César Orozco and Jorge Glem reveal their purpose in life even before a note of music is performed on StringWise and it is this: “La música vive en el aire, y en el aire no tiene fronteras” which, when translated reads: “music lives in the air, and in the air it has no borders”. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows their work, together or individually. But the truism of it all is masterfully delivered in the music itself, which presents a tour de force of knowledge and study of the folk-forms and traditions of the music of the world and then the execution of this in a breathtaking display of virtuosity throughout this duo performance.
The music kicks off with a masterful performance of Duke Ellington’s “Take the “A” Train”, during which Mr Orozco serves notice of his sense of history, coincidentally beginning the recording with a nod to the great stride-piano tradition that predated virtually everything in Jazz. So, you think, it’s a Jazz recording? Well, it seems neither Mr Orozco nor Mr Glem are going to make it that easy to discern as they follow that extraordinary rendition of the Jazz standard with an interpretation of Sting’s “Englishman in New York”. Sting himself might have taken a leaf out of Federico García Lorca’s book of 1930 – literally – Poeta en Nueva York. This is a rite of passage for the musicians (all three of them) and Mr Orozco and Mr Glem bring their unique Venezuelan experience to the interpretation.
Editor’s Pick · Featured Album · César Orozco | Jorge Glem: StringWise
These musicians have left their mark on New York, just as that city has done likewise on them and that experience might take a whole new recording by another American artist. However, this disc gives us an extraordinary feel for the naked emotion of two men making their life in the megalopolis that eclipses everything around it. We get a sense of the nostalgia and the longing for home that an artist must feel in an alien milieu from Lorca to the current musicians, if you will. And it is masterfully told in song by two artists at the height of their powers. Without singing a word, the pianist and the cuatro-master narrate the immigrant’s epic tale. It is full of glinting lights, mysterious depths, expectations, dreams, hopes, doubts, frustrations and joys; of wonder and a passionate longing for identity in an alien country.
And it is in its weaving together of cultural topographies that are worlds apart (as far apart as the Latin-America is from the Europe and the US) becomes in the ultimate analysis, the weaving of a common legend in music. In songs from “Sueño Perfecto” and “Zumba Que Zumba”, and in “After the Love Has Gone” “Lesbia” (the Lesbia of Catullus, no less?) and “Merengue Today” we witness the collision of piano and cuatro – Europe and the US with Venezuela as it were – played by two masters in whose hands, literally, the music rises and falls like the air which knows no frontiers. All of which makes this disc a thing of rare beauty…
Track list – 1: Take the “A” Train; 2: Englishman in New York; 3: Sueño Perfecto; 4: Maracaibera; 5: Zumba Que Zumba; 6: Ese Hastío; 7: After the Love Has Gone; 8: Si Tu No Bailas Conmigo; 9: Merengue Today; 10: Lesbia; 11: Moliendo Café
Personnel – César Orozco: piano and Fender Rhodes; Jorge Glem: Venezuelan cuatro
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 52:56