
Chano has integrated elements of flamenco and jazz in such an organic way that, at this point, discussing the parts means missing the whole. He has an unromantic, percussive attack and his single note runs sound more classical technique than bop. But what you really notice in his versions of standards is the pulse, an underlying beat that suggests flamenco and makes it all feel both familiar and different.
The highlight was the encore however, a mournful solo piano version of McCoy Tyner’s “Search for Peace,” which Chano turned into a meditation on the violence in Manchester. “I have two teenagers who go to those kind of concerts,” he said when introducing the song. He ended the piece ambiguously, fittingly unresolved.