How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Guitarist Bob Ave's long-awaited follow-up to the progressive and perhaps unprecedented fusion of gongs, world music and jazz on Translating The Gongs (Taomusic, 2006), is still framed on indigenous percussion and gongs, but highlights his artistry, using the 14-stringed octavina guitar. Armed with formidable chops, Aves also exudes finesse via his deft phrasings, tinted with Spanish romanticism and a world-jazz set of frameworks, including buoyant percussion that occasionally gestures a tribal-like aura.
The guitarist seamlessly shapes the modalities of indigenous Filipino folk into a contemporary jazz outlook. His fluent lines, curvy notes, and linear upsurges radiantly coalesce with saxophonist Dix Lucero's jazzy articulations amid melodically shaped unison choruses. On "Renewal," Sannida Tato's mystical chant launches an expansive, soundscape. Yet "Cross Country" progresses as a straightforward backbeat and pumping bass patterns, eliciting a jazz- funk undercurrent, shaded with zesty choruses by the frontline. In other passages, the musicians improvise atop airy environs, as Aves employs pulsating gongs across a sweeping medium tempo heartbeat with sinuous soloing and concise chord voicings. He also builds a bit of tension and injects a slight edge into the proceedings.
"Chill Out Gongs" is a pensive ballad, encircled by pianist Nikko River's gentle touch and Aves' multicolored cymbals and gongs treatments. Here, the guitarist projects warmth, evolving matters into a slightly up-tempo framework, underscored with searching and yearning sentiment as Lucero's soft sax parts add additional contrasts. This piece could easily serve as a backdrop for a cinematic documentary on deforestation, for example. Overall, Aves' sleek and sophisticated silhouettes are elevated by the gorgeous tonal qualities of his octavina guitar, coupled with hard-hitting improvisations that amalgamate the core musical components of his native land.
Track Listing: Gongs Can Swing; Renewal; Cross Country; Until It’s Asian; Mixed
Accents; Small Steps; The Local Brew; Opening; Chill Out Gongs.
Personnel: Bob Aves: octavina guitar, synth programs; Dix Lucero: soprano and
tenor saxophones; Nikko Rivera: piano, electric piano; Sannida Tato:
chant (2); Reni Angeles: piano solo (3).