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Ever since I can remember it has become commonplace for any music that combined Afro-Caribbean rhythmic tempi with the improvisational aspect of Jazz to be classified as “Latin-Jazz”. With the explosion of South American music in continental USA, the term has all but been obliterated, so much so, that in many musical circles, artists shy away from the term; and that term itself (although we use it more often than we should) may also have become something of a pejorative. But lest I sound too harsh, this is actually a musician’s revolt against being typecast. The sophisticated Colombian group Carrera Quinta is one such ensemble that embodies every reason why contemporary South American music cannot be so narrowly classified; indeed why it makes no sense at all to classify any music at all much less the music that this group creates with such élan.

On Traslaciones (literally, Translations), these spectacularly scholarly musicians, co-led by pianist Francy Montalvo and guitarist Javier Pérez Sandoval revisits the music of their native Colombia with an emphasis on the music of its Andean region. Unsurprisingly, of course, the genius of the arrangers is to recreate the work of the greatest composers of that region of the country.

This means crafting folk-forms in a contemporary mould while preserving the unique rhythms of such traditional forms as La puya rebelde, Bambuco fiestero, Merengue bambuquiao, Hayno, Rajaleña, Guabina among other better and less well-known ones. The repertoire on this album features music that has been re-written with spectacular contrapuntal and architectural clarity.

Marvellous examples of counterpoint between guitar and piano, and guitar and brass as well as winds are heard in such songs as “El Corazón de la Caña” “A Pesar de Tanto Gris” and “El Beso Que Le Robé a la Luna”. The latter song also features some wonderfully dissonant harmonies and is a model of its kind, thanks to its unfailing energy, perfectly weighted touch and beautifully imagined layering of texture and dynamics.

The music also features the familiar high and lonesome sound of Andean flutes woven into this music, something that evokes pastoral settings along the Andean slopes. The music is performed with unswerving elegance by the members of Carrera Quinta, which is heard in its “sextet” incarnation. Ultimately the sense of beauty in this music results not only from the evocative nature of the folk-forms presented here, but also in the sense of occasion that emanates from the playing by these wonderful musicians.

Track list – 1: El Corazón de la Caña; 2: El Vuelo; 3: A Bordo de Tu Voz; 4: Después Que Me Olvide de Tí; 5: A Pesar de Tanto Gris; 6: Pesares; 7: El Beso Que Le Robé a la Luna

Personnel – Francy Montalvo: piano; Javier Pérez Sandoval: electric guitar; Pedro Acosta: drums; Dario Montoya: flute; Daniel Montoya: electric bass; Pavel Zuzaeta: trumpet; César Medina: alto and soprano saxophones

Released – 2019
Label – Universidad el Bosque
Runtime – 38:07

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