To Gabriel Espinosa the Mexican-born bassist-turned-vocalist the essence of emotion is nothing if it cannot be transmigrated across the musical topographies that separate North and South America, which are, in any case unified by the Africa of Jazz. That is, at least what has always informed his suave bass-playing throughout his musical career. However, bridging the gap that separates Burt Bacharach and Armando Manzanero required musical architecture of quite another challenging sort. And that’s where his long Zoho Music partnership with Hendrik Meurkens and a relatively new one with the vocal radiance of Tierney Sutton.
The resulting performance – and much more – is captured on the simply entitled recording, Songs of Bacharach and Manzanero, which, if you were merely holding it in your hand would certainly not do justice to the music inside. But then you flip the jewel case on its back and find a stellar cast of musicians: pianist Misha Tsiganov, drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, trumpeter Jim Seeley, bassist Joe Martin (what can’t Martin do?!), and several more including one that deserves a lot more attention and that is flutist Itai Kriss. It is important to note the instrumentalists up front because the symphonic sound on the disc is all due to them.
For the vocal colour there can be no doubting the superb performances by both Gabriel Espinosa and Tierney Sutton. Although the music is divided between English and Spanish, with clever sequencing of the songs on the album it is never an issue. Gabriel Espinosa seems to draw on the essence of the Mexican corrido – ballad-type of song or poem – for his renditions of Manzanero’s highly prized songs. As for Tierney Sutton things are slightly different because Bacharach’s repertoire here encompasses ballads, show tunes and film-themes. All of which Sutton funnels through her pristine soprano, and with ‘pipes’ that are the very definition of ‘poetry’ itself.
Between Gabriel Espinosa and Tierney Sutton, then this music soars raising the art of Bacharach and Manzanero to The Divine; with not a little help from their friends, of course. For instance, wherever there is Hendrik Meurkens, even the mundane can become poetic. How much more then when his genius is poured into the ballad? Jim Seeley’s transcendent horn-playing transforms Bacharach and Manzanero similarly. Misha Tsiganov is unmatched throughout. And Mauricio Zottarelli proves yet again that he is a musicians’ musician, who just happens to sit behind a drumset.
Burt Bacharach and Armando Manzanero may not have needed any additional proof of their legendary status as songwriters, but thank heavens for Gabriel Espinosa and Tierney Sutton, who bring their marvelous music to life like you’ve not really heard it before.
Track List: 1: Adoro; (They Long to Be) Close to You; 3: Como Yo Te Ame; 4: The Look of Love; 5: Esta Tarde Vi Llover; 6: What the World Needs Now; 7: Somos Novios; 8: Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head; 9: Cuando Estoy Contigo; 10: Alfie.
Personnel: Gabriel Espinosa: vocals (1, 3, 5, 7, 9), electric bass (1, 8, 9); Tierney Sutton: vocals (2, 4, 6, 8, 10); Misha Tsiganov: piano, Fender Rhodes; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums, percussion; Jim Seeley: trumpet, flugelhorn (4, 7); Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica (3, 5, 8, 10); Gustavo Amarante: electric bass (2, 3, 4, 7); Joe Martin: acoustic bass (5, 6, 10); Rubens De La Corte: acoustic guitar (7, 9); Itai Kriss: flute (2); Jonathan Gomez: bongos (5, 9).