“There is something altogether new in this record that is not present in many of Lucía Pulido’s other records. And this has to do with orchestration. This is clearly the hand of Fernando Tarrés.”
There is now a welcome and absolutely beautiful addition to the two Songbooks that Lucía Pulido recorded with Fernando Tarrés. It is Songbook III – Myths, a terrific companion to Songbook I – Beliefs (BAU Records, 2005) and Songbook II – Prayers (BAU Records, 2006), both of which related to the mystical aspect of the Latin music repertoire. The songs on Songbook III – Myths look less at the preternatural and more at the earthy more folk end of the Latin repertoire. The record is an extension of the palimpsest of the series and further proof that Lucía Pulido is by far the most extraordinary interpreter of traditional music. Not only is she probably the greatest narrator of old and new songs; there is no singer barring the griots of Africa who tell stories of time gone by and who can heal the faint heart with song as Pulido can. Though tiny in stature (was not Edith Piaf small as well?) Pulido has power beyond what would be physically possible given her size. Moreover she becomes the characters in the songs swaying and seducing as she sings, piercing the heart and soul with musical arrows that ache and hurt, or bring joy, depending on what the song is supposed to do. And that is simply astounding for like Abbey Lincoln who used to use a more laconic poetic, Pulido is more aligned to the poetics of the melody, leaving the overtones and the harmonies to an inner voice that flies out in the narrative every once in awhile.
There is something altogether new in this record that is not present in many of Lucía Pulido’s other records. And this has to do with orchestration. This is clearly the hand of Fernando Tarrés. This is it: Tarrés, far ahead of his time in this type of folk music is unafraid to use dissonant musical harmonics that slash across the melody, dueling with Pulido. This he does in the form of devices that he probably learnt from Stravinsky and the late classicists. For instance he has used a string quartet in the statuesque version of Dino Saluzzi’s magnificent “Carta a Perdiguero”. On the forlorn “Esperanza” (and elsewhere) he uses the horns and reeds and woodwinds to swoosh across Pulido’s beautifully linear lyric. Then there is Tarrés enormously powerful use of the flatly tuned acoustic guitar, with which he and the ensemble duel mightily with Pulido on “Domingo ‘i chaya” a magnificent Argentinian folk song. All this is reminiscent of the dueling of soloist and symphonic orchestra in a classical concerto.
No praise is also high enough Jerónimo Carmona, the bassist who adds so much tone and color to the proceedings; with nary a root note in his brilliantly laid out changes. The presence of the extraordinary Colombian soprano saxophonist, Antonio Arnedo on “Carmelita adiós” is a stroke of genius on the part of Tarrés as is his inclusion of Donny MaCaslin in a spectacular duet with Lucía Pulido on “Cantos de vaquería”. It would also be remiss if it were not mentioned here that one of the most beautiful songs to come from the southern half of the Americas “Alfonsina y el mar” is rendered here as a spectacular rhythmic version of the aching ballad.
This (Songbook III – Myths) is brilliantly produced and together with the two earlier productions must rank as one of the most powerful series of records to come out of South America; and Colombia/Argentina. It is also a wonderfully engineered and mastered album which speaks volumes of the state of the art in Latin America, and Argentina in particular.
Tracks: Carmelita adiós; Carta a Perdiguero; Coplas sin luna; A Doña Rosa Toledo; Mi mirada; Canción de cuna; Canto de Guabina; Canto en la rama; Esperanza; Domingo ‘i chaya; Alfonsina y el mar; Cantos de vaquería; Corazón maldito; Soy de Salta y hago falta; Pensar; Corazón.
Personnel: Lucía Pulido: voice; Antonio Arnedo: soprano saxophone (1, 6); Juan Pablo di Leone; flutes (1, 8, 14, 16) ; Ricardo Cavalli: clarinets (1, 8, 14), soprano saxophone (1, 8); Emiliano Alvarez: bass clarinet (1, 8, 14); Martin Pantyrer: clarinet and bass clarinet (16); Rodrigo Dominguez: tenor saxophone(1, 3, 8, 9, 12, 14, 17), soprano saxophone (2), clarinet (17); Luis Nacht: tenor saxophone (1, 8, 14), alto saxophone (17); Donny MaCaslin: tenor saxophone (13); Juileta de Fede: fagot (16); Enrique Norris: piano (4, 7, 10); Fernando Tarrés: acoustic guitar (1, 9, 11, 14), Spanish guitar (2, 3, 11, 12, 14), campanas, palos sobre metales (5), piano, platos frotados, procesamiento electronico, collage (6), guitars, caja chayera (7), cuerdas frotadas (8, 9), acoustic and electric guitars (9), caya (9), percussion (9, 16); Juan Pablo Aredondo: acoustic guitar (1, 2), electric guitar (3, 12), effects, (9); Jerónimo Carmona: acoustic bass (1 – 3, 5, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, 17); Carto Brandan: drums (1 – 3, 9, 11, 12, 15; Richard Nant: bombo (5), trumpet (14), percussion (16); (Jorge Sepulveda: percussion (1, 5, 9, 16); Ricardo Gomez: percussion (1, 5, 9, 16); Urian Sarmiento: percussion(1, 5, 9, 16); Grace Medina: violin (2, 6, 17); Cormac Browne: violin (2, 6, 17); Claudio Medina: viola (2, 6, 17); Patricio Villarejo: cello (2, 6, 17); Juan Pablo Navarro: acoustic bass (2).
Lucía Pulido – Official website: www.luciapulido.com
Label: BAU Records
Release date: January 2012
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama
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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