Pedro Menendez (Contemporaneo: Luna
Wonderfully sensual evocations from South America. Pedro Menendez is a multi-instrumentalist from Argentina who has a fresh ear for blending the sounds of different musics. His brand of world-jazz fusion keeps more than an arm’s length from both the New Age and rock-flavored camps. The jazz elements are most predominant, particularly in his expansive piano sounds.
The title track, which opens the disc, is a stately and majestic theme that seems drawn from the classical school as much as jazz or Latin music. As a pianist Menendez is certainly influenced as much by classical players as by Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson or Vince Guaraldi. “Fuego” is quite fearsome and volcanic, “Canoa” more gently pastoral. “Piazzoleana” is presumably dedicated to the late tango master Astor Piazzolla, though the absence of bandoneon obscures the reference. Each track has its own special magic to offer. The Debussyian “Metamorfosis” is exultant, vivid and way too short.
Menendez’ fellow musicians are all talented and unobtrusive, leaving the forefront to the piano. Gustavo Dominguez is an especially versatile percussionist. Daniel Serale’s mallets contribute sparkling textures to a few tracks. Bassist Alejandro Cavalli is relegated to the background for the most part and could have been used a little more adventurously. Vocalist Mariana Melero only appears on one track, “Canoa”, but her warm, delicate vibrance is a welcome addition.
Pedro Menendez has some very interesting musical visions to share. Let’s hope he mines some more of these gems in the near future. Recommended.
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Track Listing: Luna; Fuego; Arlequin; Piazzoleana; Canoa; Metamorfosis; 1999; Una posibilidad; A-mar; Obstinator; En las ruinas.
Personnel: Menendez, piano, flute, sampler, keyboards, guitar, voice; Gustavo Dominguez, tabla, drums, percussion, Tibetan bells; Alejandro Cavalli, bass; Daniel Serale, vibraphone, xylophone; Mariana Melero, voice on #5.