Jesús Hernández and Alfonso Cid (one half of New Bojaira – the others being bassist Tim Ferguson and drummer Mark Holen) are not – and will not – be the last Spaniards to be drawn in the interminable wake of Federico García Lorca who was seduced by the irresistible and visceral energy of Jazz. If Lorca celebrated his journey with the fascinating volume when bebop was being born in the hands of Bird, Dizzy and Monk with his Poeta en Nueva York, posthumously published in (1940).
Jazz, after all, came from a similar bottomless place filled with diabolical harmonic and rhythmic leaps as the duende of Lorca’s poetry. But Lorca was not the only one to be drawn to the dark and mysterious place that produced such a fascinating collision in art. Spain – intrinsically rooted in the African/Moorish traditions – has produced a long line of artists whose arc of creativity has blazed a familiar personal and improvisational trail not dissimilar to the meteoric path of Jazz. The great pianist Chano Domínguez comes to mind easily as does the legendary guitarist Paco de Lucía.
Not far behind, in the colourful wake of this tradition, come the musicians of New Bojaira with their magnificent music in Zorongo Blu. If you have a visceral reaction to this repertoire you would not be alone for, like much of the music of artists like Mr Chano Domínguez and Paco de Lucía, it is cast in lapidary perfection that almost transcends the phrenic and enters the realm of the physical. Much of this is owed to the sharp attack of Mr Hernández’s pianism and – perhaps more so – to the rapturous arabesques of Alfonso Cid’s vocals, together with the vocals of Sergio Gómez “El Colorao” (when he is called upon to do so). And make no mistake the richly mysterious mood of Spanish folk forms of flamenco, Soleá Blues, Bulería and Rumba are beautifully sustained in the virile bass lines of Tim Ferguson and thunderous drum colouring of Mark Holen.
It bears mention that Randy Brecker is magnificent on “El Demonio Llama a Mi Puerta” and the almost ubiquitous Saxophones of Peter Brainin makes for wholly natural feeling on the climaxes and sudden changes of the music on which he plays. But it is the entire repertoire that is front and centre here. This is music that is vividly atmospheric and creates a genuine sense of supernatural danger, a mood which culminates in the serene but spooky “Zorongo Blu”. On a more seductive note comes the superb rendition of Thelonious Monk’s signature “’Round Midnight”, a luxurious slow and mesmerising version that successfully captivates the listener completely. While the monumental Bulería, “Vente Pa’ Broadway” is a fitting dénouement to an album that is New Bojaira’s classic celebration of the collision of all that is Moorish and Arabic in Spanish music with all that is African and American in Blues and Jazz.
Track list – 1: El Demonio Llama a Mi Puerta (Soleá Blues); 2: Jaleos del Celoso Extremeño; 3: La Africana (Guajira); 4: Green Room; 5: Farruca de Argel; 6: ’Round Midnight; 7: Zorongo Blu (Zorongo por Seguiriya); 8: Ese Meneo (Tanguillo); 9: No Encuentro Tu Pasión (Rumba); 10: Vente Pa’ Broadway (Bulería)
Personnel – Jesús Hernández: piano; Tim Ferguson: contrabass; Mark Holen: drums, tambourin and darbuka (7); Alfonso Cid: vocals, flute and hand-clapping; Peter Brainin: soprano saxophone (1, 2) and tenor saxophone (3, 4, 6); Randy Brecker: flugelhorn (1); Sergio Gómez “El Colorao”: vocals (5); María de los Ángeles: bailaora
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 57:28