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Pablo Ablanedo: Chistreza

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Pablo Ablanedo - Photo by Anna Yatskevich

The most remarkable aspect of the music of Pablo Ablanedo is the compositions themselves. As an artist Mr Ablanedo has a prodigious gift for sonic architecture. It appears that sound – acoustics of the empirical kind, that is – seems to speak to Mr Ablanedo in a very private and special way. Note frequencies are revealed in secret, which results in magical combinations of notes – and therefore sounds – which together are strung up like artifacts of immense beauty; remarkable dalliances of melody and harmony; agitated atoms and molecules glued together in rhythms that are at once ancient and yet modern. Even more extraordinary – I suspect – is the fact that Mr Ablanedo could be anywhere in this world and music would resonate within him in exactly the same way as it does. By this, I suppose, is the fact that Mr Ablanedo is Argentinean by birth, but his music reflects an otherworldly source, quite independent of what may be his own cultural skin and sensibility.

Pablo Ablanedo: Chistreza
Pablo Ablanedo: Chistreza

So, for instance, if you put Chistreza together with that [cultural] fact, you might expect to hear “tango” reflected in this music. You will not hear that – at least not overtly, although the “feeling” of the skin close to skin, the smell of sweating dancers and the sexual current that comes from all of that “tango” certainly shimmers under the surface of the music on this recording. And why not? This is music of the melting pot of humanity – wherever that humanity may be. It is urban music that reflects the imagery of an ethos that is an agglomeration of European and criollos, blacks and natives. It is music rooted in the rambling of sound of people struggling to live and make a living. Some of this is brilliantly captured in “Karmaveleando” and in “Chistreza” [Just as other aspects of the vagaries and curiosities of life is reflected in other music of course].

Most especially it is music that is crafted with surgical precision; sublime in aspects of ensemble [playing] as it is in the soli of the virtuosos entrusted with stepping forward into the limelight to deliver musical missives on behalf of the characters they are assigned to play in this evolving instrumental pantomime. You will hear the sensuous, rhythmic passion of music Argentinean in the haunting wail of Diego Urcola’s soli on “Karmavaleando” and “Chistreza”; or feel the reverberations and percussive colourations and African candomblé in the haunting woody notes of Anat Cohen’s solo on “Ti Mi Do”. The solo performances of saxophonists Jérôme Sabbagh and Chris Cheek float beautifully over the ensemble as do those of violinist Jenny Scheinman and guitarist Ben Monder.

Franco Pinna does not solo but his uniquely blended drum set reflects his own singular rhythmic voice. Fernando Huergo also provides a broodingly tumbling rhythmic groove. Daniel Ian Smith also brings his horns to bear in order to accentuate colour and texture. None of this, however, happens by accident; it is all there because Mr Ablanedo’s music wills it and his pianism eggs it on as he rings in the changes in mood, structure and tempo, making for a constantly interesting programme. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration, individuality and tradition is impressively maintained throughout this seductively beckoning recital.

Pablo Ablanedo at the recording studio - Photo by Anna Yatskevich
Pablo Ablanedo at the recording studio – Photo by Anna Yatskevich

Tracks – Side A – 1: La Señal; 2: Karmavaleando; 3: Plaisantriste; Side B – 1: Chistreza; 2: Ti Mi Do; 3: Bipolarious; 4: Winter Variations

Musicians – Pablo Ablanedo: piano; Anat Cohen: clarinet [ solo on Side A-3 and Side B-2]; Jenny Scheinman: violin [soli on Side A-1 and Side B-1]; Chris Cheek: tenor  and soprano saxophones [soli on Side A-1, Side B-4]; Jérôme Sabbagh: tenor and soprano saxophones [soli on Side A-2 and Side B-4]; Diego Urcola: trumpet [soli on Side A-2 and Side B-1]; Ben Monder: guitar [soli on Side B-3, 4]; Fernando Huergo: electric bass; Franco Pinna: drums; Daniel Ian Smith: additional saxophones

Released – 2020
Label – Newvelle [NV026]
Runtime – Side A – 18:02; Side B – 18:57

Featured photo of Pablo Ablanedo by Anna Yatskevich

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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Featured Albums

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

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.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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.

Deo gratis…

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 [9]

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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