Abe Rabade: Playing On Light: 7 Sounding Photos (2006)
Jelly Roll Morton was once quoted as saying that truly authentic jazz had a certain "Spanish tinge" to it. Playing On Light: 7 Sounding Photos, and indeed many of the growing number of new and interesting releases coming from Spain, make that a difficult statement to disprove.
Playing On Light is the fourth release by Abe Rabade, a talented pianist from Galicia, Spain, and his third release heading up a trio. Each of the seven compositions is based on a series of photographs (reproduced in the accompanying booklet) by artists such as Arno Rafael Minkkinen and Paul Caponigro, making this a concept album of sorts.
Rabade's compositions are sprawling and meticulously fleshed out. "Eses" is loaded with what he does best: tight arrangements, unexpected shifts in tempo and texture and rich, broad chord voicings. There's even a hint of Miles' "So What" modality as Rabade subtly evokes the past while projecting an original and highly personal sound. "Nomadas" is haunting and dark, with a lovely statement of the melody and solo by bassist Paco Charlin. Charlin and Rabade even go electric on "Inner Battle," creating a subtle but assertive Latin groove with more than a hint of dynamic contrast.
"Avalancha" is a restless up-tempo swing number that features a shredding but thoughtful solo from Rabade and a featured spot for drummer Bruno Pedroso. But one of the most stunning tracks comes at the very end. "Bright Flow" begins and ends with solo piano, bookending a dynamic performance from the trio which seemlessly bounces back and forth between 3/4 and 5/4 timea very fitting conclusion to a significant collection of fine songcraft and carefully honed interplay among all three musicians.
Rabade is every bit as accomplished a composer as he is a pianist, and Playing On Light shows how seamlessly his talents blend together to create some fine music. This disc may be hard to find, but it's definitely worth the effort.
Track Listing: Eses; Zero; Inner Battle; Nomadas; Avalancha; Protection; Bright Flow.
Personnel: Abe Rabade: piano, electric piano (3); Paco Charlin: acoustic and electric bass (3); Bruno Pedroso: drums.