Carlos Villoslada: Tabanqueando en la Plaza Nina (2010)
The Spanish tinge referred to by pianist Jelly Roll Morton has never been far from jazz, though serious attempts to fuse flamenco and jazz only began with saxophonist Pedro Iturralde and guitarist Paco de Lucia's collaboration Flamenco-Jazz (SABA, 1968). Tenor saxophonist Carlos Villoslada continues this tradition by bringing together jazz melodies and harmonies with flamenco rhythms and voice. For the most part, the music on this recording has a relaxed vibe, with the Cadiz-based quintet visiting soleas, bulerias, tientos and tanguilos with a quietly smoldering passion, led from the front by Villoslada's strong playing.
Despite the absence of guitar the flavor of flamenco permeates these compositions, with vocalist Raul Gálvez supported by Diego Moatoya and Pedro de Chana on palmas, Dani Dominguez' striking, hybrid jazz-flamenco drumming, and veteran Brazilian percussionist, Rubem Dantas. Dantas was responsible for introducing the cajón into flamenco while touring Peru with de Lucia in the 1970s, and his playing is subtly impressionistic and feather-light.
Villoslada displays a highly melodic approach on tenor, and his velvety tone is reminiscent of latter day Stan Getz, particularly on the lovely title track and "Cabopino," though there is plenty of fire in his playing, too. Vocalist Raul Gálvez's contribution to this recording is significant: his powerful, sonorous voice on the atmospheric "La Niña 1565" is all-dominating, though his delivery is, overall, gently seductivenot unlike Diego El Cigala. Bassist Antonio Corrales lends a wonderful bass line to this number, and his playing brings great depth and texture to the music throughout the set.
Gálvez's ability to convey controlled passion and lyricism in the same breath is best heard on the blue solea, "Despues De Tocar," which features a fine solo from pianist Juan Galiardo, played as softly as a lullaby; and on the smoldering "La Casa De Los Balcones," where his delivery captures the tortured soul of the lyrics' love-sick protagonist.
There's a late night blues intimacy to "74 Pesetas De Whiskey," with Gallardo's caressing lyricism on piano setting the tone. Jazz and flamenco fuse on the tanguilo "Al Qutum," with the ease and familiarity of old lovers, and likewise the propulsive "La Luna Curiosa" and the closer "Paseo De Perejil" capture the passion and nuance of both genres.
Iturralde and De Lucia's collaborations of four decades ago were groundbreaking, paving the way for the ensuing fusion of jazz and flamenco, but on this record, dedicated to La Plaza Niña of Huelva and the Andalucian tabancos (where flamenco is sung and played), Villoslada has brought a level of refinement to the fusion rarely heard before. With Tabanqueando en la Plaza Niña, Villoslada, with his outstanding supporting cast, has created a deeply beautiful work of passion and elegance that has the feel of a minor classic.
Track Listing: Tababqueando en la Plaza Niña; Despues de Tocar; Cabopino; L Casa de los Balcones; La Niña 1565; 74 Pesetas de Whiskey; Al Qutum; La Luna Curiosa; Paseo de Perejil.
Personnel: Carlos Villoslada: tenor saxophone; Raul Gálvez: vocals; Juan Galiardo: piano; Antonio Corrales: bass; Dani Dominguez: drums; Rubem Dantas: percussion; Diego Moatoya, Pedro de Chana: palmas.
Record Label: Surfonia