It is hard to go back and dig deep once something is put in the past and locked down. Miles Davis showed this when he was asked ever so often to perform music that he had made with Gil Evans in the 50’s and he only did so towards the end of his life when Quincy Jones and Claude Nobs seem to have prevailed upon him to do a complete program of that music at Montreux in 1991. So Luis Perdomo can be forgiven for forsaking this kind of recording for several years until Criss Cross producer seems to have prevailed upon him to reach deep into his past. But as he finally gave in and decided to pay homage to his early influences the music has literally exploded as it collided on this incredibly beautiful album The ‘Infancia’ Project. Ever since he graced the New York scene towards the end of the 90’s Mr. Perdomo has been followed closely by the cognoscenti as his music began to unwind, showing that he had an unbridled virtuosity, a finely tuned expression and a deep and discerning sense of history. Mr. Perdomo seems to be made of music and has sprung from musical wells fed by the gently shuffling waters of Latin American music as much as it is by the spirited bubbling of the jazz idiom both streams originating from the classical, romantic and impressionistic wellsprings of Europe.
The fusion of these influences have long since waned and the unique voice of the pianist has fully emerged and this is probably why Mr. Perdomo chose to make such magnificently iconic recordings as Focus Point (RKM Music, 2005), Awareness (RKM Music, 2006), Pathways (Criss Cross Jazz, 2008) and, Universal Mind (RKM Music, 2012). But it is this music on The ‘Infancia’ Project that makes for unique and magnificent listening as it reveals a part of Mr. Perdomo that is not often seen or heard in his music: His ability to tell a story as if it were playing out like a series of moving pictures. It probably happens when dwelling on the past that an artist can experience moving images of places and incidents associated with past experiences, especially those deeply etched in the heart of being. Mr. Perdomo relates these as if he were making a painting that is continuously filled with the water colours of life and are being unveiled on parchment that remains constantly warm and wet as more colours are applied only to drip and fill the nooks and crannies of the paper upon which it is applied.
As his music on this record develops from the music of Miles Davis (“Solar”) to Bud Powell (”Un Poco Loco”) to Mr. Perdomo’s own ponderous and multilayered harmonics on “Berimvela” and the portrait of the “Meggido Girl” his music becomes a more complex and wonderful melange of densely textured and harmonically intricate music. The suggestive water colours turn into the more viscous depictions of mood, solace and emotions as deep as indigo blues. The Afro-centric rhythms become more complex; the leaps off elevated planes into darker, more ominous territory become more frequent as Mr. Perdomo digs deep into his soul for that augmented series of notes that turn brightly coloured visions of music into more hypnotic and more substantial music.
Assisting Mr. Perdomo on this eventful musical journey would be key to re-imagining his own past and his thrusting forward into the future. So he would have to choose his shipmates with a great deal of discernment and erudition. And the pianist has certainly chosen well. Mark Shim on tenor saxophone adds a gravitas of tone and manner that shapes the music with gilded edges and a sense of maturity; drummer Ignacio Berroa and the brilliant percussionist Mauricio Herrera add the wondrous polyrhythms of Afrocentric music as it is buffeted by the gilded Europeanism of the tenor horn and the ingenious bassist Andy González, while providing a rock-steady rhythmic anchor, also adds tremendous harmonic texture to the complex melodies that Mr. Perdomo has written. Mr. González also plays with such a delightful sense of melodic ingenuity that he seems to play a critical role in shaping and re-shaping the melodic content of the music as if he were the sole composer himself. Still it is the mighty pianism of Luis Perdomo who has made this project a resounding success. Whether he is playing with a lighter touch on the Fender Rhodes or controlling the grand keyboard of the piano with fascinating degrees of expression and emotion, Mr. Perdomo has given notice to become a musical architect of the highest order.
Tracks: The Other Left; Berimvela; Solar; Happy House; Comedia; Un Poco Loco; Meggido Girl; Mind And Time; Major General.
Personnel: Luis Perdomo: piano, Fender Rhodes; Mark Shim: tenor saxophone; Andy González: bass; Ignacio Berroa: drums; Mauricio Herrera: percussion
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
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.
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.
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 
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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