Negroni’s Trio: Esperanzas/Hopes
It is surely a critic’s joy to discover a major talent relatively obfuscated in the plethora of recordings, yet appearing on a major label. The Negroni’s Trio is just that kind of small ensemble that stretches the very concept of what is vivacious and inventive to give cause for much celebration in the world of music. Comprising father and son José and Nomar Negroni on piano and drums respectively together with Josh Allen on bass, the trio is a well-oiled machine that is given to music with ferocious kinetic energy and melodic, harmonic and rhythmic surprise.
Once again Negroni’s Trio combines to make effervescent – and thoughtful – music with fingers, head and heart. Such seeming hyperbole is not in the least bit misleading. Heard here on Esperanzas Negroni’s Trio creates Afro-Caribbean music – with their featured guests – that is enthrallingly fresh and unfamiliar. Such is the invention of the original compositions by José Negroni and the arrangements of standard items – in particular “How High the Moon” and Sidney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur” with the rapidly changing arcs of their rhythmic cycles throughout [especially with the string quartet and mallet percussion in attendance]. Clare Fischer’s “Morning/Una Mañana” features some of the most breathtaking, sustained inventions on the whole album.
To my mind, though, the pinnacle [or at least one of them] of the album surely must be “Encadenados” with the neurasthenic poetry of María Toledo’s vocals. This is a flamenco voice with the darkest, most heart-rending duende – the kind that Federico García Lorca favoured above all things. The inimitable colouration and nuance, together with Miss Toledo’s rubato which is of caressing warmth and suppleness that is utterly and sensuously beguiling, guaranteed to absolutely tear out the heart like the best flamenco is meant to. Featured soloists also include such stellar musicians as Ed Calle, Ismael Vergara and Luis “Perico” Ortiz, each raising the temperature of the music when called upon to play.
José Negroni’s pianism is elegantly polished. He can pin back your ears with the heroic strength and propulsion of his phrasing and rhythmic energy. On slower repertoire he will have you as lost in reverie as he himself turns out to be. Nomar Negroni and Josh Allen form a powerful rhythmic duo and this keeps the music razor-sharp and focused. The latter’s masterful performance con arco adds enormous gravitas to the recording’s finale where strings make for sumptuous sculpting of “Petite Fleur”. Together this trio gives us repertoire of irresistible charm throughout making for an immensely enjoyable virtuoso frolic.
Track list – 1: Que Felicidad; 2: Esperanzas; 3: Encadenados; 4: How High the Moon; 5: Don’t Go Anywhere; 6: Morning/Una Mañana; 7: Osvaldo; 8: Petite Fleur; 9: Mis Recuerdos
Personnel – José Negroni: piano; Josh Allen: bass; Nomar Negroni: drums; Featuring – Ismael Vergara: clarinet ; María Toledo: vocals ; Dr Ed Calle: saxophone ; Luis “Perico” Ortiz: flugelhorn ; David Fernández: 1st violin [3, 8, 9]; Ebert Ceballo: 2nd violin [3, 8, 9]; Francesa Rossi: cello [3, 8, 9]; María Salas: cello [3, 8, 9]; Edgar Omar: voices [6, 8]; Coast Music 
Released – 2021
Label – Sony Music Latin [1 94399 27772]
Runtime – 38:24