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Quatro: Music by John Finbury



Quatro - Music by John Finbury

John Finbury has long since displayed a prodigious gift for musicianship in all its forms – not simply popular forms, but also traditional  and contemporary Brasilian forms of music and dance too. He has followed up his Brasilian sojourn, Sorte! – John Finbury ft. Thalma De Freitas, with Quatro, with a veritable Spanish fiesta that traverses a musical experience that stretches from Spain to Spanish Latin America. The title of his album, however, is more than a geometric suggestion that references the composition of this group; it is rather a metaphor that is culturally topographical and comes with powerful political and sociological undertones as well.

Like many musical offerings that have seen the light of day in a time of contemporary neo-Fascism, Mr Finbury’s musical offering is exquisitely artful and sublimely beautiful in form and content. Where much music that protests the arrogantly overt right-wing turn that the United States of America has taken post-2016 tends to be shrill – the noise of which often tends to detract from the message – Mr Finbury’s music always speaks [and sings] of hurt and anger just as it would speak [and sing] of the edifying values of love, pleasure and peace with the loftiest human expression: artful grace, the very embodiment of all that is desirable and beautiful.

As with his previous recording, Mr Finbury and his eminent producer, Emilio D. Miller, have chosen wisely; they have conferred upon the incomparable pianist Chano Domínguez the pivotal role in this music, and then set about to ornament this with the seductive beauty of Magos Herrera’s vocals. To complete the crafting of this masterpiece the music is enhanced by the harmonic and rhythmic genius of bassist John Patitucci and the percussion colourations of another prodigiously-gifted musician, drummer Antonio Sánchez.

As it was in Sorte! Mr Finbury has crafted music that dives deep into the idiomatic beauty of music; in this instance it is music of Iberian character that – with the colonisation of South America – influenced that sonic landscape as well. In Mr Finbury’s art, however, the ugliness of colonisation is supplanted by the grace and beauty of the art that ensued. The very nature of the collision of influences – Arabic modes upon European ones, for instance, as evidenced in the Spanish inflections of Mr Domínguez’s pianism – speaks to the importance of cultural collusion through the migration of people and art.

The variety and stylishness of the music of Quatro is matched by the performances of all the musicians throughout. Undulating urbanity and lyricism, for instance, in the musicianship of Mr Domínguez displayed particularly on “Salon Jardin”. Performances by Mr Patitucci and Mr Sánchez – especially in the instrumental interludes of the latter two musicians through their debonair virtuosity, are object lessons in the very essence of style. And Miss Herrera sings, throughout, with aristocratic grace. All in all, the music of Quatro is evocative of high art as few could even hope to attain.

Track list –  1: Llegará El Dia; 2: Independence Day; 3: La Madre De Todos Los Errores; 4: All The Way To The End; 5: Comenzar; 6: Salon Jardin; 7: Romp

Personnel – Magos Herrera: vocals; Chano Domínguez: piano; John Patitucci: bass; Antonio Sánchez: drums

Released – 2020
Label – Green Flash Music
Runtime – 38:36

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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Featured Albums

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá



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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