Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

6

Alejandro Vargas: AMa AZa LaNdO

Geno Thackara By

Sign in to view read count
Music seems to be a matter of play as much as craft for Alejandro Vargas Rodriguez. The Cuban (now Spain-based) pianist shows plenty of chops throughout this whole recording, but they're often equalled or surpassed by the spirit of almost childlike joy that runs through it, as evidenced by the freeform playfulness of the track titles. (The title AMa AZa LaNdO, for example, is itself a playful anagram of "A Mano Alzada"—meaning something that's done freehand.) The piano work is exuberant in blurring lines between Latin jazz and experimentalism, also making use of bells and other noise in whatever sound-shaping way comes to mind. It's a blend that somehow comes out equal parts virtuosic and whimsical.

The prime free-jazz streak means it's not an album for everyone, but his in-the-moment excitement generally makes for sprightly melodies more than ponderous self-indulgence. Any meandering and vamping is spiced up with either a steady pulse or jittery restlessness; in either case it's usually lively and energetic enough to carry things along. Whenever his main keyboard line tends toward drifting, Vargas is likely to overdub an extra part or two to add a different flavor—airy fluttering flute, occasional percussive knocks or perhaps offhandedly vocalizing low enough that you'd have to listen closely to hear it.

It's hard to tell how much of this music is composed or improvised. From jaunty melodies to quiet meditations or crashing cascades, the piano motifs are abstract enough that they could be either one—which probably tells us it doesn't matter anyway and the results are what's important. Often that means a pretty skewed approach to chording, but then it's interspersed with spots like the pretty harmonic "NOodA" or the very Monk-esque "OdO" that don't require any particular taste for the avant-garde. In both cases it comes from a willingness to wander over the canvas without worrying about any rules, and the results are always straight from the hands and heart.

Track Listing: MaLaZa; JOcOSIDAdes; CaNtOs ALegóricOs; áMe; COincidenCias; AleGRíaS; AMefriKa; NOdaa; BLUe; MANsoro; AGUaceROs; OdO.

Personnel: Alejandro Vargas: piano, flute, bells, voice.

Title: AMa AZa LaNdO | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

AMefriKa

AMefriKa

Alejandro Vargas Rodriguez
AMa AZa LaNdO

Album Reviews
Read more articles
AMa AZa LaNdO

AMa AZa LaNdO

Self Produced
2016

buy
AMa Aza LANdo

AMa Aza LANdo

Unknown label
2014

buy
Miniaturas de Eugenio Granell: música Revelada

Miniaturas de Eugenio...

Central Folque
2013

buy
Oceanía

Oceanía

Unknown label
2010

buy
Opersuite

Opersuite

Unknown label
2010

buy
Trapiche

Trapiche

Colibri
2008

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Live at the Black Musicians' Conference, 1981 Album Reviews
Live at the Black Musicians' Conference, 1981
By John Sharpe
January 20, 2019
Read More Than One Thing Album Reviews
More Than One Thing
By Gareth Thompson
January 20, 2019
Read Wandering Monster Album Reviews
Wandering Monster
By Roger Farbey
January 20, 2019
Read Pattern Recognition Album Reviews
Pattern Recognition
By Chris M. Slawecki
January 20, 2019
Read Come And Stay With Me: The UK 45's 1964-1969 Album Reviews
Come And Stay With Me: The UK 45's 1964-1969
By Doug Collette
January 19, 2019
Read Beggars Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition Album Reviews
Beggars Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition
By Doug Collette
January 19, 2019
Read Circuits Album Reviews
Circuits
By Sammy Stein
January 19, 2019