PenJa’m electronic improvisation in Valencia
It’s two years ago now that I went for the first time to PenJa’m. An electronic improvisation Jam session. I’m not a musician, my wife is, she’s violin player of the klezmer and Balkan group Besarabia. She has played in many improvisation sessions and learnt the art from the legendary Arnold Dooyeweerd in the jazz venue Bimhuis in Amsterdam.
She was excited about the gig and so we decided to have a look. The improvisation jam session was held in a bar in the famous “barrio” Cabanyal in Valencia near the beach. Just in case I brought my NIKON D3500 with me and a 50mm. I know it can get dark in bars sometimes, so I thought I could use a low aperture lens if I decided to make some pictures.
And, oh boy it was dark…
And besides that it was also a pleasant surprise that the electronic jam included dancers as well. As the girlfriend of the guy who organized the improvisation session was a dancer. And so they had made some space where the dancers could show there impro act as well. Reacting on the music and the musicians reacting on the movements of the dancers.
This was great–
The only rules that Xavi made for the improvisation session was that the electronics used were not directly coming out of a computer. Laptops were not encouraged as he didn’t want to have the classic computer beats. Old fashioned sample machines and other electronic gear was welcome. And of course electronic instruments like the bass, guitar and in my wives case an electric violin were welcome as well.
The musicians and dancers of the PenJa’m were super nice, and it felt that we suddenly had enriched ourselves with a bunch of new friends. Heidi, my wife, was super enthusiast about the electric jam as well and asked the other members of the group to come and play along as well. And Eva, the percussionist and singer of the group comes regularly to the PenJa’m. She’s great in making up stories on the spot as she has done a lot of improvisation sessions, but with theatre instead of music.
And so I became not only the lead photographer of the group Besarabia, but started to document the PenJa’m sessions as too. Trying to capture the spirit of the improvisation. The dance, story telling and electronic music. Sometimes there was even a VJ which made the whole session even more intriguing and more fun for me to shoot photo’s.