Carlos Averhoff Jr.: iQba – Jazz Meets Cuban Timba

Carlos Averhoff Jr. has lineage. The son of the incomparable Carlos Averhoff Sr. better known as “Carlos Averhoff Sax”, Mr Averhoff Jr. is also a tenor saxophone player, like his father.

The younger Mr Averhoff is not as well-known as he ought to be. He plays with a kind of languid ease that is often less aggressive than his contemporaries, but when he cuts loose one is immediately aware of his rhythmic attack and flying-fingered virtuosity. What makes his playing a particular delight, however, is the quiet roar and almost cold crackling fire of his playing, which hover in the blue part of the flame. Often he appears to skip and roll over his phrases that comprise dancing, leaping notes that seem to fly off the paper that they could be written on.

Carlos Averhoff Jr: iQba - Jazz Meets Cuban Timba
Carlos Averhoff Jr: iQba – Jazz Meets Cuban Timba

The tenor saxophonist also has developed a somewhat whimsical habit of naming his records always beginning their titles with a lower-case “I”. His last one was iResi and the 2018 recording is iQba. This whimsy is rarely elaborated in the music, which is direct, without any kind of posturising and which unfolds with uncommon delicacy. Mr Averhoff Jr. eschews relentless torrents of notes, honking riffs, a biting attack. His trademark is a kind of “round sound”, lithe and elegant as well as quiet and swinging. Plus there’s the tantalising asymmetry of his lines, which often set forth in wrong-footed directions and are replete with unexpected turnarounds, but which always land exactly right, with their own fascinating rhythm.

That rhythm on iQba – Jazz Meets Cuban Timba lands exactly where he proposes this music to move in tumbling grooves. Mr Averhoff Jr. takes apart well-known standards such as “I Fall in Love too Easily” and “What’s New” with impressive invention. The focus is, of course, “timba” that is a mélange of Cuban music and dance forms set aflame by the wickedly sharp accents that come from African-American funk – and of course – the spiced up stew of music of El Barrio in New York called “salsa” which also melded those Cuban forms but threw in a hot-pot of invented American dance rhythms as well.

Mr Averhoff Jr. takes a more adventurous approach to the music and melds all of this in with the warmth and caress of his lyricism. He plays much of the music – a magnificently chosen repertoire that also mixes some of his work as well as a few rare Jazz gems such as Wayne Shorter’s “Yes Or No” with Jazz classics such as Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia” and the magnificent Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge”. The latter might actually be more than just a casual doffing of the proverbial hat to a mentor of the tenor saxophone.

The band that Mr Averhoff Jr. has assembled for this project deserves special mention. Not only do the musicians play outside their comfort zones – the trumpeter Alexis Baró, for instance tempers his raging fire with a gentle lyricism – but others get to display their mighty prismatic chops. Pianist Rolando Luna comes with a reputation of being a fearsome virtuoso in the classical realm and not surprisingly he brings a great deal of gentility to this very different idiom. Of course bassist Néstor del Prado and drummer Oliver Valdés are master craftsmen who also deserve to have their own places in the sun. There is a time for everything (and everyone) to shine, of course and that time is now, on this superb disc by Carlos Averhoff Jr.

Track list – 1: Yes or No; 2: Raquel; 3: I Fall in Love Too Easily; 4: It Could Happen to You; 5: Paz en Mi Cancion; 6: Bolivia; 7: Inner Urge; 8: What’s New

Personnel – Carlos Averhoff Jr: tenor saxophone; Alexis Baró: trumpet; Rolando Luna: piano; Néstor del Prado: bass; Oliver Valdés: drums

Released – 2018
Label – Inner Circle Music
Runtime – 47:27

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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