The elegant pianistic urgings—whether in consonant or in dissonant harmony—at the delicate hand of the Colombian-born Carolina Calvache are much too seductive to resist. Whether she is recalling a hymn from another time or simply “singing” in praise of her mother, Ms. Calvache plays with poignant dynamics and captivating curling of notes to pierce the heart with fine seemingly painless needles. This is to suggest that she never means to hurt, but rather ply the senses open with elegiac pronouncements as far as she can animate her piano enough to supplant her heart-felt emotions with a flutter of notes, a will-o-the-wisp of an idiomatic phrase, and a loping line that it seems to ululate as it slips by the inner ear. And yet as feminine as Ms. Calvache is and as such femininity would suggest frailty, she often is an exception to that rule. The pianist lays firm hands on the keyboard and calls the notes as if she were a hypnotist to respond to her command to awake and become a devastatingly beautiful harmonic progression, woven into the muted horn or the svelte alto saxophone; thus to turn into a fabulous fabric mage as if by a magician rather than a musician.
It might come as a considerable surprise that this record–Sotareño is her first. So sure-footed is she in the melodic and harmonic language with which she utters her poetic presumptions in music that she is at once mature and a truly old soul. Fortunately—and this is true of all immigrant and wayfaring musicians—she is indeed anchored in the idiom of her cultural topography, which is Colombia. That she comes from a remote part of that country adds to the excitement. The rhythmic metaphors that she mixes in to the music she has written is rather colourful and results in a narrative that is daubed by a swishing brush in colours that dazzle in their earthiness and the manner in which they glint and sparkle. With an indulgence in the swinging elastic metaphor of jazz, the music is coaxed from out of its country cloister and is given a new lease on life as is the old hymn in “El Sotareño.” Elsewhere a moody melody bobbles and ends up forgetting the rather lengthy lament that Ms. Calvache encounters, as in “Melodia Triste.” The pianist’s ability to tell a story is also riveting. “Dream Maker” and “Melancolía” are exquisite examples.
Best of all Ms. Calvache has an uncanny sense of who best to draw to her heart. Consider the players in this group. First and foremost is Hans Glawischnig, an extremely robust and muscular player, who must, here, bend like a reed by a river, and comply with the feminine sensibility of Ms. Calvache, when she asks of him. This is why Mr. Glawischnig is recognised as one of the finest of his tribe today. The same could be said of saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, who also plays well within himself to interpret the charming music of Carolina Calvache. Michael Rodriguez also makes light of the onerous task of accompanying an artist who has so many new and compelling stories to tell. And then there are the percussionists, who paint rather than play upon their instruments. But the crowning glory is Ms. Carolina Calvache, who has not so much as burst through the scene, but elbowed her way playing her instrument with singular beauty and telling stories so wondrous that everyone should want to listen.
Track List: El Sotareño; Stella; Lluvia; Melodia Triste; Monday; Too Soon; Dream Maker; Melancolía; Te Agradezco; El Sotareño (Solo).
Personnel: Carolina Calvache: piano; Antonio Sanchez: drums (1); Michael Rodriguez: trumpet (3, 6); Jaleel Shaw: alto saxophone (1, 4, 5), soprano saxophone (8); Hans Glawischnig: bass (1 – 9); Ludwig Afonso: drums (2 – 8).
Released – 2014
Label: Sunnyside Records