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Amanda Martinez: Mañana

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Amanda Martinez - Mañana

Amanda Martinez has been concentrating on her own music for some time since she made way for Laura Fernandez to take her Saturday afternoon spot on Toronto’s Jazz FM 91. And she has been doing a rather good job of it. Her album Mañana is her third since she went solo in 2006. Ms. Martinez has made dramatic progress since that year. She has exhibited supreme control over her voice which is a sensuous, husky contralto. And this she commands to be at her bidding as she swoops and sometimes soars like the proverbial bird on the wing of a welcome thermal. On Mañana Ms. Martinez puts her voice through its paces as she moves from deeply emotional charts that suggest she could “bleed” very easily. This is not to suggest any brittleness of sentiment, either personally or professionally, but rather that she comes at the listener from a well-spring of emotion. And when this happens, Ms. Martinez is ready to capture it all in what she writes and what she sings. She writes with great distinction, paying attention to minute shifts in tone and manner. She sings with attention to phrasing and nuanced expression; both of which she is very good at. Being of Latin extract, her enunciation of the language is impeccable and being Canadian, she sounds excellent as she sings in English and French as well.

Ms. Martinez has done better than she has ever done before. She has brought in the Grammy-winning producer Javier Limón on board to shape the sound design of this album. This is a master stroke and while it makes a departure, somewhat, from earlier work, which was informed by a Latin Jazz metaphor as well as—at times—an Afro Caribbean metaphor. There is a tendency here for the music to have a more Spanish flavour. This is dramatic and enriches the music; the horn of Alexander Brown adding the fiery, bronzed zest that is found in the music of Granada. And because of that the Mediterranean feel of the album simmers beneath the surface. “Mañana” is one of the charts that brings out this flavour in the grand manner. “Tenemos De Todo” is another one of those charts on which Mr. Limón puts his personal touch and the song is exquisite—handclaps and all. Ms. Martinez does return to Afro-Cuban fare even if it is in the English: “Let’s Dance” features some swaggering music especially in the outro sequence, where Pablosky Rosales lets loose on the tres as well as in his improvised vocals. Another superb touch by Javier Limón is the colour and timbre that he has added by employing dramatic voicings in songs such as “Días Invisibles”.

Just as important to the project is the renowned Canadian guitarist, Kevin Laliberté, whose virtuosity is absolutely sublime. In fact there are moments when Mr. Laliberté reaches such highs that his tricky guitar phrases are reminiscent of some of the great Flamenco virtuosos. Although Mr. Laliberté has always sounded wonderful every time he plays, he is especially outstanding on Ms. Martinez’s project. In the end, however, it is all of the above, but especially Amanda Martinez’s outstanding compositions and voice that carry the album to another level.

Track List: Va Y Viene; Frozen; Esperanza Viva; Nuevos Caminos; No Hay Distancia; Mañana; Let’s Dance; Tenemos De Todo; Días Invisibles; Ahora Si Te Canto; Le Chemin; Que Bonita Es Esta Vida.

Personnel: Amanda Martinez: vocals; Drew Bristow: bass; Kevin Laliberté: guitar; Pablosky Rosales: tres, vocals; Osvaldo Rodriguez: violin, vocals; Alexander Brown: trumpet, vocals; Rosendo “Chendy” Leon: percussion, vocals; Javier Limón: vocals (2, 8), solo guitar (10); Carlos Augusto Cardozo Filho: cavaquinho (2).

Released – 2013
Label – Self-Produced
Runtime – 50:04

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.

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Featured Albums

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

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.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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.

Deo gratis…

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 [9]

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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