Julian Pujols-Quall (piano), Ethan Bailey-Gould (guitar)

Compositional Cues And Loops Fire Young Band, Julián & Friends, at Jazz Showcase

     Fresh offerings from composer-pianist Julián Pujols-Quall’s ensemble, Julián & Friends, were served up at Chicago’s venerable Jazz Showcase on June 22 and included in a return engagement the following week. The young leader and arranger teamed up with his sympatico Peabody Institute schoolmate Ethan Bailey-Gould on guitar, former Whitney High School Performing Arts musical mate Charlie O’Neill on drums, and friend Leo Buszkowski on bass to magnificent effect. Sparkling original pieces from each band member inspired silver-toned aerial improvisations within their agile quartet. Particularly lyrical and free flowing, Bailey Gould’s “Machine That Powers Itself ” and Pujols-Quall’s “Curtains” were showcased in both sets on debut night. 

       Julián articulated the origin of the magnificent “Curtains”: “I think my favorite element of structure in my compositions are cues and loops. It isn’t necessarily a new idea, Wynton Marsalis used it in Knozz-Moe-King forty years ago. But giving restrictions to form does give tons of freedom to the improviser. In “Curtains,” the head isn’t restated at the end but transformed into 7 short loops where the percussionist has the liberty to decide how long the loops are for their solo, and how they choose to give contour to those loops. The piece is also highly influenced by the work of the Immanuel Wilkins Quartet and mainly based on that combination of sounds. Their overall mix and especially Kweku’s sound draw much from Sorsene and Dununba rhythms.” He went on to add, “Coincidentally, my drumming in a West African dance class at Peabody Institute have underscored a connection between dance and music, and these rhythms have seeped into the tune. I really want to make people dance with ‘Curtains.’ ”

      According to the young pianist, his main keyboard influences have been Barry Harris, Errol Garner, and fellow Chicagoan Ahmad Jamal, but his first love was for saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. “Cannonball’s solo on ‘Autumn Leaves’ is half of the reason I wanted to play jazz,” he reflected. “More recently, though, Venezuelan Merengue and West African rhythms are the stuff influencing me. I came up with Latin rhythms and classical music. Slow blues is a passion, bop informed my understanding of rhythmic concepts. Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder… so much resonated in my musical household.”

     The conservatory trained Pujols-Quall, who includes workshopping at Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Youth Camp on his resume’, is one to keep an eye on during and after his final year at Peabody in Baltimore.

– Peter M. Hurley, July 2022

Photo © Peter M. Hurley

Mr. Hurley is a contributing photographer and writer for Living Blues Magazine and the staff photographer for Chicago Blues Network. His recent book Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago, in collaboration with Blues historian and author David Whiteis, showcases his work in the field. His passion for blues music began with a 6th grade dance party discovery of Bo Diddley which led to Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and so on. It continues to this day. VISIT PETER’S WEBSITE HERE.