In the 1990s Gregor Huebner seems to have fallen into a time-warp the door of which portal opened into Argentina. There Huebner and his brother discovered the magic of Latin American music. The effect on him was mesmerising for that is where his heart often lies despite the fact that he is classically trained, has performed violin concertos and other classical music with the Sirius Quartet and also performed with several stellar musicians such as Joe Zawinul. Lately, however, the urge to express himself in the Brasilian and the Latin idioms has been irresistible; so compelling in fact that he ended up touring Argentina, Brasil and Cuba extensively, for years, playing with musicians steeped in their cultures – men like Johnny Almendra, Portinho and Pedro Giraudo, and from Uruguay – the bandoneon player Raul Jaurena. And that’s how the ensemble El Violin Latino eventually was born.
There is little doubt that the music of Brasil and Latin America must be in your very soul for you to speak its language; for it to be played, as the legendary Dizzy Gillespie once wrote so beautifully and memorably, ‘Con Alma’. There is a very special and, quite contrarily, whispered emotion that informs the great music of that still-mysterious and magical pert of the globe. There are more than a handful of musicians, however, who seem to ‘get it’ almost instinctively as if they were born into the ethos even if they actually weren’t. Among those playing today a few names come instantly to mind. The marvellous Canadian flutist and soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett and her producer and trumpet-playing husband Larry Cramer, the vocalist and pianist Tom Lellis and the members –past and present – of Manhattan Transfer. And you can now add the name of the German violinist Gregor Huebner to that list.
That latter group distinguished itself with a release entitled El Violin Latino Vol. 1 not so long ago. The success of that project resulted in another extensive tour of South America and another set of performances which have been gathered on a new release as El Violin Vol. 2. This is a glorious album. Simply glorious. The energy of Huebner’s violin lights up the music of Cuba, Argentina and Brasil in a manner that is visceral and infectious too. The most revealing part of the album is how deeply Huebner gets into the guts of the music. No one can teach you how to play like that; it must come from the inner core of your being and that is what makes this album so inebriating to listen to.
The music of Brasil, of Cuba and Argentina is played by invoking the spirit of each country in a very special way. You hear this in the Jobim classic ‘Aguas de Março’ as well in music by Astor Piazzolla (‘Fracanapa’) and in charts such as ‘La Cañafístula’ (Oriente López), ‘La Ultima Corda’ (Anibal Trollo). But the true extent of the absorption of tradition lies in Huebner’s own compositions. Five of the fourteen songs on this disc have been composed either by him or, in one instance, with Amparo Baron (‘Gitano Yambú’). Despite the classic fare on the album, one must marvel at such bright and sensuousness as on ‘New York Tango Impressions’, the primordial energy of ‘Tiempo de Almendra’ and perhaps where all of the intuitiveness and world of Huebner’s music comes together – in ‘Fantasía’. It is in all of these works that the true compositional skill and virtuosity is exhibited.
Track List – A Vontade Mesmo; Aguas de Março; Fracanapa; Fantasía; Tiempo de Almendra; La Cañafístula; La Ultima Corda; For Octavio; El Frio y la Oscuridad; Life in Rio; Serenade; A Miguel Angá; Gitano Yambú; New York Tango Impressions.
Personnel – Gregor Huebner: violin, octave violin, voice; In Cuba: Yumaria: voice; Amparo Baron: voice; Karen Joseph: flute; Klaus Müller: piano; Ruben Rodríguez: bass; Johnny Almendra: timbales and voice; Luis Bauzo: congas; Jerome Goldschmidt: bongos; In Brasil: Maucha Adnet: voice; Klaus Müller: piano; Lincoln Goines: bass; Portinho: drums; In Argentina: Ernesto Camino: voice; Raul Jaurena: bandoneon: Emilio Solla: piano; Pedro Giraudo: bass.
Label: GLM Music
Release date: March 2016
Running time: 1:04:24
YouTube Playlist – Gregor Huebner: El Violin Latino Vol. 2
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