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Alex Bellgarde Quartet: Caminando

Dan McClenaghan By

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The freedom of jazz and the joy of Cuban rhythms are what bandleader Alex Bellegarde says he loves, and Caminando combines spontaneity and structure for an affair of the heart. The Montreal-based bassist leads a vibrant Latin-leaning quartet featuring Cuban- born pianist Yoel Diaz; alto sax man Erik Hove; drummer Yvon Piouffe; and a special guest, percussionist Orlando Lavielle.

The set opens with the title tune, featuring a tranquil Cuban percussion groove behind a sweet and simple meloodic line from Hove. "Got Lip," a burning up-tempo romp, sounds like a cousin of Coltrane's "Giant Steps"; "Nature" opens on some dark Afro-Cuban percussion that leads into a piano sparkle which introduces a brooding saxophone interlude. "Timba Time" has pianist Diaz splashing right colors across the keyboard behind Hove's searching alto, before the tune shifts into a spicy Latin rhythm.

There's a lot of land (and some sea) between Monteal and Havana. But Alex Bellegarde and his musical compatriots transcend geography on a sonic visit to the land between with "A Blues or Not," a tart, boppish Blue Note-esque blower, before closing with "En Moin de Deux," an insistent free jazz affair that gives the leader a chance to show off his chops.

Track Listing: Caminando; Got Lip, Native; Timba Tune; Brown's Groove; A Blues or Not!; Driving on a Rainy Night!: La Vaca; Desert; En Moins de Deux.

Personnel: Alex Bellegarde: bass; Yoel Diaz: piano; Erik Hove: alto saxophone; Yvon Plouffe: drums; Orlando Lavielle: congas

Title: Caminando | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Justin Time Records

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