The gloriously dallying collective improvisation Earth Rebirth – as indeed does the rest of the repertoire on this eponymously entitled album – gloriously describes the musicianship of flutist Colette Michaan as artistry of the first order. For the music here is swathed in great flights of imagination, the work of one musician after the next following her lead in braving the twists and turns of challenges proposed by each of six beautifully executed charts.
With the mouthpiece of a proverbial magic flute affixed upon her lips Ms Michaan makes music from gentle wisps of air thus to give us a masterclass using the instrument’s delicate timbres. As she dips invisible brushes into a palette of wondrous colours, the flutist brings to life a vivid musical canvas.
With quiet authority Ms Michaan leads her ensemble through the labyrinthine textures of the album’s palimpsest, Earth Rebirth, to the simple and fluttering beauty of Throw it Away by the incomparable Abbey Lincoln. This she does via four glorious songs including the more complex musical language of Reincarnation of a Lovebird – “sung, not spoken” – from the pen of Charles Mingus, a song that is being added to a growing roster of standards from that titan of 20th century music.
The flutist – an avowed admirer of the incomparable Eric Dolphy – is utterly convincing in her gleaming gem of an album uncommonly high standard of musicianship. Ms Michaan displays a grasp of melodic and harmonic invention that is almost supernatural.
The flutist can also expertly – and intelligently – pack changes in tempi into relatively short musical sequences, always making for dramatic impact. This is, of course, evocative of the great Mr Mingus, whose extraordinary ballad becomes a surprising metaphor for the idiomatic theme of the album itself. That work [Reincarnation of a Lovebird] is presented here by the ensemble in all the dazzling chiaroscuro of [its] inner voices.
The more introspective finale of the Latin-inflected album is adorned by superb Latin-inflected works by Orlando “Maraca” Valle [Campiña], the legendary Cheo Feliciano [El Ratón] and Jose Manuel Ortega Heredia [Ni Contigo ni sin Tí].
All of this presents us with classic music through and through and interpreted with eloquence and controlled vivacity by an ensemble comprising pianist Leo Genovese, bassist John Benitez, percussionists Luisito Quintero and Yusnier Sánchez Bustamante, and vocalist Mireya Ramos, each perfectly attuned [it begs mentioning again] to the magic flute of Colette Michaan.
YouTube Playlist – Colette Michaan: Earth Rebirth
Music – 1: Earth Rebirth; 2: Campiña; 3: El Ratón; 4: Ni Contigo ni sin Tí; 5: Reincarnation of a Lovebird; 6: Throw it Away.
Musicians – Colette Michaan: flute and bamboo flute; Leo Genovese: piano and keyboards; John Benitez: contrabass; Luisito Quintero: timbales; Yusnier Sánchez Bustamante: congas and cajón; Mireya Ramos: vocals [2, 3].
Released – 2023
Label – Creatrix Music [CM05]
Runtime – 38:15
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