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Diego Urcola Quartet: Appreciation

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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Trumpeter Diego Urcola's is a voice that has remained somewhat hidden—certainly tucked away—for two decades in Paquito D'Rivera's quintet. And then there is the subdued role he has played in Guillermo Klein's fabulous larger ensemble, Los Guachos. However, the graceful candor of his voice is irrepressible, and it was only a matter of time before he would be heard for what he really is and plays. Urcola is distinct and a singular artist in the manner of his more famous countryman, Gato Barbieri, playing with sensuous swagger and digging deep into his own soul for even the slightest note. This mortal risk-taking is something for which Barbieri is well-known, and with his own immaculate sense of grace, absolutely bereft of inhibition Urcola begs favorable comparisons with the much older tenor saxophonist.

The trumpet resides in a cluttered world and not even its softer relative, the flugelhorn, can serve to set horn men who favor this burnished brass instrument apart from the pack that always seems to advance like the frontline of an ancient army. Still, someone like Charles Mingus was able to pick Thad Jones, and more significantly, the mysterious, Clarence Shaw from out of the clutter. Jones, he called "Bartok with valves," and Shaw's language and phrasing left him breathless. Then there is Wallace Roney, and Arturo Sandoval. To these, the name of Diego Urcola must be added; to understand why, it pays to peruse Urcola's Appreciation.

Here is an example of a gargantuan challenge, one where the artist has chosen to pay homage to a host of peers and mentors, wholly different characters that have pursued widely divergent paths. And yet, Urcola brings it all together, to fruition with a mighty effort that defines each musician—from Freddie Hubbard, Hermeto Pascoal and Guillermo Klein to John Coltrane and Astor Piazzolla. In doing so, Urcola traverses the soundscape of Lydian modes, bebop, the Brazilian partita alto, and Klein's wildly inventive meters, using what the Guachos did—7+7+7+3. Urcola's tribute to Woody Shaw and Dizzy Gillespie, "Woody 'n Diz," offers a masterful use of the flatted fifth, while "El Brujo" sings of the fire and irrepressible creativity of Pascoal in that rarely used Brazilian rhythm. Urcola's tribute to his long-term employer, D'Rivera, is an astounding milonga song-style, in the manner of Astor Piazzolla.

Urcola is blessed to have the artistry of pianist, Luis Perdomo, a master of that elusive Latin rhythm that actually resides hidden in the melody and is only brought forth by superlative tumbao, something few pianists possess. Drummer Eric McPherson is truly a revelation, in the deft manner in which he negotiates the maddeningly complex rhythms, especially that invented by Guillermo Klein in a 7+7+7+3 part. He is no doubt aided on "The Natural" by Yosvany Terry on chekere, but then there is the partita alto and all the other tantalizing modes that follow.

Track Listing: The Natural (to Freddie Hubbard); El Brujo (to Hermeto Pascoal); Milonga para Paquito (to Paquito D'Rivera); Super Mario Forever (to Mario Rivera); Guachos (to Guillermo Klein & Los Guachos); Deep (to Astor Piazzolla & Miles Davis); Senhor Wayne; Woody 'n Diz (to Woody Shaw & Dizzy Gillespie); Camilla (to John Coltrane).

Personnel: Diego Urcola: trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone, vocals; Luis Perdomo: piano, Fender Rhodes; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Eric McPherson: drums; Yosvany Terry: chekere (1, 8).

Title: Appreciation | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: CAM Jazz


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