Latin Jazz has always been the music of inclusion and few embody this aspect of the music better than the Colombian-born Canadian composer and guitarist Roberto López. On Kaleido Strópico, his fifth album, Mr López showcases his exceptional gifts both as a composer and instrumentalist, the latter is especially highlighted by a heightened improvisational imagination. Clearly his Colombian background has much to do with his ability to bring to the table a variety of South American influences. If you are raised in Colombia and open to its culture, as Mr López was, then you could not escape the fact that you were immersed in the sounds of “the land of a thousand rhythms”. (Actually Colombia is known to hold over 1,025 folk rhythms; cumbia and vallenato are only two of those.
As a musician Mr López appears to have not only mastered many – if not most of Colombia’s traditional Caribbean and Afro-Colombian musical song and dance forms. He and his marvelous group give us a fine display of these on the ten tracks of this album. In doing so Mr López and his ensemble run the gamut of Afro-Caribbean and Creole-forms, Jazz, rock and funk in an effervescent and spicy mix of music throughout this repertoire. One of the best examples of this is “Guayaba y limón”, a piece that blurs the boundaries between all of the forms at Mr López’s disposal and says everything about Mr López’s unique style of music. Although much of the music is played in a kind of balanced ensemble setting there is a clear sense of virtuosity in the short soli which adorn the songs – models of freshness and complexity – throughout this recording.
Mr López clearly leads from the front ringing in the changes in mood, structure and tempo, which makes for a constantly interesting programme. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration, individuality and tradition is impressively maintained throughout. The recording, which mixes what appear to be ambient sounds typical of down-home Colombia with the studio performance – especially when Mr López plays the tiple as well as the loudly broadcast trumpet of David Carbonneau and (surprisingly) in the kora played by Zal Cissokho – creates an on-the-ground feeling of being there and in the moment as well, and is a perfect complement to the effervescence of the music itself.
Track list – 1: Sofrito; 2: Willie Boogaloo; 3: A pachanguear; 4: Getsemani; 5: 63; 6: Guayaba y limón; 7: Por la calle; 8: Yo me voy; 9: Mayapo; 10: Cronopios
Personnel – Roberto C. López: guitar, bass, tiple, keyboards, tambora, maracas, llamador and vocals; Sacha Daoud: drums; Kullak Vuiger-Rojas: alegre, congas, timbales, cajón, shekere and vocals; Jairo Gómez: vocals; David Carbonneau: trumpet; Bruno Lamarche: tenor saxophone; Mario Allard: baritone saxophone; Matthieu van Vliet: trombone; Zal Cissokho: kora
Released – 2019
Label – Curura Musique (CUR 05012)
Runtime – 38:17