Bernardo Padron Group: Tales of La Juana (2007)
Bernardo Padron takes the folk music of his native Venezuela and places it in a contemporary jazz setting. His compositions thus have an innate roots feel and are easy on the ear because they're transposed into that genre. Most of the music on Tales falls within this category.
Padron, who wrote all the compositions, infuses each one with a catchy melody. His intonation on the saxophone is warm and endearing, and given the audience he is targeting, a magnet for his listeners. "Orinoco sets the approach as it chimes in on Alan Hetherington's maracas. Padron captures the imagination with his deep phrasing and melodic incursions. Pianist Marilyn Lerner and marimba player Mark Duggan extend the feeling, but their texture is lighter, leaving it to Padron to add the final emphasisand he fires off some hard phrases in a welcome tangent from what has passed.
To its greater credit, the band can chomp down and come up with some exciting improvisations that call for a stronger leap into jazz harmonies. Padron probes the melody on "Waiku before he forges inventive harmonic shifts with a muscular tone and draws in a propulsive, yet flexed Lerner, whose rippling run is creative and compact. "El Jabillo is another delight. Jason Haynes lets loose bent notes on the electric guitar; Padron blows up a storm, leaving room for them to breathe and throb, and then gets into the thick with some trenchant work. This is what really ticks, and though it does not happen often enough here, it shows that Padron and the band can go beyond the structure of the contemporary looking glass and be truly forceful.
Track Listing: Orinoco; Still Unheard; La Juanga; El Araguaney; Waiku; Quirpa; El Jabillo; Polo; Los Llanos.
Personnel: Bernardo Padron: tenor and soprano saxes, flute; Marilyn Lerner: piano and accordion; Andrew Downing: acoustic bass; Mark Duggan: marimba and percussion; Alan Hetherington: drums and maracas; Justin Haynes: electric guitar.
Record Label: Self Produced