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Marco Granados – Music from Venezuela (Soundbrush Records 2008)

This record comes ten years after Marco Granados’ earlier record of Venezuelan music; Amanecer arrived to much critical acclaim. During that time, Granados had traversed the wide soundscape of Latin American music also paying tribute to the great Argentinean tango and bandoneon master, Astor Piazzolla, with Tango Dreams and Luna, a superb program of romantic works for flute […]

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This record comes ten years after Marco Granados’ earlier record of Venezuelan music; Amanecer arrived to much critical acclaim. During that time, Granados had traversed the wide soundscape of Latin American music also paying tribute to the great Argentinean tango and bandoneon master, Astor Piazzolla, with Tango Dreams and Luna, a superb program of romantic works for flute and guitar. Every record has been marked by unparalleled artistry, so much so that it is safe to say the Granados’ skill at this delicate woodwind instrument gives new meaning to the word virtuosity.

Music of Venezuela is unique in that it not only features superlative playing by Granados, but it also introduces the world to the work of some of the finest music by Venezuelan composers, who would mostly be obscured by a rather apathetic media, mostly interested in music that is hybrid and derivative and radio-friendly in a cookie-cutter sort of way. Add to that the absolute mastery of the lead instrument that Granados displays throughout and also exquisite accompaniment on the cuatro and bass and this record is at once remarkable on many levels.

It is impossible to characterize Marco Granados’ playing without speaking in superlatives. Granados has become a complete master of breath control, beyond what is often thought to be humanly possible. On tracks such as “Cañoneando” and “Regresando” for instance he holds notes for so long a period of time that it appears that they are trapped in time. On “Pa’ Oriente Compay” he makes a virtuoso turn on a pianissimo high C in the recapitulation of the piece and this is absolutely breathtaking. And there are other parts on the record where Granados performs instrumental feats of such excellence that comparison with the virtuosity of such musicians as Piazzolla and D’Rivera would not be such a stretch indeed.

The music on this record brings the work of such staggering composers as Alberto Valderrama – the beautiful joropo, “Pa’ Oriente Compay” and “Los Tiestos de Moca” and the electrifying, “El Avispero”. There is also jazz-inflected work by Aquiles Baez – the exquisite portrait, “La Abuelita,” and the puckish “Cañoneando” among others. “Confesion a las Estrellas” is by the brilliant cuatro, flute and clarinet player, Orlando Cardozo. “Julio Mendez, from the same region as Granados originally came from is represented by “La Encantadora”. The Chilean-born Julio Mendez is also represented here with “Mi Niña”. Agelvis Sanchez wrote “El Gavilan,” a classical style joropo and this is perhaps the most recognized song on the record. “Los Doce,” though not originally a Venezuelan song, from the pen of the Colombian, Alvaro Sandoval, is immensely popular among the folk artists of Granados’ home country. The calypso, “Bumbac” is from the pen of Ricardo Sandoval, and Rodner Padilla’s work is celebrated with “El Negrito ‘e Caja de Agua”. Perhaps the most fascinating track is the one written by the Brazilian, Jacob do Bandolim, “El Vuelo de la Mosca” and this track features an electrifying duet by guest artist, Francisco Flores, on trumpet and Granados on flute.

It would not be appropriate to conclude without praise for the musicians on this record. Not just those who are a part of Un Mundo Ensemble – notably bassist, Roberto Koch and cuatro player, Jorge Glem, but also the outstanding work by the Venezuelan jazz bassist, Gonzalo Teppa, who brings the beguiling “Regresando” to life with his solo turn and harmonic and rhythmic ingenuity throughout. However, “Music of Venezuela” remains a stellar record of the music of that country. And it is another reason why Marco Granados may easily be the finest flutist to have graced the Latin American music scene in modern times.

Tracks: 1. Pa’ Oriente Compay (To the Orient, Compadre); 2. Los Tiestos de Moca (Moca’s Pottery); 3. El Avispero (The Wasp’s Nest); 4. Confesion a las Estrellas (Confession to the Stars); 5. La Abuelita (The Grandmother); 6. Mi Niña (My Girl); 7. Cañoneando (Street Playing); 8. Regresando (Returning); 9. La Encantadora (The Enchantress); 10. Recordando a Tila (Remembering Tila); 11. Los 12 (The Twelve); 12. Tema y Variaciones de “El Gavilan” (Theme and Variations on “El Gavilan”); 13. Bumbac (Calypso Drum); 14. El Negrito ‘e Caja de Agua (The Little Black Boy From Caja de Agua); 15. El Vuelo de la Mosca (The Flight of the Fly).

Personnel – Un Mundo Ensemble: Marco Granados: flute; Jorge Glem: cuatro (all tracks except 4, 8, 13); Roberto Koch: bass (except 8); Leonardo Granados: maracas (2, 8, 9, 14); Manuel Rangel: maracas (1, 3, 5, 7, 10 – 12, 15).

Guests: Francisco Flores: trumpet (3, 15); Hector Molina: cuatro (4, 13); Gonzalo Teppa: bass (8); Henry Linarez: cuatro (8); Alexander Livinali: bumbec, bells (13).

[audio:http://www.latinjazznet.com/audio/reviews/Marco-Granados-La-Abuelita.mp3|titles=Track 5 – La Abuelita by Marco Granados – From the CD “Music from Venezuela”]

Marco Granados on the web: www.sunflute.com

Review written by: Raul da Gama

Web Publisher. Founder, Editor & Webmaster for Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report & That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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