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Josean Jacobo: Herencia Criolla

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Dominican Pianist Josean Jacobo

Josean Jacobo has a pianistic voice that cries out to be heard as the young composer, arranger and performing pianist unleashes his thunderous left hand melodies from behind the keyboard. However, his music thrives not only on the rhythmic pulse of Afro-Caribbean and Crèole music peculiar to the Dominican islands, but also echoes with its stories.

These he relocates to the landscape of music, propelling his right hand up and down his concert grand, his fingers sparkle as they tap out intricate melodies as the stories call to mind the enduring Afro-Caribbean heritage that sends furious ripples across the ocean of music all the way from the Americas to Mother Africa and back.

Josean Jacobo: Herencia Criolla
Album cover – Josean Jacobo: Herencia Criolla

Mr Jacobo’s performance on Herencia Criolla is breathtaking. The magnificence of this music is enhanced not the least because it comes with the rumbling contrabass of Daroll Méndez and the rolling thunder of Otoniel Nicolás and his drums, who form the core of this trio, as well as with guests Miguel Zenón on alto saxophone, Ramón Vásquez [on contrabass on “Bachata Rosa”], percussionist Magic Mejía [on “Batey”] and Félix García on tambora.

Not everyone can tell these musical tales in the deeply philosophical style of the atabales and bachatas with the salves communicated by the pianist and – on especially “Dos Locos” by the very vocal alto saxophone of Miguel Zenón, and by Ramón Vásquez, an excellent contrabass player. Of course, the time-honored forms collide magnificently on “Herencia Criolla”.

The performances and timbral ornamentation is superbly enunciated by the pianist throughout this repertoire. His monologues – during brief soli – and his dialogues with the cohort of musicians are shaped by the extrovert nature of the music and the frame of mind of the pianist. There’s fire in virtually every phrase as Mr Jacobo digs into the keyboard and makes it breathe with living colour, as if to underline the tonal immersion in the mysteries and wonders that the music holds.

The pianist’s sound is always penetrating and focused, his view of dynamics on the forceful side and his command of line firm, with just enough elasticity to give phrases the lift or space they need to take an organic place in the structural picture. Along the way he plays various dance movements tweaking them around with brushes of ornamentation. Technically formidable and intensely communicative, the performances grab you by the ears and refuse to let go.

Mention of the engineering recordists, mixing and mastering technicians is de rigueur as this album lives and breathes in the warmth of a fine recording.


Track list – 1: Herencia Criollo; 2: San Miguel; 3: Dolores; 4: Dos Locos; 5: Bachata Rosa; 6: Caña Brava; 7: Batey; 8: Quisqueya

Personnel – Josean Jacobo: piano; Daroll Méndez: contrabass; Otoniel Nicolás: drums. Guests – Miguel Zenón: alto saxophone [3]; Ramón Vásquez: contrabass [5]; Magic Mejía: percussion [7]; Félix García: tambora [7, 8]; Hilton Rodriguez: piano technician; JV Olivier: recording engineer; Armando González: mixing; Alberto Santamaría: mastering

Released – 2022
Label – Independent
Runtime – 45:55

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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