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Sofia Tosello, Yuri Juárez: Tangolandó

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sofia-tosello-yuri-juarez-tangolandoWhen Yuri Juárez plays a guitar, his touch is so full of soul and his expression and technique so sensual that his playing is reminiscent of a Don Juan caressing every nook and cranny of a woman’s body. Lest this sound too sensationalist, it must bear mention that the 2012 album, Tangolandó, with the inimitable Argentinean-born New York-based vocalist Sofia Tosello appears to be the main muse. It is hardly surprising that this should be so as Tosello is that kind of vocalist who, like the very best manipulators of the “first” instrument, reaches deep into her soul when she sings. And she vocalises with her whole body. Her voice is visceral and when there is an ache in her heart the heat of broken nerves and tissue “sound” like the painful bubbling of the blood. Thus the sound of the beating “heart” in her voice brings an elemental sadness to some music and tears run down the lyrics. When there must be joy in the song, then she swings and her voice does a kind of dance that is so tactile and is almost visual. Juárez is much the same, but it is his guitar that does the weeping and the joyous laughter. These two musicians seem to belong to each other; certainly they do in a musical sense.

This is why some of the finest classics from Perú and Argentina find a brand new life on this record. It is true that Tangolandó is a sort of New York experiment; something that Tosello and Juárez have invested in. Musical fusions do not always make sense and are often failures because one “musical” side of the fusion must “give” in order for the other to shine. But on this record the so-called fusion is so exquisitely seamless that it is almost impossible to separate where one starts and the other ends. Clearly Sofia Tosello and Yuri Juárez have imagined this project before it was put onto tape. And imagination is the key here. For instance it is not so much the sound of the accordion traditional on a tango that gracefully melds the song “Volver” into what must now sashay and sway as a “tango/landó”, but it is the spirit that moves the music through its instrumentalists especially in the glue that binds it all together: the voice of Tosello and the guitar of Juárez. The same can be said of “Niebla Del Riachuelo,” where the cajón and the accordion do a mad dance all of their own as Juárez and Tosello play an aching song of longing.

Those tracks are the result of the dreamy imagination of Sofia Tosello and Yuri Juárez; the memorable efforts in the rarefied musical topography of “tango/landó,” which weaves a new tapestry stretching from the Afro-Peruvian music from the guitarist’s hands and the Argentinean soul of Sofia Tosello. But they are by no means all the gems that this album contains. The classic Afro-Peruvian Festejo “Cambalache” is where the dynamism of this pair begins. Tosello is magnificent here as she captures the spirit and sensuality of the dance. “Nostalgias” is a lament where the lyric is turned into a series of aching sighs making the vocal exquisitely unforgettable. In fact the album is overflowing with music that is exciting and memorable, right down to the energetic chart, “Astorpolka,” Juárez’s vibrant to the great accordion player from Argentina, who more than haunts the album.

Tracks: Cambalache; Vuelvo al Sur; El Ultimo Café; Canción Inútil; La Arenosa; Nostalgias; Milonga Sentimental; Naranjo en Flor; Volver; Niebla Del Riachuelo; Astorpolka.

Personnel: Sofía Tosello: voice; Yuri Juárez: guitars; Omar Massa: accordion; Jose “Pepe” Céspedes: piano, keyboards (4); Pablo Citarella: piano, keyboards; Enderson Herencia: electric, fretless bass (4); Gerardo Scaglione: contrabass; María Elena Pacheco: violin (7, 11); James Ogle: violin (4); Hugo Alcázar: drums; Leonardo “Gigio” Parodi: cajón, cajita, quijada, campana; Miguel Reyna: cello (11); Josha Oetz: contrabass (11); Juan Medrano Cotito: cajón (11); Alex Sarrin: drums (11).

Label: Lilihouse Music
Release date: October 2012
Sofia Tosello – Official website: sofiatosello.com
Yuri Juárez – Official website: yurijuarez.net
Buy Yuri Juarez’s music: amazon

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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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.

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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