Ramon Lopez hails from Spain and resides in Paris, France where he teaches Indian music at the Paris Conservatory and performs in the “National Orchestra du Jazz”. On “Eleven Drums Songs” we are treated to a very comprehensive and entertaining display of technical virtuosity showcasing Lopez’ talents. No, not another egotistical display of chops by a self-absorbed drummer but a very musical endeavor which finds Lopez representing himself as a serious composer. Lopez utilizes an arsenal of percussion instruments in his stylistic synthesis of distinct cross-cultural inventions that are considerably engaging and magnetically appealing.
The opener, “Lucas” emphasizes Lopez’ shrewd utilization of timbre and nuance. “Lucas” is a feast for the ears. While the instruments are not identified anywhere on the CD insert, it is easy to discern that Lopez uses everything but the kitchen sink on this track. Augmented by a rapid-fire bass drum pedal, Lopez crafts a polyrhythmic burner with pinpoint precision and accuracy. Lopez whips his tom toms with articulate determination and the mellow pitch of his tom toms nicely counter-balance the high-end ethno-flute overtones. On “Drummers Remembered” Lopez develops complex rhythmic patterns displaying impeccable chops and cadence. Again, the compositions are quite musical and not one-dimensional. Lopez’ musical sense prevails. His conglomerate of percussion instruments registers complimentary tones that emphasize the big picture. In most instances these compositions preserve the musical spirit and reflect Lopez’ passionate attitude toward the underlying musical nature of “movement”. “Alicante’s Cowbell” is a joyous, upbeat composition, which covers Latin and African rhythms along with the very musical sounding cowbell taking on the roll as traffic cop. Here, Lopez goes for the jugular with amazing coordination and intriguing dialogue among his cavalcade of instruments. “Miracle of Jazz” features a pulsating bass drum, meticulous cymbal work and an instrument that sounds like a toy xylophone. Rich, lucid colors add depth to this pleasant tune, which re-affirms the worldly nature of this recording.
It would have been nice for Leo Records to list all the percussion instruments but that’s a minor complaint. Mr. Lopez’ compositions are entertaining, educational in content and strikingly unique. Lopez does a fine job of fusing genres and styles while dispelling those old rumors that drums are not musical instruments.