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Oscar Feldman: Gol

James Nadal By

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Don't let the paucity of recordings from saxophonist Oscar Feldman fool you. It appears he has been woodshedding, assembling a new band of compatible musicians, and is now ready to step back into the spotlight. After his hiatus, quietly working on other projects, Feldman presents Gol, an eclectic blend of music covering the sounds of South America, Beck and The Beatles, all re-invented and revolving around his signature sound on alto and soprano saxophones.

Feldman hand-picked his band mates for this gig with precise intention of what he wanted to accomplish. Antonio Sanchez is an exacting drummer who has worked and recorded with him before, and they go back to Berklee school days. John Benitez is a wise choice for his versatility and aptitude in anchoring the bottom end, and pianist Leo Genovese is a fellow Argentine, so there is national kinship there, ditto for guest artist Guillermo Klein.

Feldman begins with the Duke Ellington composition "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Head," the alto swaying the song into a more contemporary direction. His knack for not adhering to the established arrangement is coupled with his trademark tonal quality and range of fluency. Genovese also displays a firm grasp of the material, delivering an accomplished solo on piano.

Klein contributed, and is featured vocalist on "La Cancion Que Falta," a melodic Latin ballad where Feldman switches over to soprano. Feldman's hometown in Argentina is heralded with his original "Viva Belgrano," commemorating a winning goal in a local soccer match, thus the title of the record. They slip back into bolero mode on "Murmullo," a traditional Cuban favorite from the 1930's, Feldman laying out the melody on soprano, a highlight song for Benitez who works out on bass.

The odd titled "N.N." stands for No Name, in honor of those who disappeared in Argentina's troubled political past. This is another Klein composition, based on the folkloric Argentine chacarera rhythms, displaying Sanchez diving into a complete round the set drumming exposition. Beck's "Nobody's Fault But My Own," might seem like an unusual selection, but is very much in line with the modern sounds that Feldman is in tune with. The song is totally reworked into a spatial trance, the extended alto nuances invoking experiences moving past the fringes of abstraction.

New York straight-ahead swing is represented in "Is That So?" penned by Duke Pearson, it serves as an open template for jamming, the band engaging in the opportunity. Everyone knows that The Beatles songbook is a gold mine for improvising on lighter themes, and "I Feel Fine" is given a bop edge, Feldman taking liberties with meter modulations, as they weave through blues, waltz, and everything in between.

While staying true to his Pan-American roots, Feldman continues to immerse himself in the challenges and options that jazz creativeness presents when applied to a myriad of genres and styles. As an astute disciple and friend of the revered Paquito D'Rivera, he has learned his lessons well, and aptly represents the cresting wave of contemporary saxophonists coming out of Latin America. Let's just hope he doesn't wait so long for another record.

Track Listing: I Let A Song Go Out Of My Head; La Cancion Que Falta; Viva Belgrano; Murmillo; N.N.; Nobody’s Fault But My Own; Is That So; I Feel Fine.

Personnel: Oscar Feldman: alto and soprano sax; Antonio Sanchez: drums; John Benitez: acoustic and electric bass; Leo Genovese: piano, keyboards; Guillermo Klein: vocals, keyboards (2).

Title: Gol | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Zoho Music


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