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Some music defies categorization. In the case of Dos Amantes, by Kat Parra & The Seraphic Experience, it's the blending of several styles that make genre assignment a challenge; to place it in one area would be to omit others.
Parra played piano as a child and later studied flute. After marrying at 18, becoming a mother and later a divorcee, she continued her music studies, this time focusing on the voice. Under the tutelage of Patti Cathcart, Parra evolved into a multi-faceted vocalist. Her core band consists of musical director/keyboardist Murray Low, flautist Masaru Koga, violinist Stephanie Antoine, bassist Peter Barshay, percussionist Katja Cooper and drummer Paul van Wageningen. Several guest musicians and a choir also contribute.
"Los Bilbilicos," in just a few notes, captures the essence of the entire work, an eclectic blend of multiple styles of music, with Latin jazz and Middle Eastern flavors perhaps the most dominant. Koga and Low carry the instrumental element, while Parra's voice shows her versatility, as she scats during the introduction, and later singing. During a middle break, Antoine and Koga perform a duet and Wageningen contributes a brief solo, setting Koga up.
"En La Mar" is a charming flamenco piece. All the core musicians put their individual stamps on this one, while maintaining the group dynamic, with guest guitarist Jason McGuire also contributing.
The eight-voice Temple Sinai Choir of Oakland, California joins for "Fiestaremo," an elegant charmer. The group adds an ethereal element behind Parra's lead, with Barshay soloing after a Koga-Antoine duet. Parra enters subtly, offering a wordless chant before resuming the song's melody.
All the songs of Dos Amantes are traditional pieces except "Hanukia," written by Judy Frankel with lyrics by Lina Kohen Albukrek. Arrangements are by Low, Wayne Wallace and David Pinto. Parra wrote Spanish lyrics for three of the songs.
Track Listing: Los Bilbilicos; En La Mar; Fiestaremos; Dos Amantes; A La Nana; Tres Harmanicas; Avrix Mi Galinica; La Vida do por el Raki; Una Matika de Ruda; Hanukia.
Personnel: Kat Parra: lead vocals, background vocals (1, 7, 10); Murray Low: piano (1, 8, 10), keyboards (3-5, 7, 9); Masaru Koga: flute; Stephanie Antoine: violin; Peter Barshay: acoustic bass; Katja Cooper: percussion (2-7, 9); Paul van Wageningen: drums; Lila Sklar: violin (4, 10); Jason McGuire: guitar (2, 6); Michaelle Goerlitz: percussion (1, 4, 8, 10); Ravi Gutala: tables (9); Edgardo Cambon: coros (1, 7, 8), guiro (4); David Chaidez: coros (1, 7, 8); Lichi Fuentes: coros (1, 7, 8); Temple Sinai Choir of Oakland, California: vocals (3).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.