It is entirely within the realm of possibility that, eyes shut; the soprano saxophone of Laura Andrea Leguía is engaged in an interminable dance with the guitar of Yuri Juarez as the Afro-Peruvian music of the warm Pacific Coast beckons with exquisite seduction. From the dreamy heat of the Vals Criollo to the aching beauty of the Landó and the brisk beauty of the Festejo and the swagger of the Polca Criollo the two instruments seem breathtakingly entwined as the gorgeous music of Saxofón Criollo unfolds. Leguía’s extraordinary technique and style shimmers with singular splendour. Her sliding cadences evoke the poetic vocalastics of the legendary Chabuca Grande. This is especially true as Leguía explores the middle and lower registers of the soprano saxophone. Leguía has a genius for soft timbres and a spectacular range of colours and shades. This is most deeply felt in the hypnotic instrumental version of her Leguía’s composition “Eva” towards the end of the record. Adding to the warmth and colour is guitarist Yuri Juarez who with deft flourishes of fingers and ingenious harmonics contributes much to the music’s artistry, while bassist Pablo Menares also adds subtle shades with wonderful melodic inventions and ingenious double stops.
But there is much more to this magnificent album than just “Eva”. The lilting “Mariposas” opens proceedings with a deeply felt, beautiful ache of in the very best tradition of a Vals Criollo. Interestingly the mood changes dramatically throughout the album; from the pungent playfulness of “Puerto Pimentel” to the languid glow of “Tarde o Temprano”. Throughout the album melodies are painted onto a never-ending sonic canvas with exquisite grace and beauty. Afro-Peruvian motifs are explored with astute sharpness and great maturity. Notes bend and melt into a vortex, filled, in return with masterful harmonies that shiver and swing with a rhythmic swagger that contains the whisper of pride of the music`s African roots, entwined with the heat and dust raised at a Spanish fiesta.
Laura Andrea Leguía has chosen her musicians with sublime taste and great passionate conviction. Yuri Juarez is a master of all things Afro-Peruvian and his extraordinary dynamic and expression is felt long after the notes of his guitar fade away. Cellist, Marco Lucioni brings forlorn beauty to “Tarde o Temprano”. And there is a certain majesty to the tortured sighs of “Puente de los Suspiros”. Just as Juarez shapes the harmonies with outstanding rapport with Leguía so does the bassist, Pablo Menares. His gentle attack is majestic as it is ingeniously melodic. Menares never goes to the same place twice. As a result he brings great surprise to the music with murmuring gentility.
This is a superb album, whose beauty will not diminish, but rather grow upon repeated listening that leads to new and wondrous musical discovery.
Tracks: Mariposas; Puerto Pimentel; Puente de los Suspiros; Eva; Tarde o Temprano; Estrellita Del Sur; Mal Paso; Lejos; Eva (Instrumental Version); Al Otro Lado.
Personnel: Laura Andrea Leguía: soprano saxophone, voice; Yuri Juarez: guitar; Luis Antonio Vilchez: cajón; Pablo Menares: contrabass (1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10); Ronald Díaz: segunda guitar (1, 3, 6, 7); José Villalobos Cavero: cajón (4); Waltinho Casanova: cajón (4); Aldo Borjas: castañuellas (1); Marco Lucioni: cello (5).
Label: Saponegro Records | Release date: November 2011