Listening to Abraham Gomez-Delgado’s recent and ongoing repertoire with Zemog El Gallo Bueno, Yo You Me Tú one important aspect of it is seared into the memory. Gomez-Delgado knows no limits to his explorations. Both Vol. 1 The Lost Album and the un-named Volume 2 are dazzling recitals by a musician known to be a multi-instrumentalist, painter and sculptor. However, one of his most important talents is the fact that he is a deep, thinking-man’s musician. But intellect alone does not make for the music of surprise. In Gomez-Delgado’s case intuition of the deepest kind is at play here. His work is assembled, if you like, and held aloft by this, the great pillar of musical architecture. Thus if one’s reflexive default at the prospect of a Latin-Jazz recording – even an exquisitely crafted one by any contemporary musician – is one of dispassionate or nonchalant resistance, this recording is as likely to turn your ears inside out.
Along the way, in a deftly balanced presentation of strikingly contrasting essays, Gomez-Delgado offers brazen, exquisitely turned, and buoyant readings of sui generis Puerto-Rican forms of music. Various idioms – from Bomba and Plena and wholly improvised music – collide and trip along in a manner that even the most adventurous musicians seem reluctant to pursue and this road less travelled is one that Abraham Gomez-Delgado takes in his music. All of the song and dance forms on both volumes are played by Gomez-Delgado’s large ensemble with reflective quality that Gomez-Delgado himself embodies. This is the iconoclasm that arises from musical traditions that are deeply affected by social, political and cultural issues. When these aspects of his background are transformed into music, however, magical things emerge not only in the words and music, but in the performance of them by the musicians.
Abraham Gomez-Delgado leads the way with vocals that effortlessly alight on the kinds of malleable Zappa-like conceits enjoyed habitually in that composer’s later works. Meets the Mothers of Prevention comes to mind. Great vocal instrument aside the music is largely down to the judicious alchemy of Gomez-Delgado’s perception of how architecture, local colour and socio-political awareness can collide to mesmerising effect. Zemog Dm Plena – from Disc 1 – is a case in point. Inexorable momentum here is born of fervent authority of combined effects without gratuitous excess. Elsewhere – on Hypnótico on Disc 2 – Gomez-Delgado’s performance will persuade you that his music is born of plumbing the depths of technique and emotion. And there are numerous examples of this from the trumpet of Taylor Ho-Bynum and other members of this ensemble.
But it’s the gripping drama and involvement in the well-heeled forms of Bomba, Plena, Jazz and improvised music that remind one in his most durable vocal and instrumental legacy on numerous albums by musicians in the history of Puerto-Rico. Abraham Gomez-Delgado’s captivating direction and intensity, complete with almost hypnotic abandon, is sometimes a touch more measured in Gomez-Delgado’s hands but no less effectively communicated. This is an ambitious album and it shows in the intensely chiselled harmonic progressions that inform the pieces throughout this wonderful repertoire. I think that this is an album that herald’s the coming of a new age of Latin-Jazz (for want of a better term). It might not please Tito Puente or any of the earlier icons of Afro-Caribbean idioms that have informed jazz since its inception but they will have no choice. Abraham Gomez-Delgado and his unique voice is here to stay.
Track List: Volume 1 – The Lost Album – Remote Control; Periodico; Braille For The Colorblind; Zemog D minor Plena; Contenido Adentro; Bomba Sin Plena; Teta y Tiro; Plena Sawtooth; Lado Elado. Volume 2 – Jugamos With Humanos – Calma Tus Colores; Genealogico; Un Poncho Para Los Dos; Hipnotico; Contemplando; AEIOU; Alvaro, Bajo y Maquina; Entero; Piñata; Camisa; Hueco.
Personnel: Volume 1 – Abraham Gomez-Delgado: Composer, Voice, Guitar, Percussion; Magdalena Gomez: Lyrics on Bomba Sin Plena, Teta yTiro; Alvaro Benavides: Musical Director, Bass, Coro; Ted Nordlander: Guitar; Reinaldo DeJesus: Congas, Bongo, Guiro, Maracas, Coro; Chris Stromquist: Drum Set; Mat Bauder: Saxophones; Alex Weiss: Saxophones; Taylor Ho Bynum: Brass; Jorge Castro: Saxophones, Flute; Aaron Halva: Tres; Roberto Rosario, Cecilia Molinari: Coros. Volume. 2 – Abraham Gomez-Delgado: Composer, Voice, Guitar, Percussion; Juancho Herrera: Guitar; Bryan Vargas: Guitar; Reinaldo DeJesus: Congas, Bongo, Guiro, Maracas, Coro; Pablo Bencid: Drum Set; Mat Bauder: Saxophones, Horn Arrangements; Ben Willis: Bass; Alvaro Benavides: Bass on Alvaro, Bajo y Maquina
About Abraham Gomez-Delgado
Abraham Gomez-Delgado is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and performance artist born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Bandleader Abraham Gomez-Delgado, of Peruvian descent, left his native Puerto Rico as a child and relocated to the US. He leads the experimental Latin music group Zemog el Gallo Bueno as well as co-leads the avant-latin jazz big band Positive Catastrophe and has a Performance Art group under the name Eje. Read more…