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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Luis Lascano: Some Trips

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Luis Lascano may call New York home now, but his music still speaks strongly of his Argentinian origins. On this debut, the bassist delivers six enchanting modern jazz numbers delivered with strong South American accents. Some Trips opens on “El Mandril," a number that lives at the intersection of elegance and allure. Violinist Sergio Reyes and multi-reedist Sam Sadigursky have starring roles here, and both personify those aforementioned traits. Things then take a turn toward the mournful as a downcast arco line, backed by the deep thud of a drum, ushers in “El Arlequin." Natalia Bernal's Spanish ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ivan Renta: Take Off - A Musical Odyssey

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There is a time honored tradition in jazz of coming up as a sideman, earning as well as learning, paying some dues, and then moving on to a solo project. Saxophonist Ivan Renta has been doing just that. With an extensive formal music education, a premier session man and after years in the horn section of major salsa and Latin Jazz bands -notably that of Eddie Palmieri -he has released his first record as leader, Take Off -A Musical Odyssey . From the opening of “Take Off," Renta displays a diversified technical prowess in his tone, that all-encompassing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brenda Hopkins Miranda: Aeropiano

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The aphorism that art imitates life is appropriate in describing pianist Brenda Hopkins Miranda. A consummate traveler and beneficiary of a bilingual and bicultural environment, her sense of purpose is to genuinely exploit the piano as a personal extension to convey melodious concepts with deft imagery and drama. Aeropiano is a passage through myriad influences and experiences leading to destinations both real and imagined, where the key is to listen. The title track is introduced by bomba drums courtesy of Tambores Calientes, a hard driving Puerto Rican folkloric ensemble which lays a beat for the percussive piano. Hopkins ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Matthew Sheens: Untranslatable

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With his impressive debut Every Eight Seconds (Self Produced, 2012) garnering universally positive reviews, Australian-born, New York-based pianist Matthew Sheens returns with an even meatier, juicier follow-up. Every Eight Seconds introduced an original composer, one whose melodic and rhythmic ideas championed narrative over virtuosity. There's perhaps more of Sheens the Downbeat poll-winning pianist this time out but significantly Untranslatable ups the ante compositionally, with the Yanni Burton String Quartet leaving an indelible stamp on a third of the tracks. This isn't jazz with strings either, for Sheens' sophisticated string arrangements for two violins, viola, cello and double bass ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell: Imagine

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Bill O'Connell's version of the standard “Willow Weep For Me" is one of those rare items: playing totally against type as a Latin burner with that classic, mesmerizing two-chord piano vamp, the only thing missing would be someone actually trying to sing this lament amidst the happy sprawl of players and arrangement O'Connell's dished up. Unlike other gestures into Latin-land that sprout from tune to tune with other jazz musicians, what makes Imagine notable is the combination of writing with strong solos, song and solo, one after the other. And then there's the group vibe. One might recall ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Miguel Zenon: Identities Are Changeable

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It would simply be enough to just hear Miguel Zenón's saxophone; its fluid, darting, humming bird-like maneuvers, soulful and piercing. Yet as one of the most distinctive altos in jazz, the Grammy nominated and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow is also a gifted composer who continues to deliver insights into his culture as vividly expressed in 2011's Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook and 2009's Esta Plena, both released on Marsalis Music. His ninth recording as a leader, Identities Are Changeable, is an ambitious project that finds Zenón with his longtime quartet (Luis Perdomo, piano; Hans Glawischnig, bass; ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Afro Bop Alliance: Angel Eyes

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Latin Grammy Award-winning group Afro Bop Alliance lend their infectious hard-driving and percussive Latin-tinged sound to Angel Eyes, the group's fifth album staking one more claim for yet another future Latin Grammy nod. Known for their percolating percussion as well as dipping into straight ahead jazz, this Washington D.C. based octet lets the rumba rumble, the cha-cha churn and the samba simmer on another exciting energizing album of note. Led by drummer/percussionist and Afro Bop Alliance founder Joe McCarthy, the band also consist of a three-piece horn section a bassist, pianist, a vocalist and Victor Provost on the steel pans. ...



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