Doug Beavers: Sol

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You can always count on Doug Beavers – one of the creative mainstays of the formidable Spanish Harlem Orchestra – to surprise you with every album he has made as a leader. And even if you approach his 2020 recording Sol with the kind of expectation [that comes from an album seemingly inspired by all things bright and life-giving by virtue of it being named after the sun], the repertoire is really quite special. For one thing the album comprises charts that are almost completely vocal in nature. However, these charts are among the most lyrical music that Mr Beavers has ever written [and played] so far in his career. These are gorgeous [mostly] limpid tunes that make for thoroughly seductive listening. This impeccably recorded music is by turns playful, elegant and ingenious, with Mr Beavers’ legendary warm, rich tone very much to the fore and backed by an almost intuitively empathetic group of musicians.

The lyricism of the music is evident right out of the gates, with the luscious arrangement of “Sol”,  the lyrics which are expertly penned by one of three featured vocalists on the album – in this case, it is Jeremy Bosch. Like all of the vocals on the album, this song is exquisitely sung. It also sets the listener up for the delectable fare that follows in short order. There is the heartfelt ballad entitled “Mía”, for instance, which is sung by Carlos Cascante and although the luscious tranquility of the music is fairly uniform throughout the album, the music ends in a relatively hyper-driven swirl of instrumentalism and vocals – with “Ride”, wonderfully vocalised by Ada Dyer – which are equal parts a beguiling and an angsty neo-expressionistic performance.

Through all of this music we have a constant reminder that Mr Beavers is a master of transformative artistry and seems to wear this with a luminous sheen during the music of this album. His powerful sense of melodicism is evident in the glorious phrasing with which he propels melodic variations, one more lyrical than the other flowing in a constant stream throughout each piece. Superb arrangements abound and feature some truly propulsive music held together by the dynamic drumming of Robby Ameen, together with the percussion colourations by Luisito Quintero, Camilo Molina and George Delgado. Their virtuoso expertise especially from bass trombonist and tubist Max Seigel – and that of the rest of the ensemble cast – offers a lustrous tonal backdrop which throws the full stature of Mr Beavers’ own shimmering virtuosity into high relief.

Track list – 1: Sol; 2: Mía; 3: Jillalude; 4: Clarity; 5: Triangle (Interlude); 6: Sonic; 7: Sunshine; 8: Pasos; 9. -11; 10: Eterno; 11: Quédate; 12: Ride

Personnel – Doug Beavers: trombones, composer, arranger and musical director; Jeremy Bosch: lead vocals, [and lyrics 1, 6, 11], background vocals and coros; Carlos Cascante: lead vocals [and lyrics 2, 10] and coros; Ada Dyer: lead vocal [12] and background vocals; Marco Bermúdez: coros; Yeissonn Villamar: piano, Fender Rhodes and keyboards; Mike Ciro: guitars; Jerry Madera: bass; Rubén Rodriguez: bass [1, 12]; Robby Ameen: drums; Luisito Quintero: timbales, bongos, güiro, triangle and shaker; George Delgado: congas, itótele, shekere; Camilo Molina: okónkolo, iyá; Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez: guiro [6, 7]; Max Seigel: bass trombone and tuba; Jonathan Powell: trumpets and flugelhorn; Joe Locke: vibraphone [6, 7]; Eric C. Davis: French horn; Iván Renta: soprano saxophone [10]; Oliver Santana: alto saxophone [12]

Released – 2020
Label – Circle 9 Records
Runtime – 56:30

Doug Beavers - Art of the Arrangement

Suggested Listening
Doug Beavers: Art of the Arrangement (El Arte del Arreglo)

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