Review written by: Raul da Gama
For those wishing to hear what kind of music the Andrés Ortiz Trio makes, here is a clue: it would not be possible to describe it in two familiar words: “Latin Jazz”. The two words are most often ascribed to a musician of South American or Southern European origin and although two thirds of the trio would qualify for such ethnicity, their music has a much broader musical topography. The music swings—not only in the rhythmic sense—but in a broader, more classical stylistic sense, cutting a wide swathe that is somewhere between late-romanticism and abstract impressionism. There is much use of whole-tone scales, and going beyond this, modalism. Moreover the glorious timbres of the piano reign supreme, as do that of the shape-shifting bass and drums. But it is the glimmering sound of the piano crowns the magisterium of an enriched timber spot and this, in turn, gives new meaning to the melodicism of the music, through sensual motifs that make for enriched harmonisations.
True that the first few tracks of Recordando agitate the ocean of sound that pervades the album. It is almost as if the group is stirring up the waters, but as time and a gulp of choruses will tell, it is only to find a level for itself and the music to inhabit the real calm of the music. This is one where the pianist Andrés Ortiz V, bassist Antonio Cervellino and drummer Brian Quinn unite in the depths of the music’s emotional diadem: a heartfelt elation. On “Trueno” and “Así Fue” for instance, Ortiz uses the full range of the piano’s dynamics and from the softest expression of pianissimo to fortissimo, including the vast array of hues in between. His lines are like whispering brooks that glide over smooth stones and this is manifest in hushed triplets and faster, but equally soft arpeggios. There might suddenly be a crescendo, as the music demands it and then a great, thunderous chord announces a passage that is forthright and that rumbles above all else like a virtual avalange.
There are tracks—especially ones like “39,9,” with its ominous-sounding bass ostinato and rotating, rumbling tom-toms—that bring a semblance of the Latin tinge by suggesting calypso and other Afro-Caribbean rhythms, but that is all. Mere suggestions that tantalize are no match for the overpowering swell of joy that perpetuates throughout the music. It bears mention, here that the musicians possess sublime technique—and although there is no gratuitous virtuosity the displays of technique on the part of bassist Cervellino, in the bold pizzicato and intricate con arco passages, both on “Picaro” these play a masterly foil to the pianist. Quinn plays with deeply etched empathy here, sliding his brushes over the hoarse drum-skins, and then swishing them over the cymbals.
This is glorious music from end to end and heralds something fresh and new on the so called “Latin Jazz” horizon.
Track Listing: 1. 39:9; 2. Picaro; 3. Recordando; 4. Trueno; 5. Flora; 6. Así Fue; 7. Aral; 8. Inesperado.
Personnel: Andrés Ortíz V: piano; Antonio Cervellino: contrabass; Brian Quinn: drums; Rino Rossi: contrabass (5).
Related links: Andrés Ortíz Trio on the web: www.andresortiztrio.com
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.
By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.
The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.
Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.
From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.
Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.
It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.
Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz
Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring – Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums 
Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25
YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)
YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues
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