Coto Pincheira, as he prefers being called, has made an enthusiastic impression with The Sonido Modern Project, literally, the Modern Sound Project. This virtuoso pianist, to whom clave comes naturally, has attempted to pour this rollicking backbeat into a cauldron set alight by the vast array of Afro-Caribbean metaphors and rhythms. The result is a molten mix that gathers momentum from Cuba and Chile into half a dozen other South American musical traditions. To these, Pincheira adds two fleet-fingered bassists: Gary Brown and Sam Bevan who bob and wobble around the Latin beats, creating a deeply modern and shape defying groove.

There is only one instance in the program when Carlos Santana is recast almost too obviously and that is on “Positive Influences” so that it appears by design that a pseudo mariachi start kicks the burning track into action. Guitarist Dave McNab has everything to do with this track, right out of The Swing of Delight. Otherwise, the music appears not to copy much of the grooves gone by. The project picks up strength right after the track, redeemed by wonderful work on batás by Silvestre Martinez. “Danzón For A Night,” for instance is a superb danzón, that mixes the tango and some upbeat son and cha-cha-chá as well. Pincheiro employs the talent of the legendary timbalero, Orestes Vilató here and this lifts the piece into the stratosphere.

“Tribute To A Generation” is a fine homage to the era of Irakere and actually recalls the historic contribution that the ensemble contributed to the language of Latin music with exquisite piano work from Pincheira. The artist even provides a generous, but sly reference to Hilario Durán in his bursts of piano con clave that dapple the song with virtuosic delight. “Original Steps” is yet another example of the influence of John Coltrane in the realm of Latin music. This one is actually a rather fine take on “Giant Steps” with inventive clave replacing Coltrane’s modal excursions.

Pincheira makes a memorable turn in “Modern Sound Project,” which puts a truly creative spin on a myriad of Latin rhythms from son and danzón to changui. Here the pianist shows how cleverly he is able to construct traditional modes in a modern context and he uses his bassist just as well as he employs the percussionists and brass to turn on a dime. Once again, the band jumps up to the challenge. On “A Chilean in Havana,” Pincheira is able to twist nueva canción and cumbia into a knot of new rhythms that weave in and out of Hip-hop and charanga, guajira and guaracha -all traditional Cuban dance rhythms. The song provides an alluring cap to the staggeringly beautiful project.

Coto Pincheira has shown enormous promise with this musical excursion. He’s channeled the great Latin traditions into a modern context without compromising the integrity and enjoyment of old and new.

Tracks: 1. Suite 301; 2. Positive Influences; 3. Danzón For A Night; 4. Wendy’s Ballad; 5. Tribute To A Generation; 6. Original Steps; 7. Modern Sound Project; 8. A Chileno In Havana.

Personnel: Gary Brown: bass (1, 3 – 5, 7); Sam Bevan: bass (2, 6, 8); David Flores: drum set (3, 4, 7); Colin Douglas: drum set, batas (1, 2, 5, 6, 8); Dave McNab: guitar (2); Sheldon Brown: tenor and alto saxophones (1, 2, 5 – 8); Mike Olmos: trumpet (1, 5 – 8); Miguel Martinez: flute (3); Silvestre Martinez: congas, batas (1 – 3, 5 – 8); David Frazier: batas, percussion (1, 2, 5, 6); Orestes Vilato: timbal (3); Alfredo de la Fe: violin (3); Coto Pincheira: piano, keyboards.

Coto Pincheira on the web: www.cotopincheira.com

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