A fierce energy leaps out of the opening notes of Mama Ina, the exquisitely-crafted debut album by the prodigiously-gifted bassist Gastón Joya. It is the song after which the album gets its title and Mr Joya hasn’t even begun to express his extraordinary genius. For that one has to wait for “No Te Empeñes Más” and soon after, “El Día Que Me Quieras” on both of which the young bassist picks up his magnificent sounding contrabass. Primary colours abound in the beautiful woody textures with rhythms and phrasing that are pristine, precise and alert that strips the gravitas of the music down to an almost nude depth and transparency of texture. Through it all Mr Joya keeps the music moving with balletic grace and a vividness that spotlights the musical canvas of each of the songs in a mighty, painterly fashion taking us to another world.
Editor’s Pick · Featured Album · Gastón Joya: Mama Ina
“Mama Ina” not only displays the kind of edge-of-the-seat virtuosity that we are soon to discover (if we had not witnessed this from Mr Joya already from his work with superstars such as Chucho Valdés and Harold López-Nussa) takes an elegiac turn immediately after the elegant work by drummer Marcos Morales and the beautifully forlorn guitar work by Man Son Fong. But the incandescent work by the bassist moves into high-gear immediately thereafter. Mr Joya’s playing just seems to leap along from one high point to the next with an apparently effortless distinction between the many filigree lines that he seems to create from one solo to the next. He is also a master of mood and atmosphere, with the ability to coordinate colour and structure to a rare degree.
Mr Joya’s accompanying musicians – pianist Adrián Esteves, drummer Marcos Morales, guitarist Nam Son Fong and trumpeter Julito Padrón also bring something special to this music. But the bassist is the star. To my mind it is the precision of his attack and the articulation of his pizzicato that sets him apart as he brings a juicy brilliance to this music. Moreover, as Mr Joya moves on from one chart to the next he seems to grow in stature with a virtuosity that enables him to tackle this programme with some of the most riveting and volcanic display of playing on the contrabass one might hope to listen to from someone so young and relatively inexperienced. In sheer colour and variety, in the depth of its characterisation and the exceptional range and refinement of his bass playing Mr Joya imparts a power and grandeur to every song on this excellent record.
Track list – 1: Mama Ina; 2: No Te Empeñes Más; 3: El Día Que Me Quieras; 4: La Gitana; 5: Ask Me; 6: Impori; 7: Venga la Esperanza; 8: Paola y Lila; 9: La Sitiera
Personnel – Gastón Joya: contrabass and electric basses, and voice; Adrián Esteves: piano; Marcos Morales: drums; Nam Son Fong : guitars; Julito Padrón: trumpet
Released – 2018
Label – UNICORNIO Producciones Abdala S.A.
Runtime – 50:07