At first, you might think Carballo can’t actually play the trumpet. The sounds he spawns on stage can hardly be called “jazz” – at least not in it’s “straightahead” swinging sense. Rather, alone on the stage with his head and his heart, he simply creates sound.
With intense, passionate concentration he conjures into existence acoustic landscapes you would never think to attribute to a trumpet if you did not actually witness his performance.
From placing the microphone inside the bell of his trumpet to create minimal and meditative percussive sounds to blowing into and swinging around a gas pipe, his “jazz” is essentially, really weird – but in a wonderful, wonderful way. Then again, this is the purpose of NAF, not so? To discover, hear, and feel things out of your comfort zone… the theme of this year’s festival is “disruption” after all.
Carballo is originally from Spain, and was trained in classical jazz, which he is clearly well-versed in. But, he admits to me after his performance, it’s boring. “I prefer to experiment,” he says. And experiment he does, improvising freely during the show.
Watching him produce such visceral sounds reveals the complexity behind their production. One man with a pair of lungs, a pair of hands, and an ‘instrument’ can create something almost cinematic. At times, I would tense in confusion and anticipation, unsure of what exactly he was doing, or going to do. But he would flawlessly go from low buzzing to familiar notes in a matter of seconds.
Discovery, he says, “is fundamental, is the root in my music”. While he discovers, so too does the audience. It is his first time at the National Arts Festival, but it is enough to prove that he deserves this platform, and this platform deserves him.
Julian Sanchez Carballo will play for one last time on 3 July at 7pm at the Graham Hotel.
By Amy Pieterse