Negroni’s Trio is somewhat unique among piano trios. Bring culturally informed ideas not only by Afri-Caribbean music, but also – in its being influenced by Spanish dance and music forms and therefore by Moorish modes – the music by the genetically informed Puerto Rican Negronis’ is characterised by vivid percussion colouring. You will feel it almost immediately in the overarching rhythmic character of the music on Acústico with the seemingly dominant voice of Nomar Negroni’s drumming. Of course, you will feel it also in José Ramón Negroni’s pianism.
The pianist’s hands are like precision lapidary tools. Thus his soli are eloquently ornamented. Delicate – and sometimes crashing – chords with the left hand provoke ululating dyads and triads with his right hand as he seems to move easily between Lydian and Phrygian modes. However, music on his instrument of choice is also embellished with much more in the form of melodic and harmonic content. Despite the fact that his attack and practiced dynamics appears more percussive than many other pianist playing today it’s clear that his technique and approach has been guided by his study of classical music.
Naturally the pianism of José Ramón would be best described in music he has composed – which makes up almost the entire repertoire of Acústico. José Ramón appears to be a gifted storyteller. His music is narrative. But he also seems to write not only with pen on staved paper, but also with brush on canvas. And so, while melodies unfold like charming tales, once the layers of harmony are added, we are faced with moving pictures which give this music a cinematic quality.
Each song is a vivid miniature, made just so by the preponderance of breathtaking rhythmic content expressed not only by José Ramón, but also quite brilliantly by the drummer Nomar. All of this is superbly embroidered by a superb performance by bassist Josh Allen, who’s playing swells with a deep and rumbling gravitas.
You don’t have to wait for “Monica’s Drums” and the obvious reference to percussion to enjoy this fine music. The visceral energy begins with the opening bars of “Let’s Go Camping” itself where the music’s machismo bursts forth right out of the opening bars of the drummer’s introduction. There are three standards on this recording and each of the works is wonderfully interpreted. Noro Morales’ exquisite portrait “María Cervantes” would appear to have been written just for this group. Listening to it played by Negroni’s Trio is like discovering the ephemeral beauty of the melody anew.
Likewise the arrangement for “I Hear a Rhapsody” makes for a rhythmic freshness to the work that I have not experienced before. And Bud Powell’s iconic piece “Tempis Fugit” is also examined afresh; the song’s pacing and tempo is superbly in keeping with its character especially in the context of how its composer’s life was so tragically cut short.
This is very possibly Negroni’s Trio’s best and most fulfilling recording to date.
Track list – 1: Let’s Go Camping; 2: AIR; 3: I Remember You; 4: Puerta del Sol; 5: María Cervantes; 6: No Me Voy de Aquí; 7: Cantando; 8: Cycles; 9: I Hear a Rhapsody; 10: Tempus Fugit; 11: Monica’s Drums
Personnel – José Ramón Negroni: piano; Josh Allen: contrabass; Nomar Negroni: drums
Released – 2019
Label – Sony Music | Latin (19075994202)
Runtime – 47:33