It was probably only a matter of time when Chano Domínguez would be cast on a larger European stage. The fact that this was to be with the fabled WDR Big Band and one conducted by Vince Mendoza is certainly to be viewed as a bonus at that. And what an Ideal way of presenting not only Spanish music in the unique polyglot of this fine pianist but also to suggest the state of the art of jazz in Europe, something that the Spaniard has been drawing attention to time and again, year after year. Something would be amiss, however, if I did not recognise this record, Soleando, as one of the most fascinating recordings by Chano Domínguez. Note that this is despite what a vast array of stellar soloists the WDR Big Band has associated with as well as the many breathtaking recordings also that Chano Domínguez has made in association with many luminaries.
First off, when Chano Domínguez plays it is as if a near-Babel-like world takes birth. The pianist drinks from a musical well situated where four continents meet: Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. So unique is his ability to quote from various musical dialects that it seems almost trite to suggest that here is a fusion of the European and the African-American and the Middle-Eastern musics. It is more like a cultural collision that begins not cerebrally, but deep within the soul and the spirit. The music of Chano Domínguez stirs and swirls in such a bottomless wellspring, churning and whirling and twirling, and pirouetting with balletic grace as it breaks out of his body through his fingers on a welcoming keyboard. The piano dances at his command, shy at first flirtation, but then completely seduced by his masculinity. His phraseology is unique, full of darting and stabbing lines punctuated by the dark vocalastic magic of Blás Córdoba, and the unimaginably beautiful rhythms of Daniel Navarro and El Piraña.
But let’s not get carried away forgetting where we really are with this recording. In many ways this amazing musical collusion between Chano Domínguez and the WDR Big Band is like an operatic overture evolving from chattered or munched syllables through to a vehicle for the composer’s most exalted thoughts that are turned over into music renowned throughout the world for its power and pizzazz. The music combines the pounding energy of Chano Domínguez and his ensemble with the splendid, arresting brass and woodwind fanfare of WDR Big Band. There are fine new performers in the larger orchestra, but all of the familiar voices also grace the roster. Thus, predictably brilliant performances by alto saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer and tenor saxophonists Olivier Peters and Paul Heller grace the record.
This is a true collision of some of the world’s most vibrant cultures. However, I can’t help supporting the idea that a small part of that world – triangulating between Spain, the Middle East and Moorish North Africa – prevails in the music of Chano Domínguez. In all of the material here, especially when Blás Córdoba and Daniel Navarro are involved, the range of utterance, whether rapt or stark, declamatory or exultant is beautifully judged. Those two musicians together with El Piraña and with the mentor to them all, Chano Domínguez, the soloists are especially effective in fixing the mood of hushed, spiritual intensity, all the more evocative when set in contrast with Vince Mendoza’s beautiful arrangements and the Big Band’s urgent pleading. The quiet ecstasy that ensues crowns a performance that is to be judged to a nicety as it summons up the music’s entire magical aura.
Track List: Martinete; Mentidero; Soleando; Plaza de Mina; Parque Genoveses; Habanera de la Alameda; Rumbetango; El Aguacero; Mas Que Swing.
Personnel: Johann Hörlen: alto saxophone, flute & clarinet; Karolina Strassmayer: alto saxophone, flute & clarinet; Olivier Peters: tenor saxophone, flute & clarinet; Paul Heller: tenor saxophone, flute & bass clarinet; Jens Neufang: baritone saxophone, flute & bass clarinet; Wim Both: trumpet & flugelhorn; Rob Bruynen: trumpet & flugelhorn; Andy Haderer: trumpet & flugelhorn, John Marshall: trumpet & flugelhorn; Ludwig Nuss: trombone; Marshall Gilkes: trombone; Andy Hunter: trombone; Mattias Cederberg: bass trombone; Paul Shigihara: guitar; John Goldsby: bass; Hans Dekker: drums and Vince Mendoza: arranger and conductor. Guests: Chano Domínguez: piano; Daniel Navarro: baila y palmas; Blás Córdoba: cantaor y palmas; Israel Suárez “El Piraña”: percussion.
About Chano Domínguez
Chano Domínguez is one of the most celebrated jazz musicians “recruited” by flamenco. Although Chano had already learned flamenco –the first instrument he learned to play, by ear, was the guitar- he also ventured into rock with his keyboard. Before he descended fully onto the flamenco scene with his “Chano Domínguez Trío”, he had already worked with renowned artists such as Pepe de Lucía, Potito and Juan Manuel Cañizares. Chano Domínguez has achieved an unusual integration between rhythms and languages of jazz and flamenco. Read more…