When passion turns into art the effect can be stunning. Saxophonist Mercedes Figueras proves this in her masterful blend of jazz including Latin music, African rhythms and a high-energy dollop of free jazz. What makes it all the more tantalizing is the way in which she and her band scope and enlarge the composition. Figureas plays with great control and direction, but she also breaks loose to turn a tune into a memorable experience.Rainbows For Ramon," an ode to her son, dances in on percussion before the saxophone undulates the catchy melody. This is song of exulting joy ...read more
The Black ButterfliesRainbows for RamonSelf Produced2012Judging by its title alone, some might expect Rainbows for Ramon, the sophomore release by The Black Butterflies, to be a flighty affair that trills off into flowery musical fields fit for skipping unicorns. It is not this (thankfully), even though joyful melodic lines feature prominently on the disc. In this case, the album's cover might better serve those looking to make quick adjudication: painter Ima Montoya's image of a bold, bright rainbow arching over a teeming array of Miró-like critters, bustling in a colorful, attractive tussle ...read more
The Black Butterflies is a Latin free-for-all led by reed multi- instrumentalist Mercedes Figueras, an Argentinean transplanted to New York City. Figueras and band follows up a well- received debut, 1 De Mayo (Self Produced, 2010), with Rainbows for Ramon. Reviewed in capable detail by Dan Bilawsky and Karl Ackermann, Rainbows for Ramon--and, in particular, Figueras' treatment of the Gershwin Brothers' standard--is worth some further elaboration. Musical sincerity is inversely proportional to synthetic production: the more basic, organic, and authentic, the more musically sincere. Figueras' Summertime" is a perfect melding of Latin and Tin Pan Alley in ...read more
The Black Butterflies' debut, 1 De Mayo (Self Produced, 2010), introduced an ensemble that found beauty in brashness and an all-inclusive recipe for musical creation. The group found its way by liberally mixing free jazz, Latin music, blues, John Coltrane-like spiritualism, primal urges and strong rhythmic elements, giving their music a sense of raw immediacy that's lacking in so many of today's shiny, overly-polished bands. The architect of this ensemble is Mercedes Figueras, an Argentinean-born saxophonist who came to New York with nothing more than her saxophones and determination. Over the course of her four-and-a-half-years stateside (and ...read more
When she was scarcely into her twenties, self-taught saxophonist Mercedes Figueras recorded Elefante (Self Produced, 2007) a duo recording with drummer Martin Visconte. From this initial effort, it was clear that Figueras is as fearless as she is creative. She neither tames her instrument nor lets it run wild and in the process has invented a style of her own. Her subsequent group--The Black Butterflies-- emerged in 2010 with 1 De Mayo (Self Produced, 2010) and the collection was full of originality and promise. Most of that original septet returns as part of Figueras' octet line up on Rainbows for ...read more
A delightful whimsy surrounds the room where 1 de Mayo descends like a diaphanous sheet of sound amid its celestial wail. So extraordinary is the musical ensemble fronted by the hypnotic sound of saxophonist Mercedes Figueras; doubly intriguing, when entwined with the ululations and caterwauling ablutions of Tony Larokko's horns. Figueras is one of the most exciting saxophonists today; Enormously talented, and with a voice as brilliantly eccentric as an exotic Amazonian bird--or, in this instance, a very special black butterfly--she is unique among her young contemporaries. Her intonation is sharp and exacting, and she draws the fluidity out of ...read more
The Black Butterflies1 de MayoThe Black Butterflies2010 While this is just the debut release from The Black Butterflies, a group led by 27-year-old saxophonist Mercedes Figueras, veterans would do well to prick up their ears and take note. The Butterflies deftly blend the Latin rhythms of Figueras' native Argentina with free and post-bop noodling and tantalizing natural-world percussive elements, into full, invigorating music that sprouts, twines and flourishes over the 63-minute span of this entirely satisfying album. The title track kicks off the record. It is a relaxed, ...read more
Join our growing community ofwriters, musicians, visual artists and advocates.
One moment, you will be redirected shortly.