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Eva Cortés: Crossing Borders

Paul Rauch By

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Honduras born vocalist/composer Eva Cortés is, in some ways, a cultural anomaly. Her sound has roots in her Latin American heritage, but bears the aesthetic traits of her upbringing in Sevilla, Spain.

On Crossing Borders, Cortés solicits the assistance of master producer/trombonist /arranger Doug Beavers to produce a vibrant recording that reflects her rich heritage through the lens of her foray into American latin jazz culture in New York City. The influence of flamenco is deeply rooted in her musical accent, whether she is singing in jazz standard form, interpreting boleros by Mexican composer Alvaro Carillo, or performing her own compositions.

In addition to Beavers, Cortés brings in a plethora of top players including bassist Luques Curtis, pianist Pepe Rivero and percussionist Luisito Quintero. If that doesn't suffice, Christian McBride guests on the Bobby Capó composition, "Piel Canela," a vibrant, joyous trio interpretation that also features Beavers on trombone. The record is a logical step in the New York adventure of Cortés, a journey forward from her most recent release, In Bloom (Verve, 2013).

The compositional prowess of Cortés is highlighted in the opening salvo, "Corazon." It foretells the storyline for this session in a variety of ways. The tune is melodically and harmonically dynamic, underpinned by the perfect partnership between Quintero, and drummer Bobby Ameen. Steeped in the flamenco vocal style of Andalucía in terms of inflection, and lyrical cadence, Cortés utilizes an approach that is much more relaxed than great cantaoras such as Estrella Morente, or her namesake Montse Cortés. Pianist Rivero is brilliant as both accompanist and soloist, a delightful constant the length of the session.

Beavers' elegante trombone style, and intuitive arranging skills come to light on the Carillo composition "Sabor a Mi," a bolero that slides seamlessly into a tango-tinged chorus. Cortés offers a relaxed interpretation of the lyrics, and beautiful harmony to the solos of pianist Rivero and Beavers.

Carillo's "Se Te Olvida," which has been covered notably in recent times by Chilean master vocalist Claudia Acuña on her fabulous release, En Este Momento (Marsalis, 2009), is performed in a more up-tempo fashion than one might normally associate with the tune. Tastefully arranged, the piece supplies an ample canvas for saxophone soloist Roman Filiu, who adds a ferocious alto flute tag. As is evident throughout this album, Cortés allows the "cats to play," seeing her voice as part of the ensemble, despite the selections playing in the three to four minute range. The record is a true collective effort, and reflects a jubilant energy throughout.

The title track, with English lyrics, tells the story of five hundred African refugees who lost their lives in an incident off the southern coast of Italy in 2013. The track could just as well provide social commentary for the plight of refugees worldwide, including that of immigrants escaping the oppressive social conditions in Honduras, the homeland of Cortés.

The title "Crossing Borders" could as well describe the musical journey of Cortés, that has earned her the title of "new queen of Latin Jazz," in the Madrid-based periódico mundial, El País. Carrying the soul of ritmos hondureños, the broad-based influences of flamenco from the south of Spain, and the pulsating energy of the New York Latin Jazz scene, Cortés offers a satisfying glimpse into her vision of worldwide musical celebration.

Track Listing: Corazón; The Sky is Crying; Déja Vu; Quizás; Rabo de Nube; Se Te olvida; Noche de Luna; Sabor A Mi; Contigo en Montego; Crossing Borders; Piel Canela

Personnel: Eva Cortés: vocals; Roman Filiu: alto sax, alto flute; Jonathan Powell: trumpet; Doug Beavers: trombone; Marvin Sewell: guitar; Jon Cowherd: piano (3&7); Pepe Rivero: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; Christian McBride: bass, special guest (11); Bobby Ameen: drums; Luisito Quintero: percussion

Title: Crossing Borders | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Origin

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