According to the Spanish press, jazz bassist Javier Colina is one of the nation's great musical treasures.
His passionate, woody, warm sound has graced dozens of albums since his emergence on Huecha's 1988 debut Ciudad. He has recorded and toured with Chano Domínguez, Carmen Linares, Beto Valdes, Tete Montoliu, and issued a bevy of highly-regarded albums including 2002's Si Te Contara, 2007's Live at the Village Vanguard, and 2017's Jazz a l'Estudi: Javier Colina; he is as at home in flamenco and Afro-Cuban son as he is in post-bop, modernist, and contemporary jazz.
Colina was born in Pamplona in 1960. His earliest studies were in piano, accordion, and guitar. He was deeply influenced by flamenco (a genre he continues to perform and record in) and other Spanish music before encountering jazz and teaching himself to play the unwieldy double bass. He began working in a trio with guitarist Perico Sambeat and pianist Jorge Rossy in the mid-'80s before beginning his recording career with Huecha. During the '90s, he was recruited by world-renowned jazz pianist and fellow Spaniard Dominguez and has worked with him on and off since. Because of his precision and openness to so many kinds of music, Colina has become an in-demand session and touring player in a variety of genres. He is a favorite of jazz pianists and his résumé includes stints with Hank Jones, John Hicks, and Michel Camilo. Other jazz musicians who have recruited him are saxophonist Gary Bartz, guitarist Pat Metheny, griot Toumani Diabaté, George Benson, and conguero Jerry González, to name just a few. His flamenco credits include collaborations with Tomatito, Diego El Cigala, and Enrique Morente.
Colina's credits as a leader are relatively few and are usually collaborative dates, but all have been acclaimed. His leader debut, Si Te Contara (2002) on Calle 54, included jazz, flamenco, and Cuban standards. In 2007, he and Valdés cut the concert date Live at the Village Vanguard, a year-end contender on many jazz critic's best-of lists (he also played on Valdes' and El Cigala's 2003 classic Lágrimas Negras). Throughout his career, Colina has become a favorite accompanist for singers in a variety of genres. He has worked with pop stars such as Juan Perro and Jorge Drexler, Cuban sonero Compay Segundo, and flamenco singers such as Luz Casal, Martirio, and Esperanza Fernández. In 2011, his own longstanding trio (with drummer Marc Miralta and pianist Albert Sanz) backed flamenco-cum-jazz singer Silvia Pérez Cruz on her award-winning breakthrough album En La Imaginación. In 2016 he collaborated with world-renowned flamenco guitarist Josemi Carmona and Bandolero for the award-winning De Cerca, and followed it in 2017 with Jazz a l'Estudi: Javier Colina (with Miralta, Albert Bover, and Martí Serra). Earlier that year, Colina and Dominguez recorded a live performance at Sala de Camara del Auditorio Nacional de Musica in Madrid comprised of jazz and flamenco standards; they were culled for the album Chano & Colina on Sunnyside in the late spring of 2018. The following year, Colina paired with pianist Pepe Rivero for the album El Pañuelo de Pepa. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi