Albert Marquès is a pianist, composer, and political activist from a working class, industrial town outside of Barcelona, where he worked in factories through school. A member of a Catalan anti-capitalist organization as a teenager, he narrowly escaped being detained for his activism.
Influenced by the local punk scene, as well as jazz recordings of musicians like Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, Michel Camilo and Herbie Hancock, he was self-taught until he attended Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu. After graduation, he made two pivotal trips which changed his life, spending a month in the West Bank in Palestine and a month in Cuba.
During his four years in Barcelona, he played with the best musicians of the scene, such as Marc Miralta, thanks to his unique, non-academic sound. Upon graduating, he moved to Paris, where he worked in a McDonald’s until he learned French. In Paris, he played with musicians such as Remi Vignolo and Pierre Perchaud, and became the pianist in African American drummer Leon Parker’s quartet.
At 25, Albert moved to New York City, without knowing even one person, to play jazz. After a year and a half working as a waiter and going to jam sessions every night, he met his mentor Arturo O’Farrill, who gave him his own baby grand piano. In addition to his musical influence and encouragement, O’Farrill hired him to teach with his organization, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, a non-profit that gives free Latin jazz music lessons in the most disadvantaged New York City public schools. Albert also plays and collaborates with his sons, Adam and Zack O’Farrill.
In 2014, he married the sculptor Mia Pearlman, with whom he has two children, Aviva and Sol. It is in New York that he finally combined his biggest influences: contemporary jazz, flamenco, Afro Cuban music and social justice by creating Freedom First. He has recorded four albums as a band leader, and regularly collaborates with rhythm master Ari Hoenig, Spanish flamenco singer and saxophonist Antonio Lizana, and other American and European musicians.
Marques is the Music Director at the Institute for Collaborative Education in NY, a progressive, public middle and high school in downtown Manhattan.