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Nando Michelin – Reencontro (Self Produced – 2010)

In one of those eternal conundrums in the life of an artist, while Nando Michelin gets plenty of recognition he is relatively little known outside the small coterie of musicians who have taken the proverbial creative leap and transcended cultural boundaries. To be as little known as Michelin in outside intellectual circles is a pathetic fallacy. This is no fault of Michelin of course […]

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In one of those eternal conundrums in the life of an artist, while Nando Michelin gets plenty of recognition he is relatively little known outside the small coterie of musicians who have taken the proverbial creative leap and transcended cultural boundaries. To be as little known as Michelin in outside intellectual circles is a pathetic fallacy. This is no fault of Michelin of course. He is technically superb and forges virtuosity and creativity together, turning out adventurous compositions.

Michelin fortunately remains unfazed by his small following and he has released eight outstanding albums. His latest is Reencontro, a joyous reunion of his trio – with Esperanza Spalding on bass and Richie Barshay on drums and percussion – adding Leala Cyr, a musician with an ethereal voice and who plays a superb trumpet as well. The pianist’s teenage son, Tiago also joins in on drums, on two tracks.

For this set Michelin brought two charts that he had recorded before, but he has recast them here. “Oxossi,” a forest sylph derived from Yoruba worship was first recorded on Michelin’s Double Time Jazz release, Chants (2000), a musical journey through Brazil’s Candombl&#233 rituals and “Paul Gauguin,” from his splendid visual-driven Art (Double Time Jazz, 1999). Both charts are fresh and memorable all over again. “Oxossi,” with its mesmerizing shifts in rhythm that draw wonderful performances from Barshay and Spalding, who follow Michelin’s commanding lead. “Paul Gauguin,” equally tantalizing a melody is exquisitely navigated by Cyr, with her celestial flights of fancy as the ensemble is anchored by Barshay’s tabla in jhap taal.

The new material on this album makes it twice as memorable. “Reencontro,” begins tentatively, but then settles into a wonderful 5/7 pattern. “Parabola,” with its sharp architecture continues what seems to be a common theme of hypnosis with its shifting rhythms as does “Chymera,” which features stealthy tabla and “Kekume,” which comes with a quaint story of its origins, as it was coined from a phonetic transcription of a word that Michelin’s younger son invented. Once again, Michelin melds folk rhythms—such as chacarera, some maracatu (on “”Kekume”) and other Uruguayan folk forms—into a truly contemporary approach to the jazz idiom, using its elasticity and surprise to create some swirling, floating rhythms around which surprising melodic invention takes place. Although this is expected, Michelin and his core trio bring exquisite harmonic sophistication to everything they do on this album.

The tenderness of the ballad, “Paula” and the wistfulness of “Sea and Sand” should not be missed as they serve to shine a light on the softer side of the album that might otherwise pass off as one that merely features musical gymnastics between the musicians.

Much has gone into making this Reencontro exciting and an unforgettable experience. Most of that has to do with the tremendous empathy between the musicians, something that could not have been planned, but simply happened out of the telepathic transmission of pure joy

Tracks: 1. Reencontro; 2. Parabola; 3. Sycamore; 4. Question Mark; 5. Paula; 6. Oxossi; 7. Paul Gauguin; 8. Sea and Sand; 9. Chymera; 10. Kekume.

Personnel: Nando Michelin: piano; Leala Cyr: voice (1, 7, 10), trumpet (4); Esperanza Spalding: bass, voice; Richie Barshay: drums, percussion (1 – 5, 7 – 9); Tiago Michelin: drums (6, 10).

[audio:http://www.latinjazznet.com/audio/reviews/Nando-Michelin-Reencontro.mp3|titles=Track 1 – Reencontro by Nando Michelin – From the CD “Reencontro”]

Nando Michelin on the web: www.myspace.com/nandomichelin

Review written by: Raul da Gama

Founder, Editor, Webmaster: 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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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.

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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