Enrique Fernandez – Cantos del Sexto Sol (Round Whirled 2011)

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Review written by: Raul da Gama

There is a visceral intensity to Cantos Del Sexto Col, the fiery album by reeds and woodwinds maestro Enrique Fernandez. This comes from the ferocious viscosity that swirls and swaggers in what appears to be a myriad of layers of sounds emerging from the instruments he plays, seemingly all at once. Each is annunciated with an apocalyptic shout and all meld with molten splendour into a soup of idiomatic musical dialects—spiritual and profane, swaying with the sacred and cavorting with the wickedly funky polyrhythms and inventions of jazz; sometimes bubbling with the mesmerism of a droning Indian raga (“Qrsna”) and always shuffling and rocking with the Shamanism of the Afro-Cuban Santeria. And all this is clothed in the diaphanous fabric of West-Coast cool.

It might be assumed that all of this is a result of Fernandez’s proverbial “cooking” in his languid manner, which is, in turn, characterized by long and short lines marked by dramatic elevations. Breaking free from the linier flow of his musical architecture, he might suddenly swoop down; then up in a gracious curve, before reverting to the linear, spacy notational narrative, only to invert the harmonic from an ascending to a descending scale. This is masterfully executed on “Dimelo!” “Bolero en el Olvido” and “Ciclos”. If this were suggested is by the emphasis on Fernandez’s vocal style, it is not intended to be so. For there is more:

Two members in the ensemble might be considered to have an equal role in the dense tonal colours and timbral palette employed on this album. The first is Fernandez’s enduring friend and musical landscaper, Greg Landau. The multi-instrumentalist and electronics specialist adds the vicious and funkified, yet soulful splendour to the music. He does this through chopping the electronic drone of his guitar up with the hypnotic thunder of the percussion. And of course there is the electrifying presence on keyboard and vocoder of the magisterial Omar Sosa, who whispers, chants, cajoles and prays; whistles and chortles as alto, tenor and baritone saxophone cross in multiple counterpoint with bass clarinet and flute. Sosa calls upon Elegba, his angels and saints to bless the spiritual charge of the music.

Finally there is the glue that binds it all together and this comes in the form of Geoff Brennan, a bassist of commanding authority who can also skitter and jump with melodic, gymnastic skill if he called upon to refresh the melody with a lyrical sweep of the song element in the music. This he performs with bashful annunciation and clear articulation.

When the elements come together with the intensity and energy that pervades throughout the album, this is a truly mind-expanding, spiritual experience. The album is also memorable for the brief, but beautiful vocalastics of Pauchi Sasaki, who chants and sings delightfully in Japanese calming the churning and foaming ocean of sound that otherwise fires up Cantos del Sexto Sol.

Track Listing: 1. Dimelo!; 2. Boogaloo Nouveau; 3. Nati’s Repose; 4. Qrsna; 5. Bolero en el Olvido; 6. Altiplano; 7. Lamento Andino; 8. Circlos.

Personnel: Enrique Fernandez: alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute and bass clarinet; Omar Sosa: keyboards and vocoder (featured on 1, 5 – 7); Camilo Landau: guitar; Greg Landau: drum and percussion programming; Geoff Brennan: upright bass; Josh Jones: drums; Pauchi Saski: chants and Japanese vocals; Tito de la Rosa: Peruvian chants and percussion; Dave Flores: drums (3).

Related links: Enrique Fernandez on the web: www.facebook.com/profile

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