If the history of the tres is ever written, in the context of contemporary Cuban music Renesito Avich will be credited, almost single-handedly, with relocating one of Cuba’s most iconic harmonic instruments in the 21st century and beyond. A caveat here: the superlative virtuoso Benjamin Lapidus can also possibly take some of that credit, bringing with him the distinction of being an accomplished pedagogue as well.
But Mr Avich is the star who occupies the centre of the super constellation, comprising musicians playing any harmonic instrument – traditionally attributed to Cuba [European instruments, such as the piano excepted]. If that sounds like hyperbole to the scoffers and refusniks with megaphones in public squares, all they must do is listen to the irresistible repertoire on Mr Avich’s 2023 album, simply entitled Tres.
Truth be told, there would possibly be no Mr Avich without the rich – and continuing – legacy of the Dean of the Tres, Pancho Amat, who set every benchmark that any instrumentalist came after him had to aspire to, and who raised every bar, almost impossibly higher with every performance; with every recording he made. But Mr Avich seemingly leap-frogged over one bar after the other with Olympian skill. The result is that he now is the standard-bearer of the instrument. Moreover, with the works on Tres [five of seven have been composed by him], he has redefined what a tresero can create and perform on the iconic instrument.
With high-spirited performances from song to song and torrid emotions of modern day son Cubano, Mr Avich has delivered music of such eloquent lyricism that one is left quite breathless throughout the recording. Moreover, his bristling genius shines brightly as he unveils the narratives of each song with ornamentation that is exquisitely intricate, yet never once detracts from the intelligently parsed dynamics and long singing lines of every song. Every note in Guararey de Pastora by Roberto Baute has a different colour, while the classic son Convergencia by Bienvenido Julián Gutierrez radiates inners strength and ravishing nuance.
Mr Avich’s own originals offer a variety of moods. The tresero briefly – but bravely – traverses the South American part of the continent, treating us to Siesta Key, written and played in the form of a Brasilian choro on which he also plays – with uncommon skill – the cavaquinho as well as the Venezuelan cuatro. This is immediately followed by Son Vecinos on which he leads no less than three Puerto Rican cuatro performers with his impeccably played tres on a merry musical romp that explores with depth, harmonic adventure, richness of sonority and great rhythmic gusto that the work demands.
He closes out the set with Conflictos, a work of such beauty that one easily forgets that the meaning of the title, his soft voiced lyric adds much to the gorgeousness of the piece. Throughout this superb album Mr Avich displays brilliant fingerwork on melodically and harmonically challenging works, always with insolent virtuosity. Each of his soli builds on the ensemble passages so much so that the music reaches crescendos of such power and beauty as to carry the music to a rarefied realm. If there’s one disappointment, the album is too short. But then, on the other hand, one is left waiting with bated breath for what might come from this once-in-a-generation artist.
YouTube Video – Guararey de Pastora: Renesito Avich
Music – 1: Guararey de Pastora; 2: Convergencia; 3: Con mis amigos; 4: Siesta Key; 5: Son Vecinos; 6: Pilón Sin Miseria; 7: Conflictos.
Musicians – Renesito Avich: tres, electric tres , guitar [2, 4, 6], cavaquinho , Venezuelan cuatro , guiro , maracas [2, 3], marimbula , claves [2, 3], vocals , engineering [1 – 4, 6, 7], production and mixing; Fabiola Muñóz: Puerto Rican cavaquinho ; Maribel Delgado: Puerto Rican cavaquinho ; Luis Sanz: Puerto Rican cavaquinho ; Enrique Diaz: guitar ; Andy Rubal: piano ; Marcos Sanchez: accordion , production and engineering ; Mauricio Rodriguez: contrabass [2, 3] and engineering ; Samuel Burgos: electric bass ; Yorgis Goiricelaya: electric bass  and engineering ; Gerardo Rivas: bongo ; Yasmane Santos: bongo , and percussion ; Andy Fornet: percussion ; Otto Santana: percussion [6, 7]; Daniel Barrios: percussion ; Patricio Chino Diaz: timbal [solo on 1]; Pedro Speck: bongo de Montje Botija ; Joselito Hernandez: guiro ; Abel Virelles: trumpet [2, solo on 7]; Yosmel Garceran: trombone ; Yunior Arronte: alto saxophone ; Joaquin: clarinet ; Jose Valentino: flute ; Roberto Andux: engineering ; Livan Trujillo: engineering ; Eric Maldonado: engineering ; José Valentino: engineering ; Pablo Gutiérrez: engineering ; Yunior Arronte: engineering .
Released – 2023
Label – Independent
Runtime – 27:15
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