Espontáneo: The Abdala Sessions

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Espontáneo: The Abdala Sessions
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Espontáneo or spontaneity is the key reason why the world falls in love with Afro-Cuban music. From the trova tradition through to performances of traditional forms such as son, danzón and others – especially the manner in which classic elements of clave have been expressed in the proverbial Cuban descarga, in this descarga. Firstly, this recording session is an extremely spare one; featuring just a guitarist, tresero and a bongosero. Secondly, the level of virtuosity that each player brings to The Abdala Sessions is of a rarefied kind. But most of all the recording puts a spotlight on the fact that great musicianship brings with it an extremely high calibre of ideas that seem to flow as if the players here have an uncannily empathetic understanding of each other. It’s almost as if the music comes from a single brain.

It is also a not so big secret anymore that some of the finest musicianship has never really been locked away in Cuba, but remains hidden in plain sight. As far as discoverers from the so-called outside world are concerned between Dizzy Gillespie and Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer, then with Ry Cooder and Wim Wenders, there has been a proverbial musical Gold Rush flowing between the US and Puerto Rico, Canada and Cuba. It is beginning to look like Bob Lord and Parma Recordings have found a new conduit that is leading to spate of recordings on Mr Lord’s new, Ansonica imprint.

This one with guitarist Dayron Ortega Guzmán, tresero Maykel Elizarde Ruano and bongosero Eduardo Silveira is the latest in what looks to be the beginning of a breathtaking series of what Mr Lord is calling “Música de Cuba”. Throughout the nearly hour-long recording we hear music that is played by prodigiously gifted musicians who interpret new and old music with relaxed grace and total lack of vanity. The phenomenally high-quality of instrumentation – which, mind you, is played on the fly – is riveting. Song after song is simply counted off and reeled off by these musicians who weave a spell of charms with – at the appropriate time – arresting grandeur as in “Son Pa’ Gozar (Bolero a la Intemperie)”, “Improvisar (Un Nengón pero No Salió)” and the incredible version of “Mambo Influenciado”; the latter as if it were composed on the spot.

In fact all of this music is underpinned with a certain unbridled classicism, matched only by the winningest surprises that the musicians toss off as if they were continually giddy with excitement to be in the same room as each other. It’s an irresistible disc that also comes with exquisite production values enjoyed throughout – right up to the final solo tres piece. It’s worth noting that there is a booklet that in all likelihood will provide a vivid commentary on this recording session. Too bad it was not included in the envelope that was received for this review.

Track list – 1: Conga pa’ Tocar; 2: Influencia (Chorino); 3: Son Pa’ Gozar (Bolero a la Intemperie); 4: A Improvisar (Un Nengón pero No Salió); 5: Jugando con la Nota; 6: Mambo Influenciado; 7: El Golpe de la Bibijagua; 8: Guajirando; 9: Improvisaciones (Tres Solo)

Personnel – Dayron Ortega Guzmán: guitar; Maykel Elizarde Ruano: tres; Eduardo Silveira: percussion

Released – 2018
Label – Ansonica Records (AR 0012)
Runtime – 50:39

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