Review written by: Raul da Gama
It will always remain one of those travesties of history that cultural exchanges—especially musical ones –between Europe and the orient began with the second Caliphate (circa 600AD) and continued well into the Middle Ages, until the Crusades put an end to all that “living in a virtual global village”. A greater travesty however, is the ignorance of the splendid native cultures of the Americas, despite four of the greatest voyages of discovery by Christopher Columbus, who, it seems put commerce and inquisition above all else. It is fortuitous that the cultures of the so-called Latin American cultures survived not only the Spanish Conquistadores, but also—in the case of Brasil—the Portuguese as well. The music of contemporary Mexico, as expressed by modern geniuses such as Hector Infanzón and his nephew Daniel-López, which in turn is deeply rooted in the old sones veracruzanos, huapangos huastecos, chilenas, mambos and danzones is a case in point. Daniel López Infanzón in fact, makes a good point when he suggests that were this Europe even Bela Bartok and Igor Stravinsky might have found this grist for their musical grinding.
At any rate, the music of 8 Momentos 8 Fotografias fires up that theory by producing some of the most fascinating melodic, harmonic, and above all, rhythmic inventions heard since the great bassist and composer, Charles Mingus produced his exquisite “Isabel’s Table Dance” on one of his many seminal Latin-tinged albums, Tijuana Moods (Bluebird, 1962). Of course the Latin influence in Jazz was evinced much earlier than that, with Jelly Roll Morton; then, with the classic collaborations between Machito and Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie from 1948 to 1954 that produced The Original Mambo Kings, on was heard “The Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite,” “The Manteca Suite,” “Tanga” and so much more.
But to hear this music from the proverbial source, such as Daniel López Infanzón is like receiving a wondrous gift. The gift is, in fact, the ingenuity of Daniel-López Infanzón’s musicality—specifically his pianism in which sublime technique and a style rampant with new thinking and flowing with ideas seems to be the norm. Like his uncle, Hector Infanzón his piano playing is extroverted and it appears that he bares his soul in his music with deftly controlled expression, dazzling versatility and depth of emotion. His touch is spry, unlike many of the pianists emerging from Cuba and other Latin American countries, who favor a more Africanized/Percussive style. Daniel López Infanzón plays more like he has mastered an instrument in a European context, as if, for instance, it evolved from the harpsichord. To this extent he may be compared—only on technique—to pianists such as Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett. However, his voice is singular and sprightly.
To have a measure of exactly what this means the track, “El Gágago (Pajarillo Mexicano)” must be listened to with eyes closed and soul ajar. As the music is let in the discovery of a voice that is like that of a beautiful songbird makes a lithe assault on the deepest recesses of that invisible part of the human being, bringing ecstasy in an immeasurable manner. Of course this is only one of the charts that enchants the spirit, As a matter of fact; every one of the 8 Momentos is fascinating in its own way. All of them are rooted in folklore and dancing rhythms that have the body swaying and rocking and dancing even if found to be in sitting position.
But there is something else fascinating about this album that merits mention here and that lies in the folk content—the rhythmic content, to be specific—of this music. This is the music of Mexico, a country not in south or Central America, but in Continental America. The rhythms of the huapangos are so similar to the joropo of Peru and the chacarera of Cordoba, Argentina that it would appear that there is a long rhythmic line that stretches from Mexico (perhaps ever further north in parts of native Continental USA) through almost all of South and Central America—including, in some cases, even Brasil. Listening to “Aquí y Ahora” and the spectacular “Hijita Mia” will provide some proof of this exciting fact.
And finally there is the work on this album itself. It is music of immense genius and worthy of an Infanzón, who must be, by now, become a cultural ambassador of the music of Mexico if his esteemed uncle abdicates in his favor.
Track Listing: 1. Aquí y Ahora; 2. Torito; 3. Hijita Mia; 4. Intriste; 5. La Casa Vieja; 6. El Gágago (Pajarillo Mexicano); 7. Nostalgia; 8. Frontera Norte.
Personnel: Daniel López Infanzón: piano; Jaico González: saxophones, flutes, EWI; Aleph Castañeda: contrabass (2 – 4, 6, 7); Ismael Barrientos: electric bass (1, 5, 8); Paco Godoy: drums; Leo Muñoz Corona: percussion; Giovanni Figueroa: drums (8); Isidro Martínez: trumpet (8); Juan Ramos: tenor saxophone (8); Esteban Rivera: trombone (8); Luis Felipe Luna: jarana (6).
Daniel López Infanzón’s website: www.myspace.com/daniellopezinfanzon
Label: Self Produced
Release date: August 2011