What happens when you have a number of sublimely talented musicians rubbing shoulders together on a disc? If the programme is satisfying chances are the disc can be rather good. To make that good record great you must have great arrangements that don’t simply exploit the textures and timbres of reeds, brass and woodwinds, but redefine the sound of these instruments. And there is also this: the arrangements ought to be written around individual musicians whose work is rooted in their local musical cultures, absorbed to form highly personal styles. While this is not always the case on X-Treme Latin Jazz, you simply cannot expect anything less from pianists Hilario Durán, David Virelles, drummer Mark Kelso, bassist Paco Luviano, percussionist Luis Orbegoso, and the flutist Bill McBirnie and saxophonist Phil Dwyer without getting a very special sound. Not that the other musicians on this date do not make wonderful contributions as well, but the ingenuity of those musicians make all the difference on this record.
Of course, Bobby Rice is no slouch either; not with the trumpet and not as a writer as well. His tone is rich and his sound sears the auditory faculties, and together with his band and the stellar cast rhythm section Mr. Rice has created a near perfect record. Clearly the bandleader has made a great effort to enter the expressive world of the compositions. This is something shared by the rest of the band as well. Their performances show not only a high level of technical assurance but an intuitive reading of the material as well. A wealth of tone colours emerge within the restrained, delicate ambience of the pieces and this rises in intensity until the music reaches a passionate outburst near the end of each piece which is highly desirable. The horns are particularly brazen. In any big band these musicians create the shape and put a halo of sound around the performances of the rest of the band. On this album, Hilario Durán and David Virelles also do just this. Perhaps the devastating genius of these two musicians; their frontal attack and tumbao—charts such as “Yesterdays” and “This Masquerade” come to mind—makes for the character of the pieces and their performances thereof.
Mr. Durán, Mr. Virelles and Mark Kelso join forces with Luis Orbegoso as well to emphasise the bustling qualities of the programme. Mention must also be made of Bobby Rice. The trumpeter has a gift for big band writing, which is why this record is among the standout productions by a big band. Mr. Rice is also generous in the manner in which he distributes the largesse of his writing, making sure that all of the talent on this record has a say in the proceedings. And because the trumpeter and bandleader has chosen his subjects well the overall standard of the record has been raised considerably. The performances of the two Cuban-born pianists cannot be rated highly enough though. Their playing is always thoughtful and imaginative and casts an individual light on this complex and absorbing body of work.
Track List: Yesterdays; Canadian Chá-Chá-Chá; Winter Blooms; Chá-Chá for Christina; Camilo’s Way; Delphine; This Masquerade; Transition; Fais Do-Do.
Personnel: Bobby Rice: trumpet; Sundar Viswanathan: saxophone; Coleen Allen: saxophone, flute (5, 9); Jeff King: saxophone; Perry White: saxophone; Pol Cousseé: saxophone; Alex Dean: saxophone, clarinet (6); Vern Dorge: flute (6); Phil Dwyer: saxophone (4, 8); Al Kay: trombone; Kelsley Grant: trombone; Chris Butcher: trombone; Peter Hysen: trombone; Gord Myers: trombone; Nick LaRiviere: trombone (9); Jason Logue: trumpet; Sandy Barter: trumpet; Kevin Turcotte: trumpet; Jon Challoner: trumpet; Brian O’Kane: trumpet; Hilario Durán: piano; David Virelles: piano; Jeremy Ledbetter: piano ( 3); Paco Luviano: bass; Ted Quinlan: guitar; Mark Kelso: drums, timbales; Luis Orbegoso: congas, bongos, bells, guïro, Brasilian percussion; tambourine.
Label: Addo Records | Release date: December 2014
About Bobby Rice
Bobby Rice (AKA Bob Rice) is a composer/arranger/trumpeter who is comfortable in many musical styles. He is currently a faculty member at Humber College in Toronto, Canada, where he has taught numerous coursed including: Contemporary Theory/Improvisation, Jazz Arranging, Oral Training, Jazz History, and Popular Music History. His first album, Bobby Rice & Sandunga (2004), established him as a notable composer/arranger/trumpeter of Latin jazz music. Read more…
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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