The last two recordings by Greg Diamond – Calera: Solo Sessions  and, now the trio recording, Beata – have showed us in no uncertain terms just how ennobled the guitar is in the right hands. Taken together the recordings show Mr Diamond to be at the height of his musical powers. The former recording is dedicated to his father, ‘a gifted pianist and opera singer’ and the latter album, Beata is dedicated to – and named after – his mother who is apart from being the proverbial matriarch of the family, also infused in the guitarist a great love for his Colombian cultural heritage. Clearly this ‘heritage’ has left its indelible – and eloquent – mark on the idiomatic musical language of this remarkable guitarist.
The album under review, which is Beata, begins with the song of the same name and you are immediately struck by the emotional power of this project for right out of the gate you hear how lovingly Mr Diamond caresses the music, giving it a raptness that rivals the best guitarists of Mr Diamond’s generation. But there is also a playfulness too, as witness, the third track down the record, a song entitled Tiniebla. Of course, we are soon given a masterclass with Mr Diamond’s arrangement of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, which has plenty of energy and exuberance while offering in its conception something slightly more laid back than the honed leonine energy of ‘Trane’s blistering original.
Mr Diamond has always shown himself to be much more than a virtuoso instrumentalist; his depth of knowledge and love for the traditional invariably emerges in his choice of repertory music. On the Solo recording he mixes originals with gorgeous renditions of standards such as Scarborough Fair and Shenandoah, and on Beata he repeats this with a magnificently profound version of El Condor Pasa. This version of that timeless song distilled down to a trio version after its orchestral musical piece from the zarzuela El Cóndor Pasa by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles, written in 1913. Mr Diamond version – with bassist Edward Pérez and drummer Ludwig Afonso – is evocative of the febrile quality of the traditional, Andean music as the music’s mystical architecture is married to a simplicity of melodic and harmonic utterance.
The remainder of the disc is devoted to originals masterfully crafted in a form well-suited to Mr Diamond’s brand of eloquent and superb musicianship. Whether in the quiet solemnity of the song Rastros or tolling the depths of emotion in the exquisite elegiac utterances of Song for Jerry Mr Diamond is nothing if not masterful throughout. Meanwhile with both Mr Pérez and Mr Afonso so completely attuned to the guitarist’s vision and artistry, Beata qualifies from beginning to end as a certifiable masterpiece of a recording which raises the bar for both Mr Diamond himself and his entire tribe of contemporaries who will, no doubt, be awed by the elegance of this recording.
YouTube Video – Greg Diamond Trio: Beata
Music – 1: Beata; 2: Salas; 3: Tiniebla; 4: Giant Steps; 5: El Condor Pasa; 6: Caprichosa; 7: Rastos; 8: Ensimismado; 9: Cumbita; 10: Song for Jerry.
Musicians – Greg Diamond: guitar; Edward Pérez: bass; Ludwig Afonso: drums.
Released – 2023
Label – Chasm Records [CR 9035]
Runtime – 54:31
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