DAVID VIRELLES AND THE CONTINUUM PROJECT LIVE AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD
JANUARY 29 – FEBRUARY 3RD, 2012
PERFORMANCE REVIEW BY NEW YORK CO-EDITOR, TOMAS PEÑA
“This language affords people to play in such a way where they are forced to play ideas rather than play licks and patterns … because the traditional harmonic stuff from the major/minor language is not there … so you have to create more in the moment, really fresh ideas in the moment, there’s no formulas that you can apply in the moment. Playing formulas and stuff is one thing but that is not playing a musical idea.”
– Henry Threadgill
From the lips of Henry Threadgill to the ears of David Virelles, the Continuum project is the expression of everything that has made David Virelles the pianist, composer and wunderkind he is today.
In 2009 Virelles was awarded a grant from the Canadian Council of the Arts to study composition under Henry Threadgill, who is widely regarded as one of the most imaginative jazz composers of today. The award compelled Virelles to step out of his comfort zone and move to New York, where he still resides.
Continuum (Pi Records, 2012) is Virelles’ second recording as leader and his most ambitious and celebrated to date. The music stems from a trip to Cuba in 2011, where Virelles examined and absorbed Cuban folkloric and its variants as well as Afro Cuban rituals that include music, dance, storytelling, poetry, divination and magic. In the end he stripped his findings down to their essence and created a language all his own.
With the language in hand, Virelles formed the Continuum project: Roman Diaz AKA the Cuban connection, a master percussionist, storyteller, poet and soothsayer – Andrew Cyrille AKA the Haitian connection and one of the most prominent drummers in the world of avant-garde jazz – bassist Ben Street, who plays with an unusual and finely tuned balance, harmonic subtleness and rhythmic complexity and invited guests saxophonist Roman Filiú and Henry Threadgill.
At the Vanguard, the Continuum project took the audience on a journey from Africa to the Caribbean basin and beyond. The music was a fresh, elusive and a bold meditation on the power of Afro Cuban folkloric traditions. It conjured up images of slave ships, Sundays at Congo Square, street corner rumbas, Yoruba chants, poetry slams and brought to mind Henry Dumas’ short story, The Afro Horn, where a musician by the name of Probe wields a saxophone that contains magical powers. The majority of the repertoire was from Continuum (the recording), though it was difficult to tell as there was little in the way of introductions, explanations or interaction with the audience.
In the audience was reed player and mentor Jane Bunnett, trumpeter Larry Cramer and vocalist Venissa Santi. Kudos to NEA Jazz Master and Vanguard owner Lorraine Gordon for maintaining the Vanguard’s long-standing tradition of presenting new talent in an atmosphere where artistic freedom prevails.
David Virelles was recently named one of four young pianists on the rise by the New York Times. Since he arrived in New York, he has quickly become one of the most in-demand pianists, working in the bands of Steve Coleman, Chris Potter, Ravi Coltrane, Mark Turner, Henry Threadgill and Tomasz Stanko among others. David Virelles is a name to watch.
DAVID VIRELLES – MOTION (JUSTIN TIME, 2007)
ROMAN FILIU – MUSAE (DAFNISON MUSIC, 2012)
IN A SIMILAR VEIN
HENRY THREADGILL – EVERYBODYS MOUTHS A BOOK (PI RECORDINGS, 2001)
FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT – AFRO HORN MX (AACE RECORDS, 2012)
LISTEN TO DAVID VIRELLES CONTINUUM IN CONCERT ON NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
DAVID VIRELLES ON THE WEB: www.davidvirelles.com