Sophomore albums for artists can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that name recognition from the first album helps establish the artist, and is instrumental in propelling sales for that second effort. The curse is the challenge is working up to at least the level of the debut album. More difficult is the artist had the luxury of years to garner the songs and ideas for the first album, but any subsequent albums, that time is vastly shortened.
Revueltas refuses to fall prey to those obstacles. Her playing bears an increased confidence with sheer intensity from start with the spiraling “The Peacocks” with its moments of delicateness, to the last piece, “Nardis”, arranged with exotic Eastern flair. Play closely to her intro in Ellington’s “Fleurette Africain”, where she has the piano sounding like drops of water falling.
Sadly, this was Billy Higgins’ last recording, as he passed away unexpectantly shortly after this recording session. His military drum patterns are played without falling into temptation to excess on Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus,” and his earthen beat on “Fleurette Africain” set the tone, working wonders around on Revuelta’s solo.
The triangle of the trio, bassist Robert Miranda, perked ears whenever he bowed the bass. He sets an austere mood on Bill Evans and Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green,” while she has the piano sounding harp like, placing seconds of discordance that fit well within the thematic groove. On “Nardis”, Miranda’s bowing makes the bass sound as if it were weeping.
This album, like the state of jazz exploration today, goes beyond being an American improvisional art form, integrating it with the diversity of musical cultures of the world. Overall, Revueltas pushes to branch out on a limb compared to her debut album, and able to meet the challenge.