317

Magos Herrera: Distancia

Holly Holmes By

Sign in to view read count
Mexican jazz vocalist Magos Herrera may not be a household name among jazz audiences, but she certainly deserves to be. With the release of her seventh album as a leader, Distancia (Sunnyside, 2009) shows off not only her rich contralto voice but also an artist with expressive depth.

Distancia is an extraordinarily diverse album. Herrera sings in three languages—English, Portuguese and Spanish—and, in doing so, treads broken ground of Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Milton Nascimento, and Cuban composer César Portillo de la Luz. Herrera's own compositions, including "Reencuentro," "Tu Ojos" and "New Song," are also featured, and are full of life, passion and unforgettable melodies.

Despite the album's eclectic repertoire and various stylistic approaches, it is held firmly together by a stellar band, as drummer Alex Kautz navigates with ease between an Afro-Cuban triplet feel and a loping swing on "Alegría." On Herrera's "Staying Closer," Kautz serves as the singer's competent co-arranger. Underneath her glass-like vocals, Kautz cooks up a driving, syncopated fusion groove, kept at a rolling boil. The energy is contagious, propelling guitarist Lionel Loueke through an agile solo feature. Pianist Aaron Goldberg proves to be a deft accompanist on the rubato introduction to de la Luz's classic "Tú, Mi Delirio."

Goldberg returns later for a superb solo to rival the best linear conceptions of Herbie Hancock. The quartet plays with a truly lovely sense of dynamic contour, and Herrera takes full expressive advantage with impassioned whispers and a grand dramatic climax. The song makes a quietly joyful close, giving Loueke and Herrera space for creative interplay.

The gems of the album come with Herrera's thoughtful reinterpretation of two classic Brazilian songs, both sung in her native Spanish. Jobim's "Inutil Paisaje" is rendered here as a contemplative ballad, but one propelled by modern reharmonization. Herrera's final reading in English proves that beauty can be found inside immense solitude. Herrera's arrangement of Nascimento's "Veracruz" transforms the Brazilian composer's samba into a loping lament in 5/4 time. Loueke delivers another intricate solo, but leaves ample room for interaction with bassist Ricky Rodriguez.

For Distancia, Herrera creates a repertoire of well-crafted arrangements, executed with energy and elegance by her quartet, but her use of the human voice boosted the ensemble to greater heights. "Reencuentros" opens the album and features Herrera imitating the bass line, then breaking into a playful improvisation over the 7/8 vamp. Sisters Ingrid and Jennifer Beaujean join in, as if to simulate a classic brass section throughout the song. Later, the three singers combine forces to expand the final chorus of "Tus Ojos" and add a funky postlude to "Veracruz."

As a Latin American female jazz singer, Herrera is often compared to fellow New Yorkers Luciana Souza (of Brazil) and John Ellis (of Chile). With the release of Distancia, there is no mistaking that Herrera has sculpted a distinctive and charming musical identity.

Track Listing: Reencuentro; Tus Ojos; New Song; Retrato em Branco e Preto; Inutil Paisaje; Veracruz; Staying Closer; Tu, mi Delirio; Alegria; Dindi.

Personnel: Magos Herrera: vocals; Alex Kautz: arranger, drums; Lionel Loueke: guitar, vocals; Aaron Goldberg: piano, Ricky Rodriguez: bass; Ingrid and Jennifer Beaujean: background vocals.

Title: Distancia | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "The Look Of Love: Songs Of The Sixties" CD/LP/Track Review The Look Of Love: Songs Of The Sixties
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "Twin" CD/LP/Track Review Twin
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "The Organ Grinder" CD/LP/Track Review The Organ Grinder
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Jondo" CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.