The one thing you can be assured when you listen to music – new or re-interpreted – by Doug Beavers, is that it’s going to be superbly conceived. Arrangements are going to be well-thought out, almost always luminous and musically aerodynamic. In other words, it is sure to be music that is first rate, befitting the celebrated [Grammy Award winning status] of Mr Beavers. But listening to the music of this clearly ambitious album, Luna, one is almost forced to consider Mr Beavers as more than just a virtuoso trombonist and celebrated bandleader. For here [in the repertoire of Luna] is evidence that he is already a great composer, arranger, and bandleader.
That is a lot of hyperbole, but the music on this album supports this thesis in so many ways. The most compelling evidence in support of that is the manner in which he pays tribute to tradition; not the kind of usual musical lip-service with slick melodic, harmonic and rhythmic hooks and gestures, but by breaking out of the prison of tradition, throwing out [melodic, harmonic and rhythmic] hooks what has become tired from overuse, and building from what is left over. The music of Luna has evidence of all of that – not only in the 6-movement-long Luna Suite, but also in the five other miniatures that follow.
With two little-big ensembles [on each of the sets] in tow, Mr Beavers leads these spirited, occasionally restless performances – that thrillingly capture the adrenaline rush of a live concert. This new studio recording, exquisitely produced, preserves the incisive urgency of the compositions – both the extended suite and the other songs – as each musician provide idiomatic readings of the trombonist-composer’s breathtaking music with poise and balance.
Throughout the sections of Luna Suite, a companion piece to his earlier album [in praise of the brother sun, that is,] Sol, we are privy to silvery tone textures and monochromatic colours which, are evocative of the effect of the moon and its tides [on humanity, and in an oblique way – I would even hazard a guess – also an evocative enharmonic attempt to pierce, les mystères des femmes]. Why, after all, name the suite after the moon? At any rate the music of this suite favours flowing tempi, yet there is an even greater sense of spontaneity and elasticity, as the introduction suggests.
There’s – in orchestral markings/terms little sense of vivace at all. Rather one becomes aware of a growing ebullience [as the music unfolds]. It’s signalled subtly at the beginning, as liquid streams of quavers gather into a gentle cascade and reaches fruition only as the work gathers conceptual momentum in Multicolores [for instance] as the work is propelled towards its recapitulation/and coda: the song Luna. Throughout the performance of this suite the musicians – soloists and ensemble – take obvious pleasure in detail without losing sight of the larger picture.
The rest of the repertoire is, by no means of lesser import than this longer work. The powerful horn section – with a super-trombone section embedded within and consisting of the mighty Conrad Herwig and a rumbling Max Seigel [bass trombone and tuba] – is complemented by Eric C. Davis [French horns] and Dave Rosenberg [clarinets and bass clarinets]. Their ravishing dolcissimo playing may be heard on another elegiac piece, entitled Flor de lis. Mr Beavers is at his best on this piece where he reduces his sound to a confessional whisper – every phrase is intensely, memorably expressive. It is, after all a musical love story and it is exquisitely written and performed.
The disc also features the gifted bassist Luques Curtis, pianist Gabriel Chakarji together with celebrated names like saxophonist Iván Renta, guitarist Paul Bollenbeck and drummers and percussionists Camilo Molina and Luisito Quintero [among many others]. And it ends with the exhilarating addendum, Sands of Time, a fitting, eschatological meditation with which to end Luna, an album [which taken together with its predecessor, Sol] which music aptly meditates, frets, ripples and tumbles with existentialism befitting a composer who plumbs the depth of his being to express himself whole-heartedly while also honouring the continuum of music.
YouTube Playlist – Doug Beavers: Luna
Music – Luna Suite [1 – 6] – 1: Luna [Intro]; 2: Tidal; 3: Reflejo del Sol; 4: Las Piedras; 5: Multicolores; 6: Luna.
Music – [7 – 11] – 7: Sea; 8: Interlude; 9: Flor de Lis; 10: Intro to Sands of Time; 11: Sands of Time.
Musicians – Luna Suite [1 – 6] Doug Beavers: trombone; Jeremy Bosch: flute and vocal ; Iván Renta: tenor and soprano saxophones; Manuel “Maneco” Ruiz: trumpet and flugelhorn; Max Seigel: bass trombone; Gabriel Chakarji: piano, and Fender Rhodes ; Jerry Madera: bass; Luisito Quintero: congas, timbales and percussion; Camilo Molina: drums and bongos; with – Carlos Cascante: lead vocal ; Anthony Almonte: coros . Musicians – [7 – 11] Doug Beavers: trombone; Conrad Herwig: trombone ; Francisco Torres: trombone ; Max Seigel: bass trombone [9, 10] and tuba ; Eric C. Davis: French horn ; Dave Riekenburg: clarinets and bass clarinets ; Joe Locke: vibraphone; Paul Bollenback: guitars; Gabriel Chakarji: piano and Fender Rhodes; Luques Curtis: contrabass; Robby Ameen: drums; Luisito Quintero: congas, timbales and percussion: George Delgado: itótele, and shekere [4, 11]; Camilo Molina: okónkolo and iyá ; Jeremy Bosch: vocal ; Ada Dyer: vocal .
Released – 2023
Label – Circle 9 Records [C90005)
Runtime – 54:22
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