Maureen Choi Qu4rtet: Ida y Vuelta

Maureen Choi Qua4rtet: Ida y VueltaViolinist Maureen Choi is well on the way to finding her voice and even if it takes a few more years she will eventually get there. Already possessed of a strong technique and unafraid to let her emotions show Choi has a plan, which is to eschew la vida loca and answering the call of the music of South America; pursuing its every whisper and every shout through each nook and cranny, unearthing whatever she can find under the rock of tradition. But like every successful recipe, there’s a secret ingredient: in the case of Maureen Choi, it is – and one can only guess, because she isn’t ready to reveal all yet – probably a mistura fina of the Spanish tradition generously spiced with the heat and dust of the Afro-Caribbean tradition.

It is never easy for a classically-trained musician to make an album in any non-classical style. Finding the unity of theme and narrative contained in everything from a suite, sonata, concerto and symphony can be a challenge with five or seven or more shorter pieces even if he or she restricts the music to a single tradition. The same pitfalls may have awaited Ida y Vuelta. However much of the agonising for Maureen Choi and her quartet have been virtually nullified by making the idiomatic journey across South America. And the inevitable seduction of the more meditative and introspective aspects of the Bolero and the Valse, and the spritely rhythms of other forms of Afro-Caribbean music have been given voice in the ardent lines and expressive power of Choi’s violin.

Maureen Choi together with pianist Daniel Garcia Diego, bassist Mario Carrillo and drummer Michael Olivera have created a riveting repertoire on Ida y Vuelta. Choi keeps the expressive range within the autumnal parameters: melancholy, lightly fretful, inward and dignified. Whereas Garcia Diego – and especially Carrillo and Olivera – are more forceful and demonstrative, Choi plays (as she does on that iconic Ladino masterpiece “Alfonsina y El Mar”) more intimately, as if for herself alone. But there is nothing hermetic about her approach. Gently, insistently, quietly, she draws us all into the music of Ida y Vuelta and the results are thoroughly absorbing.

Rather than pair these relatively short works, most lasting only a few minutes, with each other and forcing a holistic theme über alles, Maureen Choi unifies them through the heat of Latin-American emotion. “Negra Presuntuosa” works well as a thorny but powerful piece, just as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol” soars with pure, concentrated beauty and burns up in the atmosphere like final-stage propellant. And there is similar magnificence everywhere you look.

This lovely disc reveals the violin of Maureen Choi as a kind of private sketch pad, or journal, capturing big emotions on a small scale, with a poetic concentration in sharp contrast to the larger, more furious musical gestures of many, more famous violinists who shall remain nameless for now.

Track List: 1: Ida y Vuelta; 2: Vals o Vienes; 3: Valentía; 4: Bolero Del Alba; 5: Elizabeth; 6: Alfonsina y El Mar; 7: Negra Presuntuosa; 8: Dama De Noche; 9: Bilongo; 10: Capriccio Espagnol; 11: Gracias A La Vida.

Personnel: Maureen Choi: violin; Daniel Garcia Diego: piano; Mario Carrillo: double bass; Michael Olivera: drums; Pepe Rivero: piano (3, 8, 9); Javier Colina: double bass (6); Angel “Cepillo” Sanchez: hand claps, percussion (1, 5); David Montes: vocals (3, 7, 8, 9); Natalia Calderon: vocals (3, 7, 8, 9); Marina Lledo: vocals (3, 7, 8, 9).

Released: 2016
Label: BarCo Records
Run time: 1:00:33


Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

More from author

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

Promotionspot_img
Promotionspot_img

Featured Posts

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

A Brief History of the Cuban Style Conjunto

1930: The Orquesta Típica is out and the Conjunto is in The year 1930 marked a turning point in the development of popular Cuban music....

Jazz Plaza 2020: Speaking in Tongues

Chapter three of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana Featured photo: Los Muñequitos de Matanzas at El Tablao in Havana, by Danilo...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more