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Kevin Clark: Zahara (2007)

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Kevin Clark: Zahara How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Kevin Clark, who plays piano, flugelhorn and trumpet, is a man of varied musical persuasion. Besides playing solo piano, he has a trio, a Dixieland band (The Dixie Dudes), and a Latin band (Los Gringos). The last is acknowledged as the leading Latin Band in New Zealand, Clark's native land.

Clark has an abiding passion for Latin American music. He has traveled to Cuba, where he studied and played the music. Los Gringos became an extension of that attachment.

Clark expands the musical vision on this CD. Besides Latin American music, he incorporates Spanish and Moorish music. The mix is heady, and the configurations he uses open the emotional valve to the music.

Clark gets a blend of swing, flamenco, and a 6/8 beat to work marvelously on "Güiro Guitano. The first thrust comes from the swinging alto saxophone of Andre Paris. Having captured attention, the mood shifts into gypsy music that forms the core. Clark transposes that feel on the piano in a soft shaded power. Add the constant movement of the pulse in the horns and the rhythm section, and this turns out to be a hot little tune.

Mustapha's Moustache has an ethereal beauty. The melody fans out gently before it gets a deeper hue. The rhythm has been adapted from the Middle Eastern malfouf and Colin Hemmingsen (soprano saxophone) dips into it with articulate expressionism. But its overall impact comes in the way the tapestry is unveiled, a gorgeous texture of melody and improvisation.

Clark is a well of ideas on "Cubanalistic. He opens up a cohesive flow of ideas that drink deeply from the melody. Michael Taylor sets a blistering path on the trumpet, the heat then tempered by percussion before it melts and ebbs. It's another example of the diversity Clark has. All of this leads to one highly satisfying album.

Track Listing: Giro Guitano; Flambalucin; Zahara; Cubanalistic; Lullaby of the Butterflies; Gringo the Rush Oh!; River Weep For Me; Mustaphas Moustache; Pienselo (Think about It); Here Comes Another Crazy Song; Gua-Ricardo; Calypsodic Trance; Para A Minha Mulher; River Weep For Me (reprise).

Personnel: Kevin Clark: piano, flugelhorn, trumpet; Rowan Clark: bass; Reuben Bradley: drums; Richard Wise: cajn, percussion; Michael Taylor: trumpet; Andre Paris: alto saxophone; David Bremner: trombone; Fran Barton: vocals; Francine Sweet, Jessica Garland, Jill Tanner-Lloyd: palmas. Special guest: Colin Hemmingsen: soprano and tenor saxophones.

Record Label: KCM International


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