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Oscar Penas Quartet
Barcelona-born guitarist, arranger, and composer Oscar Peñas makes his Arts Garage debut with his quartet! A major league talent with a capacious musical imagination, Peñas embodies the limitless promise of jazz’s global reach. Peñas was already a widely respected figure on the international jazz scene before settling in New York City. Since then, he’s genuinely blossomed, creating a singular body of work that weaves together elements of jazz, Spanish folk music, and the European classical tradition.
Often working with unorthodox instrumentation, in this case, violinist Sara Caswell, bassist Moto Fukushima, and drummer Richie Barshay, Peñas presents a performance that doesn’t blend disparate influences so much as stitches them together with an internal emotional logic. Peñas established a vital new voice in New York with two critically hailed albums, most recently 2014’s Music of Departures and Returns featuring Gil Goldstein, Paquito D’Rivera, and Esperanza Spalding. Peñas’ latest project Almadraba, inspired by Andalusia’s ancient sustainable fishing practices, featured bass legend Ron Carter and premiered in 2018 at the BAM Next Wave Festival.
Guitarist/composer Oscar Peñas is a Barcelona, Spain native and a U.S. naturalized citizen. Leader of his ensembles, Peñas first started taking guitar lessons at eight and got acquainted with jazz at seventeen years old. At twenty-one, he left law school for his “mistress,” music, and at twenty-four, he moved to Boston, where he graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1999 and New England Conservatory of Music in 2007. Since then, he has lived in NYC.
Peñas’ innovative compositions, whose training began with classical studies and later progressed to jazz, have won the USA’s press and audiences’ attention, attracting a wide variety of fans through its unique combination of different grooves over the American jazz base. He leads his band with harmonic imagination and authenticity, writing his original compositions with minimalistic and sensitive musical strokes and exchanging spontaneous creativity with his bandmates. Though his early work was rooted in bebop, he later developed a more personal style thanks to a few conversations with the latest pianist Cecil Taylor in 2008, who advised him to embrace his cultural heritage. Subsequently, Peñas’ began crossing jazz with Iberian, South American, and classical strains.
His precise finger-picking technique is not a flashy one. It gives his fellow band members space for improvisations and shows all its artistry work, retaining considerable humility that remains no less impactful.
Frequently, he creates arrangements using the guitar, resulting in a sonic mix that never sacrifices clarity for density or volume despite the added layers of complexity. His compositions are visual with a story tale and improvisation. Oscar’s clever musical experimentation is the essence of his style. His diverse use of different genres to express ideas beyond those in his writings creates extraordinary musical experiences through novelty and particular artistic excellence when performing with his band. Peñas’ intuition and ear drive him into an amalgam of melodies aiming for the innovative unexpected.
Oscar does not look for cohering to a single signature style, sharing his five recordings with renowned American jazz masters Gil Goldstein, Paquito D’Rivera, Esperanza Spalding, and Ron Carter.
He is using his uniqueness in writing his originals for non-traditional instrumentation in jazz. As an independent artist who self-produces all his work it is astonishing to see his access to the best venues in the U.S. to showcase his work.
Oscar’s newly released album, “Almadraba,” features legendary bassist Ron Carter, is available to buy in L.P. and digital formats ONLY at CDBaby. The work is Peñas’ first arranged jazz-classical suite for a jazz quartet and string quartet (eight-piece ensemble). “Almadraba” premiered at BAM Next Wave Festival in 2018.
Violinist Sara Caswell is from Bloomington, Indiana, USA. A Grammy Nominee, jazz educator. Rooted in early exposure to various musical genres, Sara’s technical facility intertwined with her gift for lyricism continues to attract growing attention to her artistry as a jazz soloist, sideman, and teacher.
Sara is currently faculty at Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. She was raised in a musical family and began playing violin at age 5. A graduate of Indiana University, which she attended under full scholarship as a Wells Scholar, Sara received B.M. Degrees with High Distinction and an Artist Diploma in Violin Performance and Jazz Studies. In 2006 Sara completed her M.M. Degree in Jazz Violin at the Manhattan School of Music.
Sara has been performing with Oscar Peñas at different prestigious venues, and she is part of Peñas’ album “Music of Departures and Returns” 2014.
Born in Kobe, Japan, based in NYC, six-string bass player, composer, and shamisen player Motohito Fukushima was given the Outstanding Performer Award before graduating Summa Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music. He studies Western Classical music, Japanese traditional music, and the African-inspired musical sensibilities of South American tunes in his jazz improvisations. Moto’s playing is a fantastic combination of finesse, subtlety, and power seen in his performances as a sideman with many other artists.
Motohito has enjoyed playing with Oscar Peñas since 2011 at Peñas’ quartet, and he is part of two of Peñas’ albums recordings, “From Now On,” 2011 and “Music of Departures and Returns,” 2014. Fukushima is an endorsed bass player by: Aguilar Amplification.
Richie Barshay began drumming inside kitchen cabinets early and continues banging on things worldwide. Born in Connecticut, he has led outreach projects across five continents as an American Musical Envoy with the U.S. State Department. Richie has recorded over 80 albums as a sideman and his two self-produced albums. Based in New York City and Northampton, MA, he is an AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher and maintained a private practice for performing artists and others to regain better mind-body coordination and ease of movement.
Barshay and Oscar have been performing together since 2009. Richie is on both U.S. albums releases, “From No On” and “Music of Departures and Returns.” Also, on the coming out, “Almadraba.”
Oscar Penas – Leader, Composer, Electric Guitarist
Sara Caswell – Violinist
Motohito Fukushima – Electric Bass
Richie Barshay – Drums
Price $40 – $45
Venue Arts Garage
94 NE 2nd Ave
Delray Beach, FL 33444 GET DIRECTIONS
Phone Number 561.450.6357