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Edsel Gómez: Road to Udaipur



Edsel Gómez

Nothing should surprise you about music by Edsel Gómez, except that the music is always a surprise. His music jumps at you in a way that harks back to the music of Charles Mingus. It is made up of seemingly disparate changes which are always connected. It thrives on abrupt changes in tempo so that you never know what’s coming round the turnpike. There is a lot of Thelonious Monk in him. His lines are slanted and brilliantly angular; almost full of delightful whimsy. Chords poke you in the eye. Melodies wrap around you and wriggle at your ribs. So full of such physical delights are his harmonies and rhythms that he is almost too elusive to define. And because the pianist is impossible to box in he is also impossible to keep track of. He plays with such impetuosity that you want to corral him but then you realise that is a futile endeavour because it is such a delight to let him soar free of the constraints that seem to bother so many rather good pianists that they get bogged down and soon become bereft of ideas.

Road to Udaipur - Edsel GómezEdsel Gómez’s Road to Udaipur is a sumptuously laid out album. Not only is the package bursting with myriad colours, but so is the music. Mr. Gómez’s palette is broad and bottomless. Colours seem to spring from nowhere and before you know it you are swathed in a diaphanous musical tapestry that is both fantastic and palpably beautiful. Titles are odd. (Where on earth does “Ninibilo Majulolo and the Bridge” come from? A fantastic land beyond “Udaipur” perhaps). But don’t spend too much time agonizing over this. Rather give yourself over to the charms of the music. The performances here have a swagger and brio and in, for example, the very first track – “Tertulia Samba”, an endlessly beguiling nuance, colour and cantabile. At times Edsel Gómez’s fist-rolling frenzy reminds me of Don Pullen’s, but here he displays an even greater wealth of poetry and inflection, while maintaining an almost mythic sense of impulse and continuity. In “Spain-ished Cubes” he is heaven-storming at the climax of the first half of the piece and white-hot towards the end where everything is driven to its exultant limit.

True, Edsel Gómez gives in to the splashy and the cavalier, but that comes from worshiping at the altar of bebop. Listen to “Search and Build” written on the changes for Charlie Parker’s “Donna-Lee” and you will hear what I am talking about. But even here his technique remains monumental and all-embracing. This is true of the piece in question, played with brilliant fury and delicate tracery as well. Just when you expect Mr. Gómez to let up, he follows that song with another wonder of scintillation: “Ninibilo Majulolo and the Bridge” that maddeningly bizarre titled piece where the rhythms of bebop and maracatú collide. There are few living pianists who could play with such abandon and personal commitment. By now you become aware of the different colourings of the registers, from the burnished resonance of his bass (left-hand) lines and the sweetly tinkling upper registers that belong to his right hand, you wonder if there is any more dazzle that can be infused into his pianism. Then you become aware of the halo around the sound of this instrument that leaves you breathless. Engineering by Chris Gilroy, Giba Favery, Helio Kazuo Ishitani and Tom Lazarus is top-drawer matching Edsel Gómez’s superb musicianship.

Track List: Tertulia Samba; Udaipur; Homesick Nostalgia; Search and Build; Ninibilo Majulolo and the Bridge; Four Seasons and a Five; Spain-ished Cubes ( for Chick Corea); On Second Thoughts; Charles Chaplin; Smile On; Bahia; Brothers; The Chant.

Personnel: Edsel Gómez: piano, clave, timbales, hand drill, stone filled bucket and bells; Bruce Cox: drums; Fabio Tagliaferri: viola; Roberto Pitre Vázquez: flute, piccolo and vocals; Walmir Gil: trumpet and flugelhorn; Nahor Gomes: trumpet and flugelhorn; Felix Gibbons: congas and speech; Edu Martins: acoustic bass; Alex “Apolo” Ayala: acoustic bass; Sizâo Machado: electric bass; Arismar do Espirito Santo: electric bass; Roberta Valente: pandeiro and triangle; Chacalzinho: pandeiro, berimbau, udu and triangle; Tuto Ferraz: drums; Douglas Alonso: drums; Freddie Bryant: acoustic guitar; Cássio Fereira: alto saxophone; Felipe Lamoglia: tenor saxophone; Roberto Araújo: oboe.

Label: Zoho Music
Release date: April 2015
Buy music on: amazon

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About Edsel Gómez

2007 Grammy award nominee Edsel Gómez is today one of the premier Latin Jazz pianists in the world. Born in Puerto Rico in 1962, he began piano studies at age five. He grew up in a musical environment that allowed him to master Afro-Caribbean rhythms in depth, working since childhood with an incredible array of Latin music idols such as Marvin Santiago, Celia Cruz, Carlos “Patato” Valdés, Santitos Colón, Cheo Feliciano, Roberto Roena, Willie Colon, Ismael Rivera Jr., Luis “Perico” Ortiz, Olga Guillot, Lola Flores, Marco Antonio Muñíz, among many others… Read more…

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



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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