The distinctive voice of Magos Herrera – a opalescent mezzo – glows like a beam of soft light through the monumental complexity of this bittersweet repertoire on her album Aire. Miss Herrera, also acting as artistic director of this music, which is captured in the warmth of an excellent recording where her luminous vocalastics are buffeted by the sounds of winds, reeds and strings, piano, bass and percussion which – in turn – add quite an acoustic bloom to a voice that already has a lot of dramatic overtones. The result is music that is evocative of the kind of luminescence swirling in bittersweet, yet mystical ecstasy unique to the piety of Herrera’s renditions of these songs.
Throughout, Miss Herrera navigates these songful ariettas with a wispy legato and just enough devotion to these words so as to float their emotions, which then hover like fleecy clouds in the air of the room. Classic songs such as Violeta Parra’s Gracias a la Vida and the aching sadness of Ariel Ramirez and Félix Luna’s bitter Alfonsina y el mar are impressively delivered with crepuscular moods and tone colours, and through almost orchestral textures, while always maintaining impressive clarity through the dense contrapuntal writing.
The carefully-contrasted moods of the Brasilian fare – Guinga and Paulo César Pinhero’s Passarinhadeira, Danilo Moraes and Paulo César de Carvalho’s Obra Filhia, and Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell’s Samba em Preludio are altogether splendidly performed. Here Miss Herrera turns on quite another kind of charm provoked, no doubt, by the vivaciousness and nerve of Brasilian harmonic and rhythmic language. Those songs end up offering aural respite amid the dusky sadness of the Spanish classics that break up the repertoire and divide Miss Herrera’s own originals.
Miss Herrera’s voice is sublimely suited to the darker and burnished hues of her own music. Her savvy singing is radiant from one song to the next. The dramatic weight of the narratives is counterbalanced with lyrical meditation. The notes of the opening number, Aire, float off the staved paper and pirouette seductively, forming misty whorls in the dense atmosphere in the listening room. Likewise, also with Miss Herrera’s other songs as well, until we come to the apogee at the album’s end – the pulsating music of Healer, with its rhythms driven and resolute, infused by clever orchestrations that crank up the momentum of this brilliant piece.
“…crece en mi alma un árbol, de estrellas / verdes como la hiedra,” sings Miss Herrera, “ay y en mi pecho un lucero que canta / con notas de esperanza / y una luna, lunera, te espera. Ay vuela curandera,” she croons as she brings the music of this fascinating album to a close brightened under a sky, lit by the shimmering silver of a hopeful moon.
YouTube Playlist – Magos Herrera: Aire
Music – 1: Aire; 2: Gracias a la Vida; 3: The Calling; 4: Choro de Lua [for Elena]; 5: Alfonsina y el mar; 6: Passarinhadeira; 7: Obra Filhia; 8: Remanso; 9: Papalote Intro; 10: Papalote [For Tomás]; 11: Samba em Preludio; 12: Healer [Dedicated to Mexican Shaman Maria Sabina].
Musicians – Magos Herrera: vocals; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet and flugelhorn [2, 8]; Dori Caymmi: voice ; Vinicius Gomes: acoustic guitar and backing vocals ; Sam Minaie: bass; Alex Kautz: drums and percussion [2, 7, 8, 12], and backing vocals ; Gonzalo Grau: chekeré [1[, cajón, palmas and jaleos , and djembe and cajón  [2, 7, 8, 12], and backing vocals . The Knights – violins: Colin Jacobsen, Christina Courtin, Abi Fayette, Alex Fortes , Kristi Helberg, Nanae Iwata, Yaira Matyakubova ; violas: Mario Gotoh , Celia Hatton; celli: Gabriel Cabezas, Jia Kim ; bass: Grey Fulmer; flute: Alex Sopp; oboe: Michelle Farah; clarinet: Agnes Marchione; bassoon: Edward Burns; trumpet: Micah Killiom; trombone: Dave Nelson; harp: Megan Conley; piano: Blair McMillen; arrangers: Diego Schissi [2, 4, 5, 7 – 9]; Gonzalo Grau [1, 3, 12]; Jacques Morelenbaum .
Released – 2023
Label – Sunnyside Records [SSC 1702]
Runtime – 53:49
Avishai Cohen & Abraham Rodríguez Jr: Iroko
In Conversation with Ángel “Papote” Alvarado: Desde Ponce a Nueva York
Gerry López: No Way Back
Pianist, Composer Olivia Pérez-Collellmir Releases Debut Album: “Olivia”
Jorge Luis Pacheco: The Lockdown Album
De Ponce A Nueva York: Ángel “Papote” Alvarado y el Grupo Esencia
Vistel Brothers: Fiesta en el Batey
Christmas Classic “Asalto Navideño Vol. II” Gets New Vinyl Reissue
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band: Vox Humana
Arturo O’Farrill, Omar Sosa and Etienne Charles Bring Latin Jazz to the DC JazzFest
Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal Present “They Shot the Piano Player” at TIFF 2023
The Latin Side of Jazz · Episode 33
Juan García-Herreros – The Snow Owl: Normas
Raphael Cruz Reaffirms His Commitment To Latin Jazz!
Edy Martínez, the Music Architect Behind the Piano
Rubén Blades con Roberto Delgado & Orquesta · Son de Panamá
Celebrating Emiliano Salvador and his Musical Legacy
Cubano Be, Cubano Bop: A Memorable Night in Toronto with Poncho Sánchez
A Conversation with Percussionist, Bandleader Poncho Sanchez
The Odyssey of Anat Cohen
Paquito D’Rivera & Quinteto Cimarrón: Aires Tropicales
Have You Seen My Nana? The Enduring Genius of Moacir Santos
Enrique Rodríguez: Enriquito – Me Quito El Sombrero
Roberto López Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra: Azul
Most Read in 2023
Featured Albums7 months ago
Aymée Nuviola feat. Kemuel Roig: Havana Nocturne
News9 months ago
Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band to release new recording: “Vox Humana”
Album Reviews9 months ago
Gia Fu Presents: Ángel Meléndez X Big Band Máquina
Album Reviews9 months ago
Ella & The Bossa Beat: In the Moment