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Paquito D’Rivera and Trio Corrente: Song for Maura

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Paquito DRivera and Trio Corrente

Song for MauraJust when it is believed that Paquito D’Rivera is a fine alto saxophonist who also plays clarinet, he goes and makes an album almost completely on clarinet—a Brasilian one at that; in homage to a country and its people most beloved to the Cuban-born, New York-based genius. Perhaps the magic moment had arrived—never too early and never too late. And as it was all a matter of sharing love, Mr. D’Rivera put it all out there, playing one of his favourite songs and naming the album after one of his favourite women of all time: his mother. The album, is, of course, Song for Maura, which like a magnificent edifice, is built on 13 classic charts—some written for the date—one of which is a tribute to another great woman, the Brasilian chanteuse, Leny Andrade and the other a right royal tribute to the King of choro, Pixinguinha and that is the maestro’s legendary choro, “1 x 0,” which was christened by Pixinguinha in the Portuguese, “Um a zero” written for Brasil’s other great passion and export: football.

Paquito D’Rivera might actually want to be known as a fine clarinet player who also plays alto saxophone. His 2001 release on Pimienta Records, The Clarinetist, a recording he made solely on clarinet, was nominated for a Grammy in the Latin Jazz category. He plays a singular burnished burgundy-coloured instrument which boasts a classic woody resonating sound, and this matches his singular voice which is warm, with moist notes rushing out of the bell of his instrument like a herd of excited impala, leaping into the air as if intoxicated by it. Mr. D’Rivera’s lines begin simply enough, but then turn into wonderful filigreed baroque characters pirouetting like figures in a circling one another, then coming together, melody and harmony locked in passionate embrace. On this album, Song for Maura the added element of Brasilian rhythms, recalls some of his finest performances in that idiom, especially those that he played with Dizzy Gillespie in the United Nations Orchestra. In fact he made it well known that one of his abiding passions is Brasil—from the Carnival, with its dancers and samba bands, as well its folkloric and MPB to post-MPB popular music. And he has played every form of that kind of music.

Mr. D’Rivera loves explosive introductions. On this recording he sets the blistering pace with his version of “Chorinho pra Você”. Fortunately his ensemble—Trio Corrente, comprising pianist Fabio Torres, bassist Paulo Paulelli and percussion colourist, Edú Ribeiro—is all-Brasilian, has been playing together for a few years now and takes up his gauntlet with ease; in fact it is the trio who start things off. Mr. Ribeiro actually is one of the stars of this recording with his awe-inspiring brush-work form end to end. Of course there are only winners here and elsewhere. “Song For Maura,” which Paquito D’Rivera has played on numerous occasions—including one with Airto Moreira and Ignacio Berroa and the rest of the United Nations Orchestra—gets a complete makeover. The elegiac nature of the composition makes for a truly emotional rendition especially when Mr. D’Rivera hits the upper register of his clarinet. Pianist Fabio Torres develops an exquisite solo here, constructing his fine excursion as if he were sculpting an exquisite figurine; of Ms. Maura, no doubt. The excitement that follows knows no bounds as Paquito D’Rivera and Trio Corrente pursue a road less travelled.

It might be customary for musicians paying tribute to Brasil by picking familiar charts, but not Paquito D’Rivera. Interestingly the clarinetist and his trio lead off with a typically complex composition “Di Menor” by the great Brasilian Guinga and Celso Viáfora, which of course suits Mr. D’Rivera perfectly as it comprises dramatic twists and turns in melody and challenging rhythmic variations. The group sparkles on choro music from the pens of Severino Araujo and Pixinguinha, as well as on ethereally beautiful compositions by Johnny Alf and Claudio Roditi and of course “Sonoroso” from the pen of Ximbinho, the title of which seems to suit the sonority of Mr. D’Rivera’s wonderful woodwind instrument. And there is plenty more on this recording to cheer wildly about. Which is why the album has been nominated for a Grammy Award, which is not, the only reason why this record is so desirable; it is all in the exquisite music.

Track Listing: Chorinho pra Você; Song For Maura; Di Menor; Sonoroso; Cebola no Frevo; For Leny; Murmurando; Paquito; Céu e Mar; 1 x 0; Tem Dó; Recife Blues; Saidera.

Personnel: Paquito D’Rivera: alto saxophone, clarinet; Fabio Torres: piano; Paulo Paulelli: contrabass; Edú Ribeiro: drums.

Label: Sunnyside Records | Release date: July 2013

Paquito D’Rivera on the web: paquitodrivera.com | Buy music on: amazon

Trio Corrente on the web: triocorrente.com | Buy music on: amazon

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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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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