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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 with Figueras letting the melody blossom and bloom. Nick Gianni's bass provides a thick bottom on which Karl Berger frolics on the vibraphone as he also explores the melody and adds an impressive ambit. The tune is an absolute winner with its Latin rhythm, exquisite arrangement and Figueras showing her masterful control through flowing ideas, fertile phrases and interjections of free jazz.
A steady stream of African rhythms greets "Balafon Madness: Africa Meets China" in gently shifting shapes and pulses. The melody is drawn out on the saxophone in a deep swell that has a Chinese air. Tony Larokko is soon in the company of Figueras whose intensity fires up the space in contrast to the softer, malleable tones of Larokko's soprano sax. With the band locking in, this is another showpiece of how The Black Butterflies transcend genre and form to electrify the atmosphere.
That Figueras can write a mesmerizing melody is put beyond any doubt on "The 3 Monkeys," a ballad that is illustrated by a lingering beauty that emotes every note. The mellow tone of the soprano raises the quotient as it plays over the piano, drums and percussion. The last two are used judiciously to abet this lyrical manifestation even as it rides into the meatier entwining of two horns and a slight edginess that takes it to another plateau.
Rainbows for Ramon is a splendid record from The Black Butterflies.
Track Listing: Intro To The 3 Monkeys; The 3 Monkeys; Together; Summertime; Rainbows For Ramon; Wind Chimes; Lumkili; Balafon Madness: Africa Meets China.
Personnel: Mercedes Figueras: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Tony Larokko: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, percussion; Nick Gianni: bass; Levi Barcourt: piano; Bopa "King" Carre: bongos; Fred Berryhill: djembe, percussion; Kenny Wollesen: drums; Karl Berger: vibraphone, melodica.
Year Released: 2012
| Record Label: Self Produced
| Style: Modern Jazz
I love jazz because my father shard it with me. I was first exposed to jazz as a kid with Eddie Condon records. I met Warren Covington when I was in College and he was leading the Tommy Dorsey Band. I sat in, and very soon after that began singing with a Big Band in Cleveland
I love jazz because my father shard it with me. I was first exposed to jazz as a kid with Eddie Condon records. I met Warren Covington when I was in College and he was leading the Tommy Dorsey Band. I sat in, and very soon after that began singing with a Big Band in Cleveland. The best show I ever attended was Earl Hines when I was in middle school. My Dad took me. The first jazz record I bought was a Dinah Washington LP. My advice to new listeners is to find artists and composers that are not mainstream. Go outside the box. Please don't just purchase what they are pushing on iTunes.