BIO (ENG) | Carmen Nikol

Carmen Nikol | Locutora & Cantante

 

Carmen Nikol is already considered by critics to be a jazz singer of innovative status. Nikol, known for being the creator of vocalese (the art of putting lyrics to established instrumental music) in the Spanish language, “...could have fallen back on the typical melodies of the day,  but instead has opted for the discipline of jazz, she’s taken melodies that were based on improvisation, and has added lyrics to  these more or less  known instrumental solos. Carmen  Nikol’s done nothing less than invent spanish vocalese” (Juanma Játiva author of the book “Billie Holiday”). Jorge García, author of the book  “El  y Ella Los Mejores Voces del Jazz” (Men  and Women, The Best Voices In Jazz), proclaims that “....Without predecessors  she has literally taken up the difficult challenge of inventing a new idiom: vocalese in Spanish.”  

 

Born in 1975 in Barcelona, daughter of Andalusian parents, Carmen , “....an artist with an extraordinary natural talent for music” (Jorge Garcia), was influenced early on by a wide variety of musical diversity. Her first encounter with singing was her participation in local choral groups. An activity in which she enjoyed right through her college years as one of the outstanding members of the “Canto Coral”.

 

In 1998 she moved to Valencia and began to work singing jazz and blues with musicians such as Brian Trainor, David Pastor, Jeff Jerolamon and Richie Ferrer amongst others. She worked as a vocalist with the “All Jazz Big Band” and she performed concerts in duo with guitarist Joan Soler in a group they called “En Pausa”.

 

In the year 2003 Carmen formed the “Carmen Nikol Vocalese Experience” it waqs then that she began to be recognized as the spanish vocalese innovator. In June of the same year, with just 10 weeks of preparation, she accomplished the incredible feat of learning all the solos of nine songs, composing the lyrics, memorizing it all to sing in a live performance  and then recording them in the studio. And if that wasn’t enough, 4 of the takes used on the recording were done on the first take with the trio live. The rest were done as vocal  tracks, all on the first take.

 

The idea of vocalese is nothing new,  American  jazz vocal pioneers such as King Pleasure, Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks took already recorded improvised solos and placed lyrics to them. Nikol builds on this tradition by applying it to her own language (Spanish), the results are spectacular. As Jorge Garcia puts it, she’s “a jazz stylist in her own right, combining a keen sense of drama with a strong capacity for writing original story lines.” Juanma Játiva adds “...from the perspective of the nonconformist woman, transparent in her realistic texts.”

 

Nikol’s interpretation vibrates with an emotion rarely found in jazz singers today. As music critic Enrique Monfort proclaims, “when Carmen Nikol sings a ballad, there’s a sensitivity that seems to seep out from her very pores”. Juanma Játiva’s interpretation is that Carmen sings “ with an almost defiant character” and Jorge Garcia adds “...free of superficialities”.

 

One important observation to be made about Carmen’s style is her own personal stamp, that “Spanish tinge”, which never fails to manifests itself throughout her work. Or as Spanish author Jorge Garcia expresses it, “...one can’t help put feel something that hit’s home with us all.”

 

An interesting point not to be forgotten also is how she can sing such difficult passages and make them seem so natural and easy. As Garcia says “Another outstanding quality of Nikol is she sings the complex original improvisations in such an effortless manner....”

 

In 2004, the quartet began to tour, it played in clubs across Spain and also performed in concerts for Caja Duero and the international organization Instituto Cervantes. The latter selected Carmen to represent Spain at the International Jazz Festival “JazzSur Son 31” in Toulouse in October of 2004. The group also performed at Jazz festivals in Vall d’Uixo, Montserrat and Eliana.

 

In summary, Carmen Nikol delights us with the exquisiteness and elegance of her sublime yet daily life lyrics. An innovative presentation “...filled with furious passion, sung from the heart and soul”, “.... always giving the effect of extraordinary freshness”. “.....a challenge met with elegance and powerful expression”.

 

Carmen Nikol is an artist of extraordinary natural musical talent. Without predecessors, she has literally taken up the difficult challenge of inventing a new idiom: vocalese in Spanish.  Carmen has become a jazz stylist in her own right, combining a keen sense of drama with a strong capacity for writing original story lines. Although well within the jazz tradition, one can’t help put feel something that hit’s home with us all.. Another outstanding quality of Nikol is how she sings the complex original improvisations in such an effortless manner, always giving the effect of extraordinary freshness”

 

JORGE GARCÍA

Jazz Critic and author of

“Ellos y ellas, las mejores voces del jazz”

(Man & Women, The Outstanding Voices Of Jazz)

“Los mejores 100 discos de jazz”

(The 100 Best Jazz Records)

 

“An innovative spanish jazz record filled with furious passion, sung from the heart and soul. When Carmen Nikol sings a ballad, there is a sensitivity that seems to seep out from her very pores.”

 

ENRIQUE E. MONFORT

Music Critic.

Levante-EMV

 

Carmen Nikol sings with an almost defiant character from the perspective of the nonconformist woman, transparent  in her realistic texts. She could have fallen back on the typical melodies of the day,  but instead has opted for the discipline of jazz, she has taken melodies that were based on improvisation, and has added lyrics to  these more or less  known instrumental solos. Carmen  Nikol has done nothing less than invent spanish vocalese, a challenge met with elegance and powerful expression.

 

JUANMA JÁTIVA

Music critic for “El País”

and author of the book “Billie Holiday”